MX23RW : Saturday, July 24 04:11:27| >> :120:19528:19528:
Oct 21, 2017 at 3pm UK at St James' Park
Attendance: 52,251
NewcastleNewcastle United
Crystal Palace
Merino (86')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Live Commentary: Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace - as it happened

Relive how the action unfolded at St James' Park as Newcastle snatched an 86th-minute win over Crystal Palace, courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates.

Newcastle United climbed to sixth in the Premier League table courtesy of a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace this afternoon.

Much of the first-half activity revolved around referee Stuart Attwell, who decided not to send off Yohan Cabaye for a reckless lunge on DeAndre Yedlin.

Both teams were devoid of attacking ideas throughout the match and only threatened to score with long-range efforts, as Andros Townsend went close for Palace and Jonjo Shelvey tested Julian Speroni.

It took an 86th-minute corner and a header from substitute Mikel Merino to eventually break the deadlock, securing Newcastle a third home win from five this season and leaving Palace rooted to the bottom.

Relive how the action unfolded on Tyneside with Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates.

A very good afternoon to you all, and it was a very good afternoon indeed for Crystal Palace last weekend as they finally scored their first goals and picked up their first points of the season with that shock victory at Chelsea.

Today the Eagles travel to St James' Park, which will be buzzing amid talk that they might at last see the back of Mike Ashley.

Here are today's teams, starting with the hosts who are unchanged:

NEWCASTLE: Elliot; Yedlin, Lejeune, Lascelles, Manquillo; Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu; Perez, Joselu
Subs: Darlow, Clark, Gamez, Merino, Diame, Murphy, Mitrovic

PALACE: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur, Cabaye, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Zaha, Townsend
Subs: Hennessey, Tomkins, Riedewald, Fosu-Mensah, Loftus-Cheek, Puncheon, Sako

The visitors also go with an unchanged lineup as Roy Hodgson keeps faith with 38-year-old Julian Speroni in goal, despite Wales international Wayne Hennessey being available again having recovered from a knock. The win over Chelsea was the Argentine's first league appearance since May 2016.

With Christian Benteke and Connor Wickham - Palace's only recognised strikers - both sidelined with injury, wingers Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha continue as the makeshift front two. They may not be natural goalscorers but they have the pace and trickery to cause problems wherever they play.

Ruben Lofus-Cheek is back on the bench having been ineligible to face parent club Chelsea. The youngster had been Palace's best player during their opening six games, but Hodgson sticks with two holding midfielders in Yohan Cabaye and Luka Milivojevic.

Cabaye was a cult favourite during his two and a half seasons at Newcastle, scoring 18 goals in 93 appearances including some absolute stunners. He was denied his first of the season for Palace by the dubious goals panel last week, who rightly awarded it as a Cesar Azpilicueta own goal.

Rafa resists the temptation to restore the creative quality of Mikel Merino to his midfield, with Isaac Hayden keeping his place following his goal at Southampton last weekend. Merino has recently been made a permanent signing from Borussia Dortmund after initially joining on loan.

Next to Hayden in midfield, Jonjo Shelvey will be hoping to stay out of trouble and enjoy a productive run in the team. England are short of options in central midfield and Shelvey is certainly one of the most progressive passers of a ball in the Premier League, who is available to Gareth Southgate anyway.

Jonjo Shelvey for Newcastle United during the Premier League match with Everton at Goodison Park on February 3, 2016© SilverHub

Ayoze Perez got off the mark for the campaign in his last outing and will play just behind Joselu up top for the Magpies. The Spaniards only have three goals between them this season, but still Aleksandar Mitrovic struggles to get a look in, the Serbian again having to make do with a place on the bench.

The hosts are still without injured left-backs Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara, so Javi Manquillo continues to fill in, slightly out of position. Dwight Gayle, who scored 26 goals in 74 outings for Palace before leaving for Newcastle in the summer of 2016, also misses out with injury.

All the talk around Newcastle this week has been about the potential takeover fronted by British businesswoman Amanda Staveley. The Toon Army are already fantasising about how they will spend their new fortune and can't wait to bid goodbye to the Ashley regime which has brought the most passionate fanbase in English football so much pain.

Regardless of the ownership, key to Newcastle reestablishing themselves as a Premier League force is keeping Rafael Benitez. The Spaniard has voiced concerns over his future and clubs like Leicester and West Ham would be lining up to take him.

Benitez has spoken about a possible future under Staveley and appears to be committed to the project.

He is quoted by The Sun as saying: "When I signed here it was because I could see the potential. It's one of the top sides in England if you put everything together.

"The question is, is it reaching its level? Obviously, no. Can we do it? I think so. I think we can do better. I don't want to say too much but this club has to be in the top ten."

