For Steve Bruce, everything would have been an improvement over his team’s last two performances. The beleaguered Newcastle manager arrived in south London with criticism still ringing in his ears after two successive 2-0 defeats and left with the club’s first win at this pitch since 2013 thanks to two goals in the last three minutes from Callum Wilson – his seventh of the season – and Joelinton.
On a night characterized by a series of missed chances at either end before Newcastle eventually broke the deadlock, only the Brazilian’s third Premier League goal since his £ 40million move from Hoffenheim in 2019 came within minutes of missing a golden opportunity. to give him the lead. But after throwing Wilson’s smart finish 60 seconds earlier, a huge deflection when his shot hit Gary Cahill ensured it was really Newcastle’s night at the end.
“The players reacted to the end of a tough week – winning late isn’t a bad thing to have,” Bruce admitted, before turning to Joelinton. “No matter the price or where you come from, sometimes you need time. In Joe’s case, the price and the # 9 shirt meant he struggled at times. But the child wants to do well and now I hope we will see the best of him.
Considering that the last seven games between these two teams had produced just seven goals, TV audiences watching at home probably weren’t expecting much entertainment on Friday night. Newcastle entered the game after having had fewer shots than any other team in the division, so Wilson’s return from injury at least offered Bruce a focal point for his attack, although he lacked the creativity of ‘Allan Saint-Maximin due to a muscle. injury.
Palace have now lost 15 of their last 17 Premier League games without Wilfried Zaha, whose partner gave birth to a son on Friday as the Ivorian international continues to self-isolate after testing positive for Covid, and they missed their talisman here despite creating several decent chances.
Bruce had admitted that Newcastle needed to improve considerably after the losses to Chelsea and Southampton and that the visitors had managed four shots in the 20th minute as they pushed Palace back into their own half, although neither really troubled Vicente Guaita .
Their opponents finally registered a first shot of the game soon after when Karl Darlow matched Eberechi Eze’s effort at around where he scored his first Premier League goal from a direct free kick against Leeds. The Newcastle keeper has made more saves than anyone in the league this season as he continues to replace Martin Dubravka and Bruce could struggle to re-enter the Slovak given Darlow’s form. A one-handed reaction stop at his nearby post to refuse a crush on Jeffrey Schlupp was truly exceptional and, much to his manager’s relief, kept his level aside.
Palace started the second half on a front foot and should have gone ahead when Cheikhou Kouyaté rose to meet a corner but could only plant his head above the bar. Despite their usual defensive skill, however, Roy Hodgson’s side have only achieved one clean sheet this season and Newcastle could have broken the deadlock much sooner if Joelinton had shown more awareness after being associated with Jeff Hendrick.
Wilson was next to dismiss his opportunity after meeting Javier Manquillo’s cross on the right flank before substitute Christian Benteke’s header hampered Darlow in what seemed to be a running theme.
Still, if those attempts were bad, Joelinton still had something worse up his sleeve. Matt Ritchie’s cross took in to pass Guaita, but the Brazilian made only the slightest contact with the ball and immediately fell to his knees in embarrassment. Benteke’s header over Patrick Van Aanholt’s cross with 10 minutes to go finally managed to force Darlow to make another save. It was Palace who seemed most likely to take the victory at death as Michy Batshauyi was inches away from turning Van Aanholt’s cross, but Wilson and Joelinton had other ideas. “All the losses hurt and this one hurt because we didn’t play well,” admitted Hodgson.