Crystal Palace 1 Newcastle United 0
- Peter Bankes
Former Newcastle United loanee Patrick van Aanholt’s free kick gave Crystal Palace a 1-0 win over the ten-man Magpies on Saturday afternoon.
Dutch full back van Aanholt found the target with a set piece in the first half’s dying minutes to provide what proved to be the game’s defining moment.
Goalkeeper Martin Dúbravka produced a string of saves to keep Palace at bay at Selhurst Park but, despite efforts from Joelinton and Fabian Schär forcing good saves from Dúbravka’s opposite number Vicente Guaita, the Magpies - who had Valentino Lazaro sent off in the dying seconds - couldn’t find a leveller.
Dúbravka was in inspired form during the first half in south London. Palace applied plenty of early pressure, with Miguel Almirón’s fine intervention preventing Wilfried Zaha from connecting with Jordan Ayew’s deep cross. From the resulting corner, Newcastle’s Slovakian stopper excelled, diving to his right to produce an outstanding one-handed save from Gary Cahill’s looping header, hooking it away from goal.
Ayew saw another effort saved and Christian Benteke’s deflected shot looped over after Nabil Bentaleb was robbed in midfield. From that corner, Scott Dann looked certain to open the scoring, only for Dúbravka to pull off another great save.
United threatened only sporadically, with Joelinton’s powerful drive from distance forcing Guaita into a smart stop, but the hosts remained on the front foot. Benteke inexplicably nodded van Aanholt’s free kick wide from close range and Dúbravka denied Ayew once more, before Bentaleb cleared the bar at the other end.
But the goal was coming and, after Ayew had gone close to finding the bottom corner with a curling effort, eventually it arrived courtesy of one-time Magpie van Aanholt, who had a spell on loan at St. James’ Park a decade ago. His free kick from just over 20 yards out was sweetly struck and zipped past Dúbravka’s right hand on its way into the corner.
Ghanaian frontman Ayew struck the woodwork after the restart, firing low against the base of the post, and Cahill headed wide as Roy Hodgson’s men pushed for a second. Benteke had a go at the end of a swift counter-attack, but Newcastle’s number one kept it out with ease.
Allan Saint-Maximin, who was typically full of energy down the left flank, tried an audacious chip from 35 yards that had Guaita scurrying back towards his goal with concern, but he was able to watch it drop just over the crossbar.
It was a moment of invention in an otherwise tough second period for Bruce’s side, who struggled to find their attacking fluency. When they did, Palace held on to their lead; first scrambling away Danny Rose’s low cross across the face of goal, and then when Schär tried his luck from 25 yards, Guaita was equal to it, palming the centre half’s drive over.
Dwight Gayle and Matt Ritchie were summoned from the bench for the final 20 minutes but Bruce’s side were indebted to Dúbravka again, who parried away an Ayew shot just after the United duo’s introduction.
The game became stretched in the final stages as United looked for an equaliser, but it wasn’t forthcoming. Newcastle finished the game with ten men, after Lazaro was shown a straight red card for hauling down Zaha, and Palace held on to claim the points.