Friday, May 20, 2022

Almiron curves brilliant winner as the Magpies soar above the Eagles in Prem

SO just why can’t Newcastle bloody the noses of the big boys next season? 

Eddie Howe will never stop playing things down – but he’s just matched Sir Bobby Robson’s record of six straight home wins in 2003/04. 

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Toon match-winner Miguel Almiron goes over the top-less with his celebrationsCredit: Reuters
Miguel Almiron fires Newcastle's clincher on 32 minutes against poor Palace

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Miguel Almiron fires Newcastle’s clincher on 32 minutes against poor PalaceCredit: Rex

It was only last Friday when Howe said “a lot would have to happen” to see a giant leap forward next year. 

But thanks to Miguel Almiron’s wonder goal, Toon are up three places – leapfrogging dismal Crystal Palace – into 11th. 

With five games remaining, Howe’s Mags are onto 40 points and bang in the mix to finish ninth. 

The last time Newcastle finished above ninth was under Alan Pardew in 2011/12. 

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And remember, this lot were winless, joint-bottom and in a pit of despair when Howe took over in November. 

It’s now nine wins from 13 and up to second in the form table for the calendar year. 

And while he’s equalled Sir Bobby in one regard, Howe’s 10th victory as manager moves him above the idolised Newcastle boss on win percentage – second now only to Kevin Keegan. 

Nothing is predictable in football, other than the certainty that the super ambitious Saudi owners are going to throw a load more cash at it this summer. 

And if they are as bang on with their recruitment as they were in January, the Magpies – with St James’ Park a proper fortress again – really could make waves in the immediate future. 

In the here and now, this was all about a stunning winner. 

Few things are rarer on Tyneside than an Almiron goal. 

The Paraguayan has not scored in over 14 months – but his first of the season was well worth the wait. 

Only his ninth goal on his 105th league appearance, he latched onto the irresistible Bruno Guimaraes’ delicious through ball over the top before bending a beauty into the top corner. 

Palace were absolutely atrocious in the first half, clearly suffering from a severe hangover after Chelsea broke their hearts in the FA Cup semis. 

Patrick Vieira’s side were lucky Newcastle hadn’t put them to the sword before they improved after the break. 

But other than Wilfried Zaha firing a great chance wide, the Eagles barely threatened and are now in danger of a promising season falling a little flat. 

Joelinton shares Miguel Almiron's roar delight at Newcastle's winner

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Joelinton shares Miguel Almiron’s roar delight at Newcastle’s winnerCredit: Getty

Vieira made five changes after the Wembley defeat with Vicente Guaita, Nathaniel Clyne, Michael Olise, Conor Gallagher and Odsonne Edouard all returning. 

Unsurprisingly, Howe kept faith with the same team that claimed a last-gasp win at home to Leicester on Sunday. 

On the back of five straight home wins, buoyant Toon tore into the Eagles from the off. 

The Gallowgate End displayed a huge tribute to out-of-form Allan Saint-Maximin as the sides came out to try and rouse their hero. 

And the French winger was clearly pumped for this one, buzzing around everywhere and causing Palace problems with his unique box of tricks. 

One party piece on the right wing included SIX stepovers – as nonplussed Cheikhou Kouyate just stood off and let him finish. 

It wasn’t all for show though, with Newcastle making a couple of decent first-half inroads. 

Palace star man Wilfried Zaha is blocked out by Emil Krafth

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Palace star man Wilfried Zaha is blocked out by Emil KrafthCredit: Rex

Almiron had the best chance after some lovely build up from Brazilian bros Bruno and Joelinton, but just as he was about to pull the trigger from 10 yards, Marc Guehi recovered superbly to block. 

Placid Palace’s planned to exploit mistakes and play on the break.

But liveliest they looked early on was when Zaha reacted to being pushed by Almiron, who was sticking up pal Bruno after a bit of handbags. 

And that was all the fuel the pocket rocket Paraguayan needed to burst into life, putting the Mags ahead with an outrageous finish seconds later. 

The Toon Army haven’t seen a midfielder like Bruno in donkey’s years, and the Samba international followed up his brace against Leicester with a brilliant assist. 

SWAGGER AND FLAIR

Chesting down a throw-in on the halfway line, Bruno let it bounce once before sending a stunning sweeping pass with the outside out his foot down the right flank. 

Fired up Almiron did Tyrick Mitchell for pace and strength, advanced into the box, and from a tight angle curled a beauty beyond Vicente Guaita into the top right corner before whipping his shirt off and launching himself into the crowd. 

Toon were playing with swagger and flair, enjoying possession more than they have all season. 

But Joelinton almost undid it all just before half-time when he gave the ball away cheaply to Edouard at the top of his box, but the striker’s shot was as shoddy as his side’s showing. 

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Joelinton had a huge chance to make amends straight after the break with his head yet could only spoon Matt Targett’s free-kick into the turd and over with the goal gaping. 

Palace finally woke up and started to play, with Zaha firing their best chance of the game inches wide from the top of the box. 

While Newcastle were camped in from there on as Palace threw wave after wave at them, keeper Dubravka was untroubled.

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