Crystal Palace 2 Newcastle 0 – Unlucky Longstaff? How did Palace stifle Howe’s side?

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Crystal Palace 2 Newcastle 0 – Unlucky Longstaff? How did Palace stifle Howe’s side?

Callum Wilson may have returned for Newcastle but there were few other positives at Selhurst Park.

Eddie Howe’s side were stifled, particularly in the first half, and it was no surprise when Jean-Philippe Mateta scored after a neat one-two in the second half and then doubled the lead in the final few minutes.

Alexander Isak and Anthony Gordon found space and grew into the game in the final half an hour, but there was little to show for it.

Newcastle could have had a penalty for a pull-back on Sean Longstaff, but VAR agreed with the on-field decision which completed a frustrating night for the visiting team against an impressive Palace.

Here our writers break down the action.

Was Longstaff unlucky with penalty call?

There were no Nottingham Forest-esque posts on X and Newcastle did not feel quite as aggrieved (or bitter) as their Premier League rivals, but supporters were understandably still demanding a penalty in the 76th minute.

Neither the referee, Thomas Bramall, nor the officials in the VAR studio agreed.

After good work by Isak, who looked dangerous when he was pulled out wide, the ball was played into Longstaff on the right-hand side of the box. Given the chance to shoot, Longstaff dallied, allowing Will Hughes the opportunity to grab his shoulder.

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Longstaff’s momentum was checked and his direction of travel marginally altered. Anywhere else on the pitch, a free kick would surely have been given. But Bramall signalled for a goal kick and, although VAR reviewed the challenge, it was not deemed a clear and obvious enough error to be overturned.

It did look like a foul, but it is difficult to complain about an injustice when Newcastle’s performance did not warrant a positive result.

Chris Waugh

How was Newcastle’s build-up stifled?

Crystal Palace have been improved under Oliver Glasner — and the manner in which they hurt Newcastle with their press was an impressive evolution from the staid and safe Roy Hodgson era. In the first half, Newcastle failed to produce a single shot — bar a debatable ricochet off some combination of Fabian Schar’s head and the Palace defence — with striker Alexander Isak having just 13 touches.

Eddie Howe opted to set Newcastle up in a 3-4-3 once more — a rare departure from 4-3-3, but one which follows its successful deployment against Tottenham Hotspur last time out. In theory, the system allows Newcastle more width in build-up — but with Jacob Murphy deeper, and correspondingly more involved in ball progression, Palace used the winger as a trigger.

(Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Murphy is more used to stretching defences than manipulating them, and could well be followed by Will Hughes back up to Tyneside, given his experience on Wednesday night. If Newcastle found space inside, Sean Longstaff was another Palace trigger.

Newcastle had some success by playing the ball through the lines to Anthony Gordon and Harvey Barnes — but by needing to drop deep to corral the ball, they presented relatively little threat going forward.

Jacob Whitehead

How was Wilson’s return?

Newcastle’s season of injuries has been summed up by their inability to keep Isak and Wilson fit simultaneously for a sustained period. The duo have had a succession of niggling injuries, last appearing in the same Premier League match on Boxing Day.

Recently, it has been Isak who has been available, and the Sweden international had been in scintillating form, scoring seven in his previous six top-flight appearances. But, having had only 13 touches during the first half, the fewest of any Newcastle player, and aside from one clear-cut opportunity when he was played through by Bruno Guimaraes’ lofted ball, only to be thwarted by Dean Henderson, Isak failed to add to his tally.

In a bid to unearth some sort of attacking impetus — Newcastle had only two shots before the hour mark, neither on target — Howe introduced Wilson in the 65th minute. To accommodate the England international, Isak shifted to the right, Gordon the left, with Wilson deployed through the middle.

But, after missing 10 matches due to a pectoral injury, Wilson was not presented with a single opportunity in front of goal. Newcastle’s first — and indeed one of only two — shot on target did not arrive until the 87th minute, and even that was a tame header from Elliot Anderson.

Having Wilson back is good news for Newcastle, though, and perhaps that is the sole positive from this limp defeat.

What did Howe say?

We will bring you this after he has spoken at the post-match press conference.

What next for Newcastle?

Saturday, April 27: Sheffield United (H), Premier League, 3pm BST, 10am ET

Can’t quite remember what happened when these two met in September’s reverse fixture…

Newcastle have won four of the two clubs’ five most recent encounters, all while keeping clean sheets.

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(Top photo: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)