Let’s talk about one of the more bizarre moments of Newcastle’s 6-0 demolition of Preston North End this past Tuesday: The childish like argument over who should take the penalty in the 53rd minute between the in-form winger Matt Ritchie and fan-favorite striker Alexsandar Mitrovic. If you missed that moment, be sure to check out the video below.
After being up 2-0 thanks to a brilliant set piece that led to a Mitrovic header and an excellent strike from Mo Diame, Newcastle were still hungry for more goals despite being up a man. After a long ball by Jonjo Shelvey to Mitrovic, the Serbian then laid it off for Ritchie just outside of the box. The Winger danced around in the box before being taken out by Preston defender Bailey Wright. It was an obvious penalty right in front of the referee, who quickly pulled out a yellow for the Preston defender and awarded Ritchie the penalty he deserved. As Ritchie was drying off the ball, Mitrovic rans up to Ritchie begging to take the penalty. Mitrovic hasn’t gotten many opportunities to ply under Rafa, so he simply wanted another chance to score. Ritchie continually says no as he pushes Mitrovic off of him while hiding the ball underneath his shirt and shielding the ball like it is his baby. Mitrovic eventually gives up on trying to convince Ritchie to let him take the penalty, and Ritchie steps and takes a gorgeous penalty that gave the keeper no chance. It was a funny moment of the match that was the hot topic during the post-game press conferences.
When asked about the penalty fiasco Ritchie replied: “I’m the penalty taker! Mitro is a striker, everyone wants to score as many goals as possible.
“I’ve been on penalties since Dwight missed one early doors.
“I wasn’t going to give it up. Mitro is a great lad.”
When Mitrovic was asked about the penalty he explained himself to reports stating: “Matt was down to take it first. I asked him if I could try to score. It was nothing. It was Matt’s.
“But I just fancied my chance. He scored a good penalty. As long as we are scoring goals it doesn’t matter who scores.
“I wanted the penalty because I want to score as many as I can. This is my job and I didn’t play at the beginning for a long time.
“But he took the penalty really well, and I am happy for him. He chooses to take it and it was good.”
Even Rafa was asked about the incident and he gave very Rafa-like answers. When asked if Ritchie has been told to take the penalty, Benitez said: “Yes!”
And when asked if he’d been right to wave away Mitrovic, he said “Yes” again.
In the end, Mitrovic earned another goal and received a ton of praise for his excellent performance on the pitch that evening. It was all smiles in the locker room as Newcastle continued their string of great performances and look to continue their run of dominance as they face Preston again this weekend.