What Yasir Al-Rumayyan didn’t do in the Newcastle dressing room as Liverpool face stadium nightmare – Ciaran Kelly

Yasir Al-Rumayyan was looking forward to seeing some of Newcastle United’s mid-season signings play in person for the first time against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night. However, it was a unique record purchase from a different era that offered a timely reminder to the Magpies’ non-executive chairman that he could still have a part to play in the club’s future during the 1-0 win.

It was Miguel Almiron, of course, who took the lead with the only goal of the match after expertly shooting into the upper corner after half an hour of play. It was Almiron’s first newcastle goal since February 2021 and you could tell he meant a lot to the Paraguayan international when he took off his shirt and jumped into the crowd to celebrate with supporters at st james park.

Almiron has had to be patient to get a run on the side under Eddie Howe, but the 28-year-old has been playing with a newfound faith since replacing the injured Ryan Fraser against the Wolves earlier this month. Perhaps most surprisingly, Almiron has fire in his stomach again and the striker even ran into Wilfried Zaha seconds before his well-executed shot.

READ MORE: Yasir Al-Rumayyan sees Bruno moment, Miguel Almiron fight and deal Newcastle must make – 5 things

Was it surprising that Almiron received a standing ovation when he was brought out later? This was another priceless victory, Newcastle’s sixth successive home win, as Eddie Howe’s side leveled on points with 10th-placed Brighton. Newcastle have now reached the 40-point mark with five games to spare and only Liverpool have scored more points in 2022.

That seemed an unimaginable prospect when Al-Rumayyan last turned up for a game at St James’ in January, when Newcastle were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One side Cambridge United. Newcastle’s position in the Premier League table wasn’t much better at the time either, and Howe’s side were second from bottom with just 11 points to his name.

Al-Rumayyan visited a shocked dressing room after that humiliating exit from the cup, where he reiterated his support, and the Saudi returned on Wednesday night to share a much happier moment with players and coaching staff without feeling the need to make a big speech. . In a way, that showed how far Newcastle had come. Instead, Al-Rumayyan, Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, Jamie Reuben and associates, including Majed Al Sorour, CEO of the Saudi Golf Federation, joined players and staff for a post-game team photo before embark on your own kick. on the grass

You suspect the outfield staff will be glad to have some time before Newcastle’s next home game, but the way the Magpies are achieving results, even Liverpool won’t necessarily enjoy coming to St James next week. Dan Burn even went so far as to compare Wednesday’s atmosphere to the Champions League nights he witnessed as a season ticket holder at the East Stand as a child.

Perhaps it’s easy to see why Jurgen Klopp wanted to postpone this game so his team could have more time to prepare after the Reds’ Champions League semi-final first leg against Villarreal. Newcastle may be almost certain, even if Howe won’t admit it until it’s mathematically the case, but there won’t be a break until the season ends on May 22. In fact, the players were in a training session on May 22. the morning of the Palace game while Howe and his staff used every hour at his disposal.

Eddie Howe applauds the fans after the match
Eddie Howe applauds the fans after the match

There have been times in the past where Newcastle’s form has slipped in the final games of the campaign, but Howe will be desperate for his side to finish as high up the table as possible. After all, there were only three points separating Newcastle from ninth place going into this game and, if that wasn’t enough incentive to beat Palace, some of these players are also running out of games to show they can play a part. . in this new era.

This match, therefore, was another test of where Newcastle are at the moment, as Howe’s side were drawn against another side seeking the top 10 after defeating both Leicester City and Wolves earlier this month. . Palace may have been sore after an FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea at the weekend, but the Eagles had only lost two of their previous nine games in all competitions. Vieira’s team had even taken points from Man City and Arsenal during that run.

However, these Palace players have never experienced St James’ Park when it is like this. In the words of Newcastle deputy captain Jonjo Shelvey, listening to ‘Local Hero’ on the way to the stadium, ‘words can’t explain it when the fans are shooting’. They were certainly in the mood once again on Wednesday night when Wor Flags presented an impressive Allan Saint-Maximin tribute at Gallowgate End before a ball was kicked.

The electric atmosphere under the lights will have taken Vieira back to his playing days at Arsenal and taking on Sir Bobby Robson’s high-flying Magpies. So it was quite fitting that Vieira was on the opposition bench, as Howe looked to become the first Newcastle manager since Sir Bobby, in 2004, to win six successive Premier League games at St James.

“Doing that would be an amazing thing for us and doing anything to do with Sir Bobby Robson’s name and trying to achieve one of his milestones would be brilliant for us,” he told reporters before the match.

“Playing at home is something unique here. It is a privilege to play in this stadium and the atmosphere created by the fans has been fantastic.”

There was a quick turnaround between games, but Howe unsurprisingly opted to name an unchanged team after Newcastle’s 2-1 win against Leicester last time out. As buoyed as Howe was by the intensity, resilience and desire with which his team played against the Foxes, the Newcastle manager wanted “a little more control” and to see the Black and Whites “express themselves” more with the ball.

Well, there were barely seven minutes left on the clock when a fine play between Bruno and Joelinton opened Palace and the latter entered Almiron. However, the Paraguayan international’s shot from inside the area was blocked behind for a corner.

However, the crowd cheered for that stretch of play and, a few minutes later, Saint-Maximin fired into the heart of the Palace defence, before flicking a shot wide, which was saved by Vicente Guaita. Saint-Maximin, feeding off that Gallowgate welcome before the game, seemed in the mood to impress. In fact, an elaborate set of steps in front of the east stand generated one of the loudest roars of the first half.

But it was another striker, Almiron, who ended up pulling a rabbit out of his hat in the 32nd minute. Bruno Guimaraes played an impressive lofted pass over the right for Almiron to run towards him and the striker stopped Tyrick Mitchell before finishing brilliantly into the top corner. Such was the quality of the shot that you would not have imagined that it was Almiron’s first goal in 39 games.

Miguel Almiron's goal in the first half marked the difference between both teams
Miguel Almiron’s goal in the first half marked the difference between both teams

Newcastle deservedly went into halftime in the lead after one of the best ball displays from the Magpies in the first half for some time. At the center of that improvement was Bruno and a frustrated Conor Gallagher resorted to bringing down the midfielder at one point just before half-time.

Clearly Newcastle were in control and Howe’s side could even have doubled their lead in the 48th minute, but Joelinton headed in from Matt Targett’s free kick. However, although Palace did not represent much of a threat, in a game of few clear chances, the visitors were always going to be in this game as long as it remained 1-0. Wilfried Zaha sent a well-timed warning midway through the second half when the Palace striker fired wide from close range after Odsonne Edouard rolled the ball into his team-mate’s path.

While there wasn’t necessarily any nervousness inside the stadium (Newcastle supporters cheering for their team throughout), Howe acknowledged fresh legs were needed and Joe Willock and Jacob Murphy were introduced by the weary Almiron and Saint-Maximin at the minute 76.

While Newcastle may have panicked at one time, Howe’s side finally managed to close out the game to claim another hard-fought victory. It was quite fitting that Primal Scream’s hit ‘Movin’ on Up’ was played over the PA system full time once again.

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