Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace: Merino bags winner as Eagles struggle for goals once more

The Spaniard scored his first goal in a Toon shirt to help his side take three points.

Newcastle United 1-0 Crystal Palace: Merino bags winner as Eagles struggle for goals once more
Merino celebrates his winner (photo: Getty Images / Nigel Roddis)
Newcastle United
1 0
Crystal Palace
Newcastle United: Elliot; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Manquillo; Hayden, Shelvey; Ritchie, Perez, Atsu; Joselu.
Crystal Palace: Speroni; Ward, Dann, Sakho, Van Aanholt; Cabaye, McArthur, Milivojevic, Schlupp; Zaha, Townsend.
SCORE: 1-0, Merino 86'.
REFEREE: Stuart Atwell (ENG): Booked - Lejeune, Cabaye, Van Aanholt, Lascelles, Manquillo, Joselu.
INCIDENTS: Premier League fixture at St James' Park.

Crystal Palace's first wait for an away goal this season goes on as they fell to defeat against Newcastle United on Saturday, the Magpies leaping up to sixth as a result.

Mikel Merino came off the bench to score the winner just a few minutes from time, deciding a largely dull game that went over an hour without either side having a shot on target.

Rafa Benitez's side won't have done the value of their for sale club any harm with the win, despite the dreary way it came about.

Roy Hodgson meanwhile, has much to mull over after Palace failed to capitalise on their momentous win against Chelsea a week ago, the Eagles remaining stuck to the bottom of the table.

Slow game settled late

With Benitez known for setting his teams up to defend first and attack better, combined with Palace's lack of goals or a striker, it wasn't a surprise that the goals didn't fly in early on. 

However, the lack of action was a little too much for some as camera's panned to fans nodding off.

They were awoken on the half-hour mark by a wild Yohan Cabaye challenge on De Andre Yedlin, coming in behind on the full-back with a scissor kick. The home crowd were incensed as Stuart Atwell opted for a yellow, rather than sending the Frenchman for an early bath.

Christian Atsu had a half chance as the action got back underway, striking into the side-netting after Jonjo Shelvey played him in.

Palace then had the best chance of the first 45, Andros Townsend bursting down the right and hanging a cross up for makeshift striker Wilfried Zaha, the Ivorian heading wide. 

The first shot of the game finally came just after the seventy minute mark, Mo Diame curling a shot into the hands of Julian Speroni. The 'keeper was thrust into action again two minutes later, pushing Shelvey's effort away.

Those efforts had suggested that Newcastle were about to burst into life on the scoresheet, and that's what they managed to do four minutes from time.

Merino was the hero, converting well after Matt Ritchie's corner deflected off McArthur and into the Spaniard's path.