Newcastle United 1 Crystal Palace 0: Mikel Merino fires club up to to sixth in table

Jamaal Lascelles and Yohan Cabaye
Jamaal Lascelles and Yohan Cabaye

Mikel Merino claimed all three points for Newcastle United this afternoon with a dramatic late header.

Merino's first strike for the club saw Rafa Benitez's side beat bottom-placed Crystal Palace 1-0 at St James's Park.

Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson

Rafa Benitez and Roy Hodgson

The result saw the club climb up to sixth in the Premier League table.

Benitez had named an unchanged team, while Palace manager Roy Hodgson opted not to field a striker in the absence of Christian Benteke.

Hodgson paired former United winger Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha up front, and they caused Benitez's side a lot of problems in the first half with their pace.

Newcastle's only first-half chance fell to Christian Atsu, who broke up the left and shot into the side netting.

The Gallowgate flag display

The Gallowgate flag display

They struggled to break down Palace, who defended deep and in numbers whenever they were out of possession.

Former United midfielder Yohan Cabaye was fortunate to stay on the pitch after catching DeAndre Yedlin with a late tackle.

Cabaye, booed by Newcastle fans all afternoon along with Townsend, was shown a yellow card by referee Stuart Attwell.

United fared slightly better after the break at a sodden St James's Park, though chances were still few and far between.

Benitez sent on Merino, Mohamed Diame and Aleksandar Mitrovic during the second half. It was Mitrovic's first appearance since serving a three-match ban for elbowing West Ham United's Manuel Lanzini in late August.

And Newcastle found more space in the final third of the pitch, but their breakthrough didn't come until the 85th minute.

Matt Ritchie swung in a corner and Merino flicked a header past Julien Speroni.

NEWCASTLE UNITED: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo; Hayden (Merino, 55), Shelvey; Ritchie, Perez (Diame, 66), Atsu; Joselu (Mitrovic, 78). Subs: Darlow, Gamez, Clark, , Murphy.

CRYSTAL PALACE: Speroni, Ward, van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Dann, Cabaye, Townsend, Zaha (Loftus-Cheek, 77), Sakho, Schlupp, McArthur (Sako, 88). Subs: Hennessey, Tomkins, Fosu-Mensah, Puncheon, Riedewald.

Goal: Merino 85

Bookings: Lejeune 21, Cabaye 28, Aanholt 29, Joselu 66

Referee: Stuart Attwell (Nuneaton)

Attendance: 52,251