Miguel Almiron scored his first goal for Newcastle to give the Magpies a late victory against Crystal Palace and send them into the top half of the Premier League.
A drab contest looked set to end in a stalemate before Andy Carroll headed a cross down for an unmarked Almiron to volley home.
That saw the Paraguayan midfielder break his Newcastle goal drought on his 27th Premier League appearance since joining the Magpies from Atlanta United for a then-club record £20m in January.
The Magpies then comfortably held on for their third victory in four games, sending them above Palace into ninth place.
Palace had most of the possession and their injury-hit defence looked to have dealt with the aerial threat of former England striker Carroll before he played a crucial role in the winner.
Roy Hodgson’s visitors also had the better chances, with Wilfried Zaha and Christian Benteke denied by home goalkeeper Martin Dubravka in each half.
But the visitors were left to rue those misses as their four-match unbeaten run came to an end, seeing them slip one place to 12th.
Return of midfield pair boosts Magpies
Newcastle welcomed back Almiron and Jonjo Shelvey after they missed last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Burnley with minor injuries and they provided a welcome boost as the Magpies remained unbeaten at home since the opening day of the season.
The midfield pair had been instrumental to their team’s run of seven points from nine before the Turf Moor setback and added some guile to go with Newcastle’s grit.
Both showed some neat touches in midfield while Almiron curled a tame effort straight at Palace goalkeeper early on while Shelvey sent a speculative effort just over from near the halfway line.
Then with time running out, Almiron fund himself in space in the box to pounce on Carroll’s knock-down and his relief was clear, the 25-year-old peeling off his shirt in celebration, which saw him receive a booking.
Manager Steve Bruce sprang a selection surprise by asking Joelinton to play up front with Carroll, not out on the left, but for the most part the strike pair struggled to connect and the Magpies did not give him enough service.
But, just as Palace were beginning to pile on the pressure, all that changed as Fabian Schar’s right-wing cross found Carroll at the far post to lay on Almiron’s match-winner.
Palace stand firm till late lapse
Scott Dann and Jairo Riedewald both dropped out of Palace’s starting line-up after Monday’s 1-1 draw with Brighton, with left-back Patrick van Aanholt returning from the hamstring injury that forced him off early in the win over Bournemouth.
Midfielder James McCarthy also came in for just his second league start since his summer move from Everton.
But with Jeffrey Schlupp, Gary Cahill and Joel Ward injured and Mamadou Sakho still serving the suspension for his red card against Bournemouth, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate had to fill in as a makeshift centre-half.
Yet despite being up against a two-man attack, the Senegal international and the rest of the Palace defence dealt comfortably with most of what Newcastle could throw at them.
The Eagles even ventured forward, with Zaha testing Dubravka from a wide angle in the first half. James McArthur then twice went close after the break, while Benteke’s low strike was saved by Dubravka on 74 minutes.
But Almiron’s late volley denied Palace the point their manager Hodgson felt they deserved, inflicting their first defeat since losing to leaders Liverpool on 23 November.
‘He’s a great pro’
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce on Miguel Almiron’s match-winner: “I think the crowd showed their appreciation for him. I hadn’t heard anything like it.
“When he came to the club in January he lifted the place with his pace, trickery and skills. Unfortunately he hadn’t managed a goal but today he got it and we’re all delighted for him.
“It was a difficult chance, coming from behind him, and he managed to smash it into the net.
“My goalkeeper made a few saves but I don’t think anyone can deny that Almiron deserved the winner. He’s a great pro, he works really hard, and when they work hard like that they deserve all the success they find.”
Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson: “We had a lot of chances and were in pole position to win the game. We had done very well to stop the crosses but didn’t do well with that one at the end.
“We had chances but didn’t take them and you now that at the end, if one team scores it’s going to be very difficult to come back into it.
“Andy Carroll beat Martin Kelly in the air, that’s what he does, and maybe we could have done better with the knock-down. But the back four was good today.
“I’m sad we couldn’t get more from the game, a point was the minimum we deserved. I’m not disappointed with the performance, I’m just sad they didn’t get the result their performance deserved.”
More to follow.