RAFAEL BENITEZ admitted his Newcastle United players ‘ran out of steam’ as they crashed to a 3-2 defeat at Manchester United.

The Magpies were leading by two goals as the clock ticked past the 70-minute mark at Old Trafford, with Kenedy and Yoshinori Muto both having scored before the break.

However, after Juan Mata curled home a free-kick, Newcastle found themselves on the back foot as Manchester United staged a grandstand finish to help save their embattled manager, Jose Mourinho.

Anthony Martial equalised with a slick finish, and Alexis Sanchez broke Newcastle hearts as he headed home Paul Pogba’s cross in the 90th minute.

Benitez said: “As a team, we did so well. It is a pity because, for 70 minutes, the organisation and determination of the team was so good. It’s just a pity that, in the end, we lost against a very good team.

“We conceded the first goal, and that changed the game. They continued pushing and pushing, and it was difficult to defend. We still had chances on the counter-attack.

“We had chances in the first half to score a third goal, and chances in the second half too. We could have done a little bit better, we didn’t score. They were pushing, and they scored.

“Obviously, they changed things, and they were really playing with four strikers at the same time. Their substitutions were top-class players, and it was difficult to stop, especially when you have players who are getting tired. They had fresh legs and quality, and they were very strong at the end.”

The defeat leaves Newcastle in 19th position in the table, and means they have now claimed just two points from their opening eight games.

They have played five members of the current top six, but while the fixture list gets easier after the international break, with their next four games pitting them against Brighton, Southampton, Watford and Bournemouth, they cannot afford many more slip-ups if they are not to become detached in the bottom three.

Benitez said: “Everybody was disappointed in the dressing room, but I told them we cannot complain about we did. We cannot be upset because we did so well for a while, and we deserved more.

“We have played against five of the top six already. Last year, we were in the bottom five teams in the table in December, and still we finished tenth. This year, hopefully it will be the same.”