Football: Inspired Palace pour more misery on Newcastle

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Newcastle United 1 Crystal Palace 2

WHATEVER it was that Attilio Lombardo told his players this time, they obviously comprehended. If the message was "we can still avoid relegation" then Crystal Palace, seemingly doomed, clearly believed their new Italian player-manager, whose appointment last Friday had appeared the stuff of farce.

Lombardo himself scored the first goal, one that put Palace on the way to ending a record-breaking sequence of eight Premiership defeats with their first League success since 24 November. In so doing, they dragged their hosts into the mire at the bottom.

Selecting himself on his favoured right flank instead of in the centre of midfield, where Steve Coppell had perversely insisted on playing him, Lombardo took only 13 minutes to put Palace ahead. By that time his team are usually at least a goal down.

The player-coach stabbed in a close-range shot after Matt Jansen's cross from the right by-line had been chested down by Marcus Bent. Jansen, a Newcastle fan, who was a revelation, added the second nine minutes later from a tight angle, after Shay Given could only claw aside a low drive from Tomas Brolin following a half-cleared Simon Rodger corner.

By now it was evident that Newcastle's problems were not confined to the boardroom. All their best efforts came from Alan Shearer, with the exception of David Batty's volley which brought a spectacular flying save from Kevin Miller.

Whenever Miller was not repelling the best efforts from Shearer, Marc Edworthy was doing his bit to stem the irresistible tide of home attacks.

Edworthy excelled as Palace defended in depth to a deafening chorus from Newcastle's supporters, who changed their tune later with chants of "sack the board" from outside the main entrance.

"They have a right to air their views," said Kenny Dalglish, the Newcastle manager, who refused to become involved in the debate involving the club's directors.

"We lost the game because we were not good enough," he added. "It's as simple as that."

For all that, Newcastle came desperately close to saving it. Shearer blasted in a 77th-minute free-kick for his first Premiership goal of the season and, when he tried again from almost the same spot in the last minute, only the legs of Miller secured Palace's unlikely victory.

Newcastle United (3-4-3): Given; Dabizas, Howey (Peacock, 33), Pistone; Barton, Batty, Ketsbaia (Tomasson, 72), Speed; Gillespie, Shearer, Andersson (Barnes, 51). Substitutes not used: Peacock, Griffin, Hislop (gk).

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Miller; Smith, Edworthy, Ismael, Gordon; Lombardo (Hreidarsson, 72), Brolin, Fullarton, Rodger (Billio, 66); Jansen, Bent (Padovano, 65). Substitutes not used: Linighan, Nash (gk).

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).