It may have taken him almost 11 months to get it, but Miguel Almiron made his first Premier League goal count.
Not only was Almiron’s powerful half-volley in the 83rd minute of a scoreless match between his Newcastle United and Crystal Palace on Saturday a thing of beauty, it also stood up as the game-winner to give the Magpies three crucial points that vaulted them into the top half of the table over both Palace and reeling Arsenal:
The 25-year-old Paraguayan international midfielder hadn’t scored since moving from 2018 MLS Cup champion Atlanta United in late January for a Newcastle record $27 million (£20 million) transfer fee. He immediately walked into then-manager Rafa Benitez’s starting 11, but failed to register a goal or an assist in his first half-season in the Prem.
Almiron’s struggle to get on the scoresheet continued this term under new boss Steve Bruce. But there were signs that a breakthrough was coming even as the pressure began to mount in the British press as well as with fans on Tyneside over his lack of end-product. Almiron’s first assist arrived three games ago in a 2-2 draw with defending champion Manchester City. He sat out last week’s loss to Burnley with a hamstring injury, but was back in Bruce’s lineup for Saturday’s contest at St. James’ Park.
Along the way, Almiron has insisted that the goal drought wasn’t consuming him. But based on his reaction after finally breaking his duck on Saturday, it clearly lifted a weight off of the wiry attacker’s shoulders.