Miguel Almiron finally opened his Newcastle account with a precious winner as Newcastle ground their way past Crystal Palace.
The Paraguay international, a £21million January signing from Atlanta, marked his 27th appearance for the club with his first goal, an 83rd-minute close-range strike which proved enough to claim a 1-0 victory.
Manager Steve Bruce, who had repeatedly backed the striker during his barren run, celebrated wildly on the touchline as a crowd of 45,453 acclaimed the beaming South American.
Almiron’s strike could hardly have been more timely on an afternoon when his side had faded following a promising start and had to rely upon keeper Martin Dubravka to deny Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Christian Benteke before his intervention.
The home side might have taken the lead twice within the opening six minutes, Joelinton seeing an early shot hacked away and Isaac Hayden slipping after rounding keeper Vicente Guaita from Almiron’s fine threaded through-ball.
With Jonjo Shelvey sitting behind Hayden and Almiron in midfield and Joelinton partnering Andy Carroll in attack, Newcastle prospered initially against a Palace rearguard which included makeshift central defender Cheikhou Kouyate.
Almiron might have broken his Magpies duck when he turned smartly on Paul Dummett’s pass and curled in a shot which Guaita had to dive to his left to claim, although the keeper was less comfortable in dealing with Florian Lejeune’s dipping 24th-minute strike from distance.
In the meantime, Palace had started to make in-roads through Zaha, Jordan Ayew and Benteke, and the striker glanced a header well wide from Patrick van Aanholt’s cross three minutes later.
The Magpies had lost their rhythm and Shelvey’s speculative effort from halfway after he spotted Guaita off his line was as close as they came to breaking the deadlock during an untidy passage of play in the run-up to half-time.
However, it took a 39th-minute save from Dubravka to keep out Zaha’s firmly-hit shot after he had linked well with Benteke, and the Slovakia international was relieved to see Luka Milivojevic’s late free-kick fly just wide.
The second half began with a flurry at both ends during which Dubravka once again came to the rescue to keep out McArthur after he had been slipped in by Van Aanholt, and the Palace midfielder skewed a 57th-minute effort wide with the visitors giving as good as they got.
As Palace relied on neat inter-play, Newcastle took a more muscular approach, and it was the Eagles who almost broke the deadlock with 16 minutes remaining when Benteke was played into space on the right, but saw his powerful strike blocked by the keeper.
But it was the Magpies who snatched victory with seven minutes remaining when Carroll headed a deep cross back across goal and Almiron blasted home despite Guaita’s best efforts.
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