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Season 2019-20
Crystal Palace (h) Premier League


Saturday 21st December 2019, 3.00pm

 St. James' Park

Conditions: Persistent
Admission: Cheapest tickets were £35



Crystal Palace

1 - 0




Half time: Magpies 0 Eagles 0

83 mins A crossfield pass from Jonjo Shelvey out towards the United right allowed substitute Sean Longstaff to approach the Eagles box. His mis-hit ball was whacked out of play by Luka Milivojevic for a throw-in down by the corner flag Fabian Schar took quickly in the direction of Javier Manquillo.

His cushioned pass back to Schar allowed him to send over a swirling centre that dropped towards the back post, Andy Carroll arriving and get a glancing header on the ball that directed it into the path of Miguel Almiron. He volleyed home with his left foot from eight yards out and set off to celebrate in the South Western Corner, discarding his shirt and tossing it into the air as he ran.

Embracing a ballboy before the rest of his team mates followed in, Almiron eventually began the journey back to his own half amid great applause - Sean Longstaff having had the presence of mind to retrieve his shirt and turn it round the right way. Almiron was inevitably booked by an apologetic looking referee. 1-0

Full time: Magpies 1 Eagles 0

We Said



Steve Bruce said:

"Itís only half way. 

"You canít get carried away in the Premier League. Weíve got some really hard games coming up - thatís the Premier League - but weíve given ourselves a good platform going into Christmas.

"We changed our formation for the third time this year and thought weíd put two at the top and see if we could cause them a few problems. To get a clean sheet, you need your goalkeeper to do well - heís made two or three really good saves."

On Miguel Almiron:

"I nearly did a Jose Mourinho, running down the line! Delighted for him, and all the hard work he's put in.

"I think the crowd showed their appreciation for him. I think relief is the wrong word - we're all just delighted for him.

"Since he came to the club in January he lit the place up with his pace, trickery and skills. Day in, day out, he works and works, but unfortunately he's not been able to manage a goal. Today he's got the winner and we're all delighted for him.

"It took a long time, he's been unfortunate on so many occasions. Today when it fell to him, it was a difficult chance, coming from behind him, and he's managed to smash it in.

"He's a great pro, a great lad, and he works really hard. When you've got a gem like that they deserve all the success I'm sure will find him.

"My goalkeeper made a few saves but I don't think anyone can deny that Almiron deserved the winner. 

"He's a great pro, he works really hard, and when they work hard like that they deserve all the success they find."

On Paul Dummett:

"Heís got a groin injury. Weíll see how he is. For Dummy to play ... we were struggling on that left side with 
(Jetro) Willems out. It was difficult for him, but you know how it is for him Ė he sticks at it, and never, ever lets anybody down."

They Said

Roy Hodgson:

"I was rather hoping we would win it. 

"Our second-half performance followed on from the first-half, I thought we had a lot of the ball and created a lot of chances but youíve got to take your chances and we didnít.

"As a result of course, as the game goes on, thereís always that risk that a cross will come in, Andy (Carroll) will out jump whoever is marking him and the ball will fall very kindly to another one of their players.

"Of course, during the course of the game, we dealt with that threat that Newcastle have well. 

"We didnít allow that many crosses into the box. We didnít allow Andy to get his head on many balls in there, we stopped crosses. We didnít allow Jonjo Shelvey to get on the ball which is of course another big weapon.

"And as a result, we were able to use the space in midfield to get the ball down and I thought that created some good chances for us. We didnít take them, they took theirs and we lose the game.

"Thatís football. We have to accept it. But Iím quite proud of the team especially considering the changes weíve had to make recently due to our injury situation."


Miguel Almiron scored his first goal for the club, making him the 148th Newcastle player to have done so in the Premier League, from 236 who have played in that competition for us.

It took him until the 27th game of his Magpies career and finally arrived after 2,191 minutes.

Miggy is the second Paraguayan to do so, following in the boot steps of Diego Gavilan. He found the net at home to Coventry City in April 2000 - his fifth appearance for the Magpies.

United won for the first time this season when Alain Saint-Maximin wasn't in the side, that feat coming at the sixth time of asking in the Premier League, seven if one includes the League Cup.

Eagles @ Magpies - all time:

 Won 1-0 Almiron
2018/19 Lost 0-1
2017/18 Won 1-0 Merino
2015/16 Won 1-0 Townsend
2014/15 Drew 3-3 Janmaat, Aarons, Williamson
2013/14 Won 1-0 Cisse
2009/10 Won 2-0 OG(Derry), Ranger
2004/05 Drew 0-0
2001/02 Won 2-0 Shearer, Acuna (FAC)
1998/99 Won 2-1 Speed, Shearer (FAC)
1997/98 Lost 1-2 Shearer
1994/95 Won 3-2 Fox, Lee, Gillespie
1987/88 Won 1-0 Gascoigne (FAC)
1983/84 Won 3-1 Waddle, Keegan, Ryan
1982/83 Won 1-0 Waddle
1981/82 Drew 0-0
1978/79 Won 1-0 Shoulder
1972/73 Won 2-0 Hibbitt, Nattrass
1971/72 Lost 1-2 Dyson
1970/71 Won 2-0 Robson 2
1969/70 Drew 0-0
1964/65 Won 2-0 Suddick, McGarry
1946/47 Won 6-2 Bentley, Pearson, Shackleton 2, Stobbart, Wayman (FAC)
1919/20 Won 2-0 Dixon, Hall (FAC)
1906/07 Lost 0-1 (FAC)




Games between ourselves and Palace tend to be tight affairs in the main, with last season's two meetings producing just a single goal - and that from the penalty spot.

