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  • By Alessandro Schiavone at St James' Park

Miguel Almiron's spectacular curled first-half finish inflicts 1000th league defeat on Palace

Newcastle United equalled a club record 6th consecutive league win at St James’ Park thanks to a convincing 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

Miguel Almiron did the damage with an exquisite finish after 32 minutes after galloping into the area before unleashing a bending effort into the roof of the net.

Despite their best efforts to get something from the game after showing a different face in the second-half Vieira’s men couldn’t prevent a 1000th club league defeat across all divisions.

The last time the Magpies won six home games on the spin in the league was under legendary former manager Bobby Robson between January and April 2004, the same year Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira skippered Arsenal to their last Premier League triumph to this day and, of course, the indelible Invincibles season.

The game was only seven minutes old when Allan Saint-Maximin carved out a decent chance for himself after breaking forward but his soft attempt was easily collected by Vicente Guaita.

Such was their shocking passiveness and lack of desire that someone had to invite this season’s FA Cup semi-finalists to the game.

On the touchline Vieira was angered by his players’ lack of trying. But there was little he could do to get a tune out of them until he saw them again in the dressing room at half-time.

Almiron could not have wished for more accommodating opponents than the lethargic South Londoners to finally break his duck for the season.

Rolled in on goal by new St James’ Park fan favourite Bruno Guimaraes, the Paraguayan arrowed an unstoppable finish towards the top corner to fire the Magpies ahead after the half-hour mark.

Second-best and a far cry from the high risk high reward side that dispatched Arsenal 3-0 little over two weeks ago, Newcastle were all over Palace who struggled to handle Vieira’s ex-OGC Nice player Allan Saint-Maximin’s pace, trickery and power throughout the opening 60 minutes.

Yet despite pushing the visitors hard, Eddie Howe’s men missed a tsunami of half-chances in the first period and that’s something the world’s richest club need to address in the next couple of transfer windows if they are to compete for the biggest prizes both domestically and on the international scene.

Moments after sticking a bending effort beyond the palms of Guaita, Paraguay international Almiron came close to his second goal but his thumping volley wasn’t hit with a great deal of conviction and Guaita was equal to it.

The Spaniard also thwarted ex-Lyon midfielder Bruno’s sweet, yet weak volley from distance.

Then from nowhere Odsonne Edouard was presented with a glaring opportunity to restore Palace’s parity on the stroke of half-time but his lame strike lacked both power and accuracy to trouble Martin Dubravka.

Guimaeres then sent an audacious volley from a prohibitive angle straight into the arms of the overworked Spaniard in Palace’s goal.

After the interval Palace increased both their tempo and quality on the ball while they came a long way in terms of commitment levels. And contrary to the first-half, they tried to throw a few punches themselves.

The closest they came to equalising was through Wilfried Zaha on 64 minutes but after an excellent cutback from Odsonne Edouard, the Ivorian rolled an effort just wide of the far post from inside the box.

The Ivory Coast international took the game to Newcastle and made things happen but with little help from his teammates there was only so much he could do.

By then Newcastle had conceded possession and looked to strike on the break.

In the dying seconds of the game Zaha came close again but after cutting inside he missed the target as the home supporters breathed a sigh of relief.

Had he scored he would have pulled level with club legend Mark Bright, who was the last Palace player to score in four consecutive away league games in 1991.

But Howe's men battled bravely and hung on to all three points as they made it six league wins in a row on home turf for the first time in 18 years.

The late Robson will undoubtedly be proud in his grave tonight.


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