One of the important things that Benitez has done since taking charge is made St James' Park a fortress again. The Magpies have lost only once in nine Premier League home games under his management and have won 10 of their last 16 in all competitions.

A Newcastle win this afternoon would see them record their highest Premier League points tally after nine games since the 2011-12 season, when they went on to finish fifth under Alan Pardew, who of course left them to manage today's opponents.

After three straight wins, United have now gone three league games without victory. Last weekend's 2-2 draw at Southampton was probably the most frustrating of those results, having taken the lead twice only for Manolo Gabbiadini to peg them back.

With neither Liverpool or Arsenal in action today and Burnley facing a daunting visit to in-form Manchester City, three points today could lift Newcastle to the dizzy heights of sixth. A Premier League with a thriving Newcastle is a better Premier League.

RESULT: There was a six-goal thriller at Stamford Bridge to start the Premier League weekend. Chelsea led, then trailed, then came back to win 4-2 against Watford, with Michy Batshuayi coming off the bench to bag two crucial goals.

Speaking of Chelsea, that upset over the Blues has given Palace belief that they can make a memorable recovery to safety. Another win today could move the Eagles, still bottom of the table, to within two points of safety, after making the worst ever start to an English league season.

It was Wilfried Zaha's return from injury for his first appearance of the season that was the catalyst for Palace's London derby win. Since the start of the 2016-17 campaign, he has been directly involved in more goals than any of his teammates, with eight goals and nine assists. He will continue to be their key player in their relegation battle and it is imperative that he stays fit.

Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace is watched by Jose Manuel Jurado of Watford during the FA Cup semi-final on April 24, 2016© Getty Images

Some Palace fans may be expecting some respite today following successive games against the Manchester giants and Chelsea. However, Newcastle are formidable opposition at St James' Park, where they have accrued seven points from 12 this term.

Roy Hodgson's men may have ended their 731-minute Premier League drought last week, although it took an own goal from Cesar Azpilicueta to do it, but they have not scored on the road since April - and that was injured striker Benteke against Liverpool.

Considering that stat, it is no surprise that Palace's away form makes for miserable reading. They have lost their last six games on their travels by an aggregate score of 18-0, although they have played the Manchester clubs twice each, and Liverpool.

The Londoners are the only club in the Premier League yet to keep a clean sheet this season. They have the joint-worst defensive record in the division, alongside Stoke City, and three times have conceded a lead inside the opening six minutes of matches.

Palace would probably be content to come away from Tyneside with a point today, but this team don't really do draws. They are very much win or bust (mostly bust as of late), having only drawn one of their 28 matches throughout 2017. That will have to change going forward as every point is going to count in their fight against the drop.

HEAD TO HEAD: The last time that these two sides met in the Premier League, Newcastle were 1-0 victors thanks to a free kick from Andros Townsend, who of course lines up against them today. That win was not enough to keep the Magpies from going down.

Andros Townsend celebrates scoring with his allegedly 'stunning' free kick during the Premier League game between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace on April 30, 2016© Getty Images

Newcastle have only lost one of their last 13 league and cup games against the Eagles, although that was a heavy defeat at the hands of Pardew as Yannick Bolasie and James McArthur each bagged twice in a 5-1 thrashing at Selhurst Park in November 2015.

Palace have only won on one of their six Premier League trips to St James' Park - a 2-1 success in March 1998. Alan Shearer was on the scoresheet for Newcastle that day, but his strike was cancelled out by goals from Attilio Lombardo and Matt Jansen.

PREDICTION: Palace should be buoyed after their triumph over Chelsea, but Newcastle are very strong at home and I fancy them to send the Eagles back to losing ways with a 2-1 victory.

KICKOFF: Newcastle get us underway in front of more than 50,000 roaring Geordies.

Townsend's first touch is greeted with a chorus of boos. The England international lasted only five months at St James' Park. There are a few jeers too, but not many, for Cabaye, who is clearly more fondly remembered.

Newcastle have had most of the ball in the early going but neither side have really settled as yet. Ritchie put one cross into the box but Joselu's first touch was closer to a return pass and the threat soon diminished.

Ward is caught on the ball and Atsu darts into the area. He tries to square the ball to the Spanish duo in the danger area but can't generate any power on his cross under pressure from the retreating Palace full-back.

The veteran Speroni is spritely off his line as Shelvey tries to send Ritchie in behind. He then proceeds to kick the ball straight out of play, but clearly has the confidence of his manager after keeping Hennessey out of the team.

Newcastle move the ball along the edge of the box for Shelvey to line up a shot which is blocked. England manager Southgate is in the stands today so the former Liverpool man will be keen to impress.