Our previous three home wins over the Eagles were all by 1-0 margins and it's fair to say that aside from the goals scored (by Papiss Cisse, Andros Townsend and Mikel Merino), only the final scoreline will live in the memory of those at SJP - the TV selectors unsurprisingly overlooking these meetings. 

This latest clash was threatening to be even more forgettable than usual and those free partial season tickets were looking like poor value for money before the 83rd minute of play arrived.  

At that point, a Fabian Schar centre, an Andy Carroll knockdown and Miguel Almiron's shot combined to take this encounter from the mundane to the memorable. The obvious delight of Miggy at finally breaking his duck was matched by relief in the stands, manifesting itself in the most almighty roar. 

For much of the afternoon though, a point from a 0-0 draw looked to be the height of United's ambition despite fielding a front pair of Carroll and Joelinton in a 3-5-2 formation.

Palace created the majority of the scoring chances but the visitors were unable to find a way past Martin Dubravka; the Slovakian making four noteworthy stops to preserve a clean sheet.

Steve Bruce made three changes to the side beaten at Burnley last Saturday, with Jetro Willems, Christian Atsu and Sean Longstaff making way for Florian Lejeune, Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey.

Partnering Schar and Federico Fernandez, Lejeune was making his senior comeback after sustaining knee ligament damage in the corresponding home game back in April and looked to have come through the 90 minutes unscathed.

Paul Dummett meanwhile compensated for the absence of the injured Willems by moving out to left wing back - a position that doesn't particularly suit him and which brought variable results when he found some space down that flank in the opening half an hour of the game.

Aside from an early venture into the box by Isaac Hayden that ended when he tripped over his own feet, Newcastle's only effort of note in the opening period was a neat jink and shot by Almiron that failed to trouble Vincente Guaita.

And the second half unfolded in similar style; Javier Manquillo continuing his recent upturn in form and the pick of a solid back five for handling and frustrating Wilfried Zaha effectively.

However the midfield and forwards suffered frequently from mishit and miscontrolled passes, failing to put pressure on an Eagles back line that had conceded just once in four outings but was weakened by injury and suspension - resulting in players out of position and Academy rookies filling the bench.

First to be sacrificed was Hayden, who was again positioned on the right of the midfield with Miggy in a more central area, where he made a couple of timely interventions to regain possession. 

Hayden's replacement by the elder Longstaff was as much to do with protecting him ahead of a hectic week as his minimal impact on this game, but indicated that an equally laboured display from Jonjo Shelvey wasn't directly to do with fitness issues. At one point it did seem that he'd downed tools in solidarity with the striking Metro drivers, but his precise pass began the move for the goal. 

The introduction of Palace old boy Dwight Gayle for the faltering Joelinton didn't alter anything, with the first four passes aimed towards the substitute striker dropping out of the sky like meteorites. 

Having done his best work of the afternoon in his own box to snuff out set pieces from the visitors though, Carroll met Schar's centre from the right and set up Almiron for a priceless finish.

Victory raised United two places up into ninth - their highest position for over two years - and extended the unbeaten home Premier League run to eight games, something last achieved in 2012.

It certainly wasn't pretty, but once again this season United somehow found a way to win - and collect maximum points ahead of what are a trio of tricky-looking festive fixtures in just seven days.

They may not possess their current ten point cushion between them and the relegation zone by the time they break off for the FA Cup, but for Newcastle reach 25 points from 18 games - their best top-flight return in six years - is an achievement worthy of note. If they add to that tally in the next week or so then who knows, we might even pick a full-strength XI against Rochdale....

The usual litany of post-match comments directed at us included comparisons of the Almiron goal to that of Frank Clark's breakthrough effort against Doncaster, claims that Bruce is "a lucky General" and queries as to whether the fourth instalment in the Goal! movie series was being filmed today. 

Perhaps the most telling one though was a random line overheard outside the ground; "that would have been a masterclass under Rafa." Although one suspects the person who said it was talking about perceptions of the present and previous manager, in some ways today was classic Benitez.

In a way, we've arrived at the next transfer window in a similar position we were perceived to be in before the last one: managing the basics effectively in that defenders are defending, the goalkeeper has got his eye in again and the goals are coming from somewhere, if not from a strike duo. 

Tough to beat, tough to watch: the worry is that we're content with our current level and the only aspiration for growth is on the balance sheet. Maybe the difference will become evident when the current first team boss accepts a lack of transfer activity more willingly than his predecessor. 


Page last updated 02 July, 2020