The Warm Down: Superb Saint-Maximin strike earns Newcastle United hard-fought point against Leeds United
NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 17: Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

This was Newcastle United's first Friday night Premier League game in front of crowds since April 2019 and it was a sight to behold as The Magpies and Leeds United registered a captivating 39 attempts on goal between one another.

The first half in particular was electrifying with chances galore but when Raphinha, in acres of space, whipped a dangerous left-footed cross towards Rodrigo, who intelligently dummied the cross and allowed the ball to sail past the returning Karl Darlow into the far corner after just 13 minutes. The atmosphere inside St James' Park started to turn sour as the supporters made their feelings crystal clear towards Newcastle boss Steve Bruce with chants of "Bruce out". 

But a moment of scintillating magic from Allan Saint-Maximin before the break looked to lift spirits as the Frenchman received the ball after an encouraging run from Joelinton and assuredly breezed his way into the area around The Whites' defence and fired a rip-roaring strike past Illan Meslier.

While the second half didn't have the same intensity and energy, it still produced compelling viewing as Saint-Maximin and Patrick Bamford came close to a late winner but with neither side able to find one, despite a combined 16 shots on target in total throughout the game, it leaves both still searching for a much needed first win of the season. 

After failing to pick up all three points against Leeds, the pressure continues to mount on Bruce. It's now the fourth time in Newcastle's last seven Premier League campaigns that they have failed to win any of their opening five matches. The 2015/16 season was one of those forgettable campaigns where The Magpies got off to a disastrous start and ultimately paid the price as they were relegated to the EFL Championship after finishing in 18th. 

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Allan Saint-Maximin is an exceptional talent

Undoubtedly, Saint-Maximin will be instrumental if Newcastle are to avoid the drop this season. The lively winger delivered an excellent Man of the Match performance against Marcelo Bielsa's side, averaging the most shots (five), shots on target (four), touches in the opposition box (10) and take-ons completed (two) for the hosts. 

The Frenchman's well-taken goal on 44 minutes highlighted just how special he is to this Newcastle side as no matter the opposition, he has the technical ability and agility to glide past anyone on the pitch with ease. On several occasions, including when he struck his second goal of the campaign to become The Magpies' top-joint goalscorer alongside Callum Wilson, Saint-Maximin got the better of Liam Cooper and gave the Leeds captain a torrid time. 

With two assists to his name already this season, Saint-Maximin looked to turn provider for Joelinton, after being set up by the Brazilian in the first half for his goal. The 24-year-old presented a wonderful chance to Joelinton just before the hour mark, but he blazed over the bar. Despite not finding the back of the net, the South American also deserved high praise for his performance and was unfortunate not to score in the first quarter of the contest following a good right-footed save by Meslier.  

Prior to his goal, Saint-Maximin was at the heart of Newcastle's attacks, and when he laid the ball to Miguel Almiron, who found Matt Ritchie on the edge of the area, the Leazes End were up on their feet, as his effort was deflected onto the post.

Saint-Maximin, in truth, could have finished the game with a hat-trick and he would have been worthy of taking home the match ball, but two solid saves from his French compatriot stopped the hosts from finding a winner. There's no question the energetic playmaker is invaluable to this Newcastle side.

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Can Bruce shake off an almighty storm from Newcastle supporters?

In what's been an explosive week at Newcastle filled with turmoil surrounding newspaper leaks of training ground confrontations, Bruce's precarious future as manager and The Toon Army's bleak start to the season, it didn't get any easier for Bruce at St James' Park with supporters starting their chants of "we want Brucey out" from the third minute.

At full time, there was an even louder chorus of boos from the home supporters to show their discontent towards Bruce as Newcastle remain winless in the top-flight this season, with just two points after five matches.

The 60-year-old will perhaps slightly be relieved that the black and white contingent's next two games are both away against Watford and Wolves to escape the tension on Tyneside.

Though, if results don't go Bruce's way, his future as Newcastle boss could be decided much sooner than even, he would have anticipated.  

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