Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace
On a day of ‘firsts’ it would be Miguel Almiron who would steal the show.
The Paraguan’s 83rd minute strike sparking wild celebrations both on and off the pitch when, after 27 games played for the club, he finally broke his duck and in turn sealed all three points for the Magpies.
The goal was timed at 2190 minutes after first playing in the famous black and white and United’s number 24 would no doubt be even more delighted to score his first goal in front of the Gallowgate end.
The victory would also be Bruce’s first against Roy Hodgson, at the 7th attempt of asking. Whilst the run of 8 games undefeated at St James Park is this first time this has been done since 2012.
Victory takes Newcastle United up to 9th in the table, equal on points with their next opponents (Manchester United) and just 3 behind Sheffield United in 5th.
Bruce called up Lejeune for his first start of the season after a lengthy layoff through injury, Willems dropping out of the squad to make way.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Lejeune, Dummett (Yedlin, 90), Shelvey, Hayden (S Longstaff, 64), Almiron, Joelinton (Gayle, 77), Carroll
Newcastle started that game brightly. Bruce opting to two up top with Joelinton and Carroll starting as an orthodox pair up front. That seemed to surprise Palace who struggled to cope with the movement of the front men and the willing runners not he flanks in the opening period.
The best chance of the half possibly falling to Almiron, who's neat turn and shot from 15 hards was well held by Guaita in the Palace goal.
United in fact had around 50% of the possession in the first half, their most of any game at St James Park this season.
Whatever had been said at half time saw Palace come out a different side after the break however, and it was Zaha, Ayew and McArthur who seemed to hold the key to the game as chances started to fall the way of those in blue and red.
James McArthur had would go close on more than one occasion whilst Newcastle had Dubravka to thank for a sting of saves that kept United in this one, in particular a fierce shot from Ayew with Palace time and time again cutting through the Magpies back line.
But with the clock ticking down a neat throw in and then cross allowed Andy Carroll to nod the ball back the penalty spot and into the path of an unmarked Almiron. His instinctive volley showed great technique and flew past the despairing Palace keeper to send St James Park in raptures.
Off came the shirt, as the Paraguayan was greeted by a lucky ballboy as the celebrations took hold. A moment to remember for a player who has kept his head up and kept working as hard as any player as the minutes past without any success in front of goal.
The solitary goal was enough to seal the points for United.
After the game Bruce stated 'I always through one goal would decide it as Palace don't give much away'. On Almiron's first goal he added 'I don't think anyone would deny that Almiron deserved the winner'.
Special mentions too for Dubravka who showed again that a snip he was at just £4m after another performance that proved he's one of the top keepers in the Premier League. And to Javier Manquillo, an unlikely hero perhaps, but an outstanding display today that would have earned man of the match for sure but for the goal from Almiron.