Miguel Almiron’s superb goal netted Newcastle their sixth consecutive home win in the Premier League, as they beat Crystal Palace 1-0.
The Magpies winger made a mad dash down the right before folding in a stunning effort onto the post, following a fine pass from famous St James’ Park character Bruno Guimaraes, a perfect fit for Eddie Howe’s team.
Palace coach Patrick Vieira was frustrated for most of the match as his side took a well deserved defeat after making so little in the Northeast.
Wilfried Zaha missed his best chance in the second half when he shot wide from inside the box, but that was all that upset Newcastle – who racked up six consecutive league victories at home for the first time since 2004 and hit the magic number 40. Mark the point needed to ensure survival.
Before the match, Howe called the Newcastle manager for a quick start at St James’ Park to reach 40 points and that’s what his team achieved.
Palace, still reeling from their FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea at the weekend, failed to tackle the quick-witted Magpies as Emile Kraft and Alain Saint-Maximin enjoyed plenty of freedom behind the scenes from the start.
In midfield, Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães, after beating Leicester at the weekend, combined early to free Almiron in the penalty area, but a powerful pass from Marc Guihy prevented him from the first goal.
Then Newcastle striker Chris Wood seized one of the clearest chances of the evening when he tapped Matt Targett’s long ball to take on Vicente Guaita one-on-one. The New Zealander fired an unconvincing shot wide and hoisted the offside flag – but replays showed VAR would have given her wide had he gone in.
But it wasn’t long before the first race of Newcastle gave them a lead. Guimarães grabbed Krafeth’s loose ball from the layup to shoot a superb long ball over Almiron’s foot. The Paraguayan pushed his leg aside to venture into the penalty area, finding the top corner – across the post – an impossible angle.
Vieira showed his fury at Palace’s side by sacking Jordan Ayew’s Michael Ulis with five minutes to go – injury free for the England Under-21 player – as his side struggled to create chances. The only attempt on goal in the first half saw Odson Edward pass the ball into the arms of Martin Dubravka after some slackening in defense from Joelinton.
The palace did not improve after the break, so other changes came from Vieira. Jean-Philippe Mateta and James MacArthur, who both started at Wembley on Sunday, were offset by Cheikh Kouyate and the quiet Conor Gallagher, and the guests started pushing hard.
And when Zaha tapped Edward’s pass into the penalty area, many believed Palace had found the equalizer. But the international player from Côte d’Ivoire dragged his efforts beyond Dubravka’s position and the opportunity fell.
- Newcastle: Dubravka 6; Krafth 8, Schar 6, Burn 7, Targett 7; Guimaraes 7, Shelvey 6, Joelinton 6; Almiron 8, Boa 6, Saint-Maximin 7
- Subs: Murphy 6, Willock 6, Longstaff N/A
- Crystal Palace: Guaita 6; Klein 5, Andersen 6, Jhie 6, Mitchell 5; Coyote 5, Gallagher 4, Slump 5; Olise 4, Edouard 5, Zaha 6
- Submarines: Ayew 5, Mateta 6, McArthur 6
Palace’s only other chance came when Mateta headed for McArthur’s cross, but Newcastle were relatively calm on the night that saw them secure Premier League football for next season.
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Hao: Long way to go after 40 degrees
Wednesday night marked exactly five months since Newcastle boss Howe took over at St James’ Park – but after several weeks of worry the 44-year-old can relax a bit more and enjoy the rest in the countryside.
Howe failed to win his first three games for the club – but his side progressed to a team that – according to the Magpies coach – produced his best performance of the season in the first half against Palace.
“We were very good in the first half,” he said. “Probably – with the ball and in terms of our strength – one of our best performances. In the second half it was tough, Crystal Palace came back into the game but we defended very well.
“It feels like it’s been a long time and you can quickly forget where we’ve been and where we’ve come from this season. We know we have a long way to go to improve, but we’re happy with the players’ response to our work.
“It’s a great night for the football club. You can quickly forget where we were and how hard we worked to get to this position now.”
As for Vieira Palace, the Eagles coach admitted Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea is still on his players’ minds – which explains their slow start to the match.
“We did not come to the match in the best way,” said the Frenchman. “We didn’t play forward enough and our central defender had a lot of possession.
“The second half was better but we didn’t create enough chances. We had the ball, but we didn’t put the ball in the penalty area and we made the right decision.
“Losing the FA Cup semi-final was a lot for us, we saw it the way we got into the game. But we have to go back to basics and win football matches.”
Newcastle nod to the good old days
Sam Blitz analysis for Sky Sports:
Newcastle have not won six straight Premier League wins since the era of Sir Bobby Robson – the kind of football the club’s new Saudi owners have been trying to embrace after years of stagnation.
Little could have been discovered tonight – as both sides secured the Premier League survival ahead of the game – but now the Magpies have a first half in sight.
If Newcastle finish in the top ten of the Premier League at the end of the season, it would be a very positive opening six months at St James’ Park for the new owner. This justifies the patience process for hiring Eddie Howe, as well as the club’s early investment in the likes of Bruno Guimarães – who quickly settled alongside Jongo Shelvey and Joelinton in midfield.
Meanwhile, a stellar home performance will help unite the team, owners and fans as they take the first steps together on this new journey. The off-ground form is less impressive with three defeats in a row, and with Liverpool and Arsenal so far visiting St James’ Park, an improvement on the road would be next on Howe’s checklist.
As for Crystal Palace, Patrick Vieira demanded before the match that his players not simply fade away in May after their FA Cup semi-final defeat – so he would not be happy with this offer at all.
The likes of Conor Gallagher and Michael Ulis didn’t look at the level of challenge tonight – which may have explained their early withdrawals on either side of the first half. It would be a lesson learned for Vieira’s young team.
Newcastle are back in action on Saturday when they visit Norwich in the Premier League. Departure 3 pm. Crystal Palace will next play Leeds live on Monday Football. It starts at 8 pm.
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