Some good pressing from Ritchie nearly forces Sakho into a mistake in his own half. The Frenchman is a strong defender but he must give his manager some nervy moments when he's on the ball!

Zaha has shown a glimpse or two of what he is capable of in the opening 15 minutes, but Palace's problem is that there is nobody in the box when the Ivory Coast international gets to the byline.

Really nice move from Palace as Zaha spins away from Yedlin and feeds Townsend down the left. He cuts inside onto his right foot and tees up McArthur, whose first-time shot from 20 yards is blocked by Atsu, who followed his runner all the way.

Schlupp tries to release Zaha down the left channel early but Lascelles comes across to make a crunching challenge. Neither side has held back in the opening minutes but referee Stuart Attwell has been happy to let most things go so far.

YELLOW! However, there is no way that Attwell could have let that one go. Townsend goes past Leijune on the right and the Newcastle defender cynically brings him down with a stamp on the Achilles.

Shelvey dives into a 50-50 tackle with Sakho and leaves the Palace defender on the floor clutching his leg. He's a bit of a wild child but that was a fairly contested challenge from the midfielder, he just happened to catch Sakho on the follow through.

Schlupp is getting forward whenever he can. After just getting under a header from Zaha's cross, he chases down the ball and fizzes it back into the box, forcing Elliot to make an important intervention at his near post. The former Leicester man then takes on an 18-yard shot which dribbles wide.

Perez clips a ball to Ritchie on the right edge of the area, but the Palace defence is quickly on him and the shot from the Newcastle winger is deflected behind for their first corner of the game.

YELLOW! If the boos were sporadic before for Cabaye, they are about to get deafening. The former United midfielder, frustrated by Palace not getting a penalty moments earlier, absolutely flies into Yedlin. Referee Attwell takes his time before deciding to only caution Cabaye, when he could easily have shown him red. There was nothing in the penalty appeal either, with Zaha going down way too easily.

BOOKING: Lascelles and Van Aanholt were also booked in the melee that followed Cabaye's tackle. There has been very little quality to it so far, but this game is in danger of boiling over.

Ritchie attempts a very acute ball into the box towards Joselu, who is easily knocked off the ball by Sakho. Newcastle's front two aren't the most physical so if that's how they are going to play they might be better with Mitrovic on, although he's probably the last player they'd want when things are getting feisty.

SHOT! Finally some activity of note in one of the boxes as Atsu dribbles at pace, holds off the challenge of Ward and then fires a powerful shot into the side-netting.

Joselu makes a great clearing header at the near post from a Cabaye free kick that would have been very difficult for goalkeeper Elliot to deal with had the striker not bravely intervened.

UPDATE: No goals here but there have been two at Huddersfield, who amazingly lead Manchester United 2-0. That's great news for the league leaders Manchester City, who are 1-0 up against Burnley. Elsewhere, it is Bournemouth 2-0 Stoke and Swansea 0-1 Leicester.

That is the flaw of playing Zaha as a striker. Townsend, drifting out to the right frequently, gets past his man and stands a cross up for Zaha, who has the leverage to get above Lejeune but there is no conviction to his header which drifts wide.

It really has been a scrappy first half, with neither goalkeeper called into action. My prediction of 2-1 is looking ambitious because at this stage we would be lucky to get one goal.

At last something worth watching - a footrace between Yedlin and Zaha down the Newcastle right. It was the American who was the attacker and the backtracking Zaha cannot keep up as he drags him down.


Stuart Attwell blows the whistle to signal the end of a first half in which he was probably the central figure, choosing not to send off Cabaye for his reckless lunge on Yedlin. The referee probably got it spot on, but that might not be what Rafael Benitez thinks come full time.

There was no lack of effort or energy from either side in the opening 45 minutes, but neither presented an attacking threat whatsoever. Townsend has been bright for Palace but they are badly missing an attacking focal point. Newcastle too could do with a greater presence up top.

The best chance of the game so far fell to Wilfried Zaha, who met his back-post header with the conviction you might expect from a flashy winger. Christian Atsu ruffled the side-netting for Newcastle with a left-footed drive, but the goalmouth action has been minimum.

STATS: The first-half numbers don't make pretty reading: one shot on target between the two teams, who have split the possession 47-53 in Palace's favour. The only number of note is the four bookings handed out in this fiery encounter.

BENCH WATCH: This game badly needs an injection of quality, so Rafa could turn to Mikel Merino who is already a favourite with the Toon Army. Roy Hodgson might be more content to settle for a point but has Loftus-Cheek to call on for some extra dynamism in the last 20 minutes.

A reminder that Sports Mole has this afternoon's Premier League action well covered. You can follow live coverage of Huddersfield vs. Manchester United, Manchester City vs. Burnley and Swansea vs. Leicester from our live commentaries page.

