Almiron promises more goals after breaking Newcastle duck
Miguel Almiron is confident there are more goals to come after finally opening his Newcastle account almost 11 months after his arrival on Tyneside.
The 25-year-old Paraguay international fired the Magpies to a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at St James’ Park on Saturday, and the celebrations which greeted his strike were as much about the identity of the scorer as the points his efforts secured.
Almiron, a £21million January signing from Atlanta United, was playing his 27th game for the club and he had repeatedly been frustrated in front of goal.
The end of that drought raised the roof at St James’, and he told NUFC TV: “I was very happy. I thought about my family because they have supported me in the good and the bad times.
“It was lovely, actually, and it was very important for the team and the supporters because we are dealing with every challenge we have, especially at home, in a good way.
“I believe many more are on the way.”
Almiron’s intervention came seven minutes from time as he latched on to Andy Carroll’s knock-down from a Fabian Schar cross to beat goalkeeper Vicente Guaita.
It was perhaps cruel on Palace, who had recovered from a timid start during which Newcastle looked likely to win at a canter to dominate much of what followed, but crucially without being able to find a way past Martin Dubravka, who made fine saves from Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Christian Benteke.
If Almiron stole the headlines as the Magpies climbed to ninth place in the table, there was good news too for team-mate Florian Lejeune, who played his first game since April after recovering from a second cruciate ligament injury.
Lejeune said: “The first three or four balls were important for me. To feel the tackle again, it is important for you in the head.
“After that, I didn’t think about the injury and could just play. In the second half, it got easier for me. The first 15 minutes were difficult. The intensity was tough, but it was good.”
Palace boss Roy Hodgson headed south disappointed to be doing so empty-handed and bemoaned the chances which had gone begging.
However, he was able to take plenty of positives, one of them the performance of Republic of Ireland midfielder James McCarthy, who made just his second league start for the club he joined from Everton in August.
Hodgson said: “He played very well at West Ham when he got a start. Since then because (Cheikhou) Kouyate has been playing in midfield and the other two have been doing so well, he’s had to content himself with coming on at some stage of the game.
“It was good that he got a chance to start and good that he took that chance so well. We certainly didn’t lose the game as a result of having moved Cheikhou Kouyate to the back and James McCarthy to midfield because both of those two did their jobs excellently well.”