Beaten Benitez fumes in two-minute China press conference

(FILES) This file photo taken on July 7, 2019 shows Dalian Yifang’s new head coach Rafael Benitez (L) gesturing during the Chinese Super League (CSL) football match between Dalian Yifang and Henan Jianye in Dalian in northeast China’s Liaoning province. – Rafa Benitez said three times “I didn’t like the game” and apologised on his way out of a curtailed press conference following a 2-1 defeat for his Dalian Pro side on August 4. Salomon Rondon, who was with the Spanish coach at Newcastle United before both moved to the Chinese Super League last year, equalised in the 79th minute against Jiangsu Suning. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT


Rafa Benitez said three times “I didn’t like the game” and apologised on his way out of a curtailed press conference following a 2-1 defeat for his Dalian Pro side on Tuesday.

Salomon Rondon, who was with the Spanish coach at Newcastle United before both moved to the Chinese Super League last year, equalised in the 79th minute against Jiangsu Suning.

But a young Dalian team conceded a penalty late on and Jiangsu’s Italy striker Eder converted to condemn the 60-year-old Benitez to another disappointing result.

Under Benitez, a 2005 Champions League winner with Liverpool, Dalian have taken just one point from their first three matches of the coronavirus-delayed CSL season.

The game was played behind closed doors because of COVID-19 but footage posted online showed the former Real Madrid boss spend at least 30 seconds towards the end facing away from the pitch, deep in thought.

Benitez, who has been consistently linked with a return to the Premier League since moving to China in July last year, was unable to hide his frustration afterwards.

“I didn’t like the game and that’s it,” he told a post-match press conference that lasted barely two minutes even with translation.

“I didn’t like the game, that’s the reason why,” Benitez added, after being asked why he turned away from the pitch towards the end.

“I would say that I didn’t like the game too much,” he added to a third question.

When the press conference was brought to a premature end, the usually affable Benitez said, “Thank you, sorry,” and walked out.

Dalian have filed a complaint to the Chinese Football Association over the referee’s handling of the match, local media said.

Benitez arrived in China to fanfare but he has found it difficult to make an impact at Dalian, winning only seven of his 20 matches.

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