Manager Steve Bruce said he “hadn’t heard a roar like it” as Newcastle fans celebrated Miguel Almiron’s first goal for the club.
The Paraguayan midfielder scored a late winner in a drab contest against Crystal Palace to send the Magpies above the Eagles to ninth in the Premier League.
It also saw the 25-year-old break his Newcastle goal drought on his 27th Premier League appearance since joining from Atlanta United for a then-club record £20m in January.
“I think the crowd showed their appreciation for him,” said Bruce. “I think relief is the wrong word – we’re all just delighted for him.
“Since he came to the club in January he lit the place up with his pace, trickery and skills. Day in, day out, he works and works, but unfortunately he’s not been able to manage a goal. Today he’s got the winner and we’re all delighted for him.
“It took a long time, he’s been unfortunate on so many occasions. Today when it fell to him, it was a difficult chance, coming from behind him, and he’s managed to smash it in.
“He’s a great pro, a great lad, and he works really hard. When you’ve got a gem like that they deserve all the success I’m sure will find him.”
The game looked set to end in a stalemate before Andy Carroll headed a cross down for an unmarked Almiron to volley home, and Newcastle comfortably held on for their third victory in four games.
Palace had most of the possession and it seemed their injury-hit defence had dealt with the aerial threat of former England striker Carroll before he played a crucial role in the winner.
The Eagles also had the better chances, with Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke denied by home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in each half, but the visitors slipped one place to 12th after their four-match unbeaten run came to an end.
Return of midfield pair boosts Magpies
Newcastle welcomed back Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey after they missed last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Burnley with minor injuries and they provided a welcome boost as the Magpies remained unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season.
The midfield pair had been instrumental to their team’s run of seven points from nine before the Turf Moor setback and added some guile to go with Newcastle’s grit.
Both showed some neat touches in midfield while Almiron curled a tame effort straight at Palace goalkeeper early on while Shelvey sent a speculative effort just over from near the halfway line.
Then with time running out, Almiron found himself in space in the box to pounce on Carroll’s knock-down and his relief was clear, the 25-year-old peeling off his shirt in celebration, which saw him receive a booking.
Bruce sprang a selection surprise by asking Joelinton to play up front with Carroll, not out on the left, but for the most part the strike pair struggled to connect and the Magpies did not give him enough service.
But, just as Palace were beginning to pile on the pressure, all that changed as Fabian Schar’s right-wing cross found Carroll at the far post to lay on Almiron’s match-winner.
Palace stand firm till late lapse
Scott Dann and Jairo Riedewald both dropped out of Palace’s starting line-up after Monday’s 1-1 draw with Brighton, with left-back Patrick van Aanholt returning from the hamstring injury that forced him off early in the win over Bournemouth.
Midfielder James McCarthy also came in for just his second league start since his summer move from Everton.
But with Jeffrey Schlupp, Gary Cahill and Joel Ward injured and Mamadou Sakho still serving the suspension for his red card against Bournemouth, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate had to fill in as a makeshift centre-half.
Yet despite being up against a two-man attack, the Senegal international and the rest of the Palace defence dealt comfortably with most of what Newcastle could throw at them.
The Eagles even ventured forward, with Zaha testing Dubravka from a wide angle in the first half. James McArthur then twice went close after the break, while Benteke’s low strike was saved by Dubravka on 74 minutes.
But Almiron’s late volley denied Palace the point their manager Hodgson felt they deserved, inflicting their first defeat since losing to leaders Liverpool on 23 November.
‘You can’t get carried away’
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce: “I always thought maybe one goal would decide it because Palace don’t give much away. We try to prime ourselves the same way. My goalkeeper made a few good saves but I don’t think anybody would deny that Almiron deserved the winner.”
On being in the top half of the table: “I’d have taken it because it was difficult at the start [of the season] but in the Premier League you can’t get carried away.
“I look at our fixture list coming up and think ‘wow’ – we’ve got some tough games in a close period of time. We’ll accept where we are because the lads and the staff have worked so hard. There’s a good spirit amongst them, that can go a long way, and they showed that again today.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “We had a lot of chances and were in pole position to win the game. We had done very well to stop the crosses but didn’t do well with that one at the end.
“We had chances but didn’t take them and you now that at the end, if one team scores it’s going to be very difficult to come back into it.
“Andy Carroll beat Martin Kelly in the air, that’s what he does, and maybe we could have done better with the knock-down. But the back four was good today.
“I’m sad we couldn’t get more from the game, a point was the minimum we deserved. I’m not disappointed with the performance, I’m just sad they didn’t get the result their performance deserved.”
Man of the Match – Paul Dummett (Newcastle)
Bruce’s first win against Hodgson – the stats
- Miguel Almiron is the sixth different Paraguayan goalscorer in the Premier League after Diego Gavilan, Roque Santa Cruz, Antolin Alcaraz, Cristian Riveros, and Fabian Balbuena.
- Newcastle United are unbeaten in their last eight home Premier League matches (W4 D4), their longest run at St James’ Park since in April 2012 (nine unbeaten).
- Crystal Palace have failed to score in eight of their 18 Premier League games this season; only bottom side Watford have failed in more (10).
- After seven games unbeaten against Steve Bruce (W3 D4), Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has tasted his first Premier League defeat against the Newcastle manager.
Crystal Palace have a London derby at home to West Ham on Thursday, 26 December (15:00 GMT), before Newcastle play Manchester United at Old Trafford (17:30).