Miguel Almiron's brilliance wins it for Newcastle United
The best things come to those who wait. And it had been a long, long wait for Miguel Almiron.
This game was goalless and going nowhere until Andy Carroll found Almiron with a header in the 84th minute. The ball bounced and Almiron struck it perfectly on the half-volley to score his first Newcastle United goal. Almiron whipped off his shirt and ran to celebrate with the fans.
Game over and a Happy Christmas on Tyneside.
This afternoon’s 1-0 win over Crystal Palace moved the club, which has 25 points and is unbeaten eight home games, up to ninth in the Premier League.
And it had everything to do with Almiron, who had covered just about every blade of grass before scoring.
Steve Bruce, without Jetro Willems, made three changes – Almiron, Jonjo Shelvey, and Florian Lejeune returned to the starting XI – and fielded Joelinton up front with Andy Carroll.
Almiron, playing in a more central role, played in Isaac Hayden with a brilliant early ball, but the midfielder slipped in the box. Almiron, restored to the starting XI after missing the Burnley game with a hamstring problem, shot at Vicente Guaita after cleverly turning in the box later in the half.
The midfielder was roaming all over the pitch, while Palace threatened in fits and starts. Wilfried Zaha was their biggest threat in and around the box, and Martin Dubravka stopped a low shot across his goal late in the half.
United, unchanged, pressed on after the break, but Palace, organised and disciplined, made it difficult in the final third of the pitch.
Dubravka denied James McArthur as Palace started to threaten. Bruce replaced Hayden with Sean Longstaff, who had dropped out of the starting XI.
Carroll helped out defensively as Newcastle saw off a series of attacks from the visitors. Bruce replaced Joelinton with Dwight Gayle for the last 13 minutes.
Then came the goal. A ball from the right was headed down by Carroll, and Almiron, thankfully, was in the right place, at the right time.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Lejeune, Fernandez, Dummett (Yedlin, 90); Almiron, Hayden (S Longstaff, 64), Shelvey, Joelinton (Gayle, 77); Carroll. Subs not used: Darlow, Krafth, Atsu, M Longstaff.