RAFAEL BENITEZ was relieved his decision to send out a strong Newcastle United team in the FA Cup was justified by progress into the fourth round.

The Magpies scored three goals in nine first half minutes – courtesy of a double from Ayoze Perez and one from Jonjo Shelvey - to ensure they avoided a slip up against League Two leaders Luton Town.

Luton pulled one back soon after half-time when striker Danny Hylton found the net, but Newcastle’s first team line-up had enough to see the game through.

Benitez said: “I am pleased with everything. The goals we scored, the way we managed the game.

"Maybe because of that and three goals up we relaxed second half and gave them belief they could score and it became more difficult.

"But we go through and the fans enjoyed an emotional game. It is good to win games, another after Stoke.”

Benitez, who admitted beforehand that the priority is to stay in the Premier League, would still love to enjoy a run in the FA Cup – but the importance of league games will be taken into consideration.

The Newcastle boss, who did include young keeper Freddie Woodman in goal, said: “The FA Cup, we won it with Liverpool. We want to go as far as we can. I don’t want to lie.

"It was important to go through and play a strong team. Hopefully the next one too. We will see the next one. I wanted to be sure we did not have any surprise.

“It was important to send a message we wanted to do well. But it depends on injuries and where we are in the league.

“Perez is important for the team and for a striker to score goals. The team created chances Ayoze will be happier than others.

“I said we would play a strong team to stop a surprise. I am pleased to see that crowd of 47,000. For us it means we can go through. Hopefully some more.”