Steve Bruce was thrilled to see £21million signing Miguel Almiron finally end his drought in style as Newcastle snatched a priceless Premier League victory over Crystal Palace.
The 25-year-old Paraguay international marked his 27th appearance for the Magpies with his first goal, in the process claiming a 1-0 victory which was celebrated wildly at St James’ Park.
Head coach Bruce, whose backing for the player he inherited from predecessor Rafael Benitez has been unstinting, said: “I nearly did a Jose Mourinho. Even I got carried away.
“I’m delighted. I think everybody who has seen him play and watched him now over 12 months – I’ve only had the privilege to work with him for four, five, whatever it is, and I think we’re all delighted because he’s a good player, great pro, great lad, very, very popular.
“You want people like that to succeed and thankfully, he’s got it off his back which is good to see.
“My mates told me last January when he came in that he lit the place up, that he gave a sparkle to the place, and I can see why. Of course along the way, he needs to score a goal and thankfully today, he’s done it.”
Almiron’s big moment came seven minutes from time when he fired home from close range after Andy Carroll had headed down Fabian Schar’s cross, and the booking he received for removing his shirt as his emotions took over will hardly have registered.
That said, had it not been for keeper Martin Dubravka, who had earlier saved from Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Christian Benteke, his strike might have counted for significantly less.
Bruce said: “Dubravka is a very, very good goalkeeper, as he’s proving. He’s made two, three saves – the one in the first half, I thought, was the best one. I think he would expect to make the other two, but the one in the first half, I thought, was outstanding.”
Having started brightly, Newcastle rather lost their way and Palace looked the more likely to take the points until Almiron’s intervention, and that was a source of frustration for Eagles boss Roy Hodgson.
He said: “I was rather hoping we’d even win it, let alone lose it. Our second-half performance followed on from a good first half. We had a lot of the ball and created a lot of goal chances.
“But you’ve got to take your goals chances and we didn’t. As a result, of course, as the game goes on, there’s always that risk that a cross will come in and Andy will out-jump whoever is marking him and if you’re unlucky, the ball will fall very kindly for one of the other players.
“But that’s football.”
Hodgson also played down a difference of opinion between Zaha and Patrick Van Aanholt in the aftermath of the goal.
He said: “They might have had a word with each other there, but if you’ve been in football a long time, that doesn’t surprise you that those things happen.”
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