Steve Bruce gives his verdict on Joelinton's goal and performance for Newcastle United
Steve Bruce hailed his team after they restarted their Premier League campaign with their biggest win of the campaign.
The club beat 10-man Sheffield United 3-0 behind closed doors at St James’s Park thanks to goals from Allan Saint-Maximin, Matt Ritchie and Joelinton.
And the result moved the club 11 points clear of the relegation zone, with 38 points, ahead of Wednesday night’s home game against Aston Villa.
Joelinton’s strike was his first in the Premier League, which was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, since last August.
The striker missed a good first-half chance, but started and finished a move in the 78th minute with a close-range strike to cap a memorable afternoon for Bruce’s team at the near-empty stadium.
“He wants to do well,” said head coach Bruce. “Of course it’s been difficult for him. He’ll only get better. He wants to achieve things. He scores a goal, and we’ve been working on getting him in that area. We’re very, very pleased.”
Bruce hopes Joelinton, preferred to Andy Carroll up front, will kick on in the club’s remaining games.
“It’s never easy being given the No.9 shirt,” said Bruce. “A young lad like he is, to come from a different county and league, there’s no doubt he’s found it tough. Hopefully, that’ll make it a lot, lot better.”
Bruce also praised Saint-Maximin, who opened the scoring in the 55th minute after Enda Stevens failed to clear a cross from Ritchie.
Saint-Maximin had posted videos of himself staying fit and sharp dribbling round his dog in the garden during lockdown.
And Bruce said: “I said when he walked through the door that he’d get supporters off their seats, but they weren’t here today.
“It’s natural. Whether it’s dribbling round his dog, who knows? He’s an natural footballer. It’s limitless what he can achieve. He’s one of the most naturally gifted footballers I’ve worked with.”
Ritchie – who had passed a late fitness test – netted with a fierce strike in the 69th minute.