KICKOFF: The action resumes with both sides unchanged as it stands...

Out of everybody, Townsend looks like the player who might make something happen. He turns away from Hayden but is crowded out by three Newcastle bodies by the left touchline, with nobody in the area to aim at.

Palace counter two-on-two and Zaha sends Townsend through down the left channel. The winger tries to cut inside but is thwarted by a very important tackle from Leijune and the danger passes.

The visitors have started the second half well and the St James' crowd are getting a bit restless. For the first time in the contest, one side has grabbed control of possession and are moving it nicely, if not too progressively.

Zaha knocks a ball into the near post but it is nowhere near the run of Schlupp, and Palace have no other options in the box. Loftus-Cheek would change that, but Hodgson may feel it is too early to overcommit.

SUBSTITUTION: Benitez has seen enough and he brings on Merino in place of Hayden. With him and Shelvey in midfield there is no excuse now for Newcastle not to get the ball forward quicker.

Newcastle need much more from their wide players. Ritchie has been pretty anonymous so far and Atsu has also been on the edge of the game. The Magpies look short of ideas, even though scoring this season hasn't been a major problem.

YELLOW! Javi Manquillo becomes the fifth name to enter the book for a needless slide on McArthur over by the byline. Completely unnecessary and likely born out of frustration at this disappointing Newcastle performance.

Atsu creates a yard of space to whip in a cross which evades the target of Joselu. The Spaniard has been starved of service but is not asking enough questions of the Palace defence himself.

Lascelles is very nearly the unlikely creative outlet for the hosts as he splits the Palace defence with a pass aimed for Ritchie, but the Scotland winger can't bring the ball under control.

SHOT! Newcastle give the ball away in their own half and Townsend nearly makes them pay by cutting back onto his left foot and bending a left-footed shot a few yards over the crossbar. That is about as close as we have come at either end.

SUBSTITUTION: Benitez swaps Perez for Diame in the hope of some more impetus going forward. Perez's Spanish compatriot Joselu is shown a yellow card for going through the back of Cabaye.

Having just been booked, Joselu is fortunate not to be pointed towards the tunnel after wildly hacking down McArthur. The Spaniard has offered very little and Rafa must be thinking it is Mitrovic time.

SHOT! Newcastle finally work Speroni but it is a routine save for the veteran from Diame's 22-yard curler. The substitute did well to turn away from Milivojevic and get his shot away.

SHOT! This time Speroni is troubled by a swirling Shelvey shot from range. He gets his body behind the ball but it's not a convincing save and St James's roars as they sense their team is just getting on top.

SUBSTITUTION: First change from Palace and it says a lot about their satisfaction with a point as Zaha comes off for Loftus-Cheek. Hodgson might not want to push the fit-again winger too much, or it might be tactical but either way it is a cautious move.

It isn't always the case but Sakho shows incredible composure in his own box to get Palace out of a sticky situation, after Speroni had charged off his line and failed to collect a cross from Ritchie.

SUBSTITUTION: As Dann receives treatment after taking an Atsu shot in the face, Newcastle use the break in play to make their final change with Mitrovic on for the ineffective Joselu.

CHANCE! Loftus-Cheek runs down on goal and a slip from Lejene allows him to fire a cross-cum-shot towards the back post, which is just out of the reach of the raiding Van Aanholt.

Newcastle are trying to pen Palace back but they don't have the quality to break them down as it stands. The visitors counter through Townsend but the Magpies get enough bodies back to snuff out the danger.

Ritchie knocks a cross towards the back post but Van Aanholt clears with a great defensive header.


Newcastle surely steal the three points late on through substitute Mikel Merino! The goal comes from a corner as Merino outmuscles the combination of McArthur and Schlupp to power a header past Speroni for his first Newcastle goal.

SUBSTITUTION: Hodgson throws on Bakary Sako for the final few minutes and Palace throw bodies forward in the hope of snatching an equaliser, but Newcastle defend their box well for now.

There will be FOUR minutes of added time here. Can Palace find a response?

Desperation from Townsend as he shoots high into the stands on his right foot from 30 yards out.

Dann has been thrown up top but his foul on Yedlin actually releases the pressure on Newcastle.


That long slog appeared destined to finish 0-0 but the new Toon Army hero Mikel Merino has seized the Magpies three points which take them to sixth in the Premier League table this evening. Palace remain bottom and are going to stay there unless they can find a solution to their striker crisis.

You can read our assessment on the action at St James' Park here. Or, catch up on the more entertaining Premier League action from this afternoon, which includes a shock Huddersfield win over Manchester United, in our match reports section. That's it from me. Thanks for joining us today!

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Roy Hodgson plays it cool during the Premier League game between Crystal Palace and Chelsea on October 14, 2017
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