The Newcastle manager Chris Hughton paid tribute to striker Peter Lovenkrands after he snatched a vital point against West Bromwich just days after the death of his father.
The 29-year-old flew back to Tyneside from his native Denmark after spending time with his family in the days after his father lost his long battle against illness to play in last night's top-of-the-table Championship match.
Lovenkrands made his mark on the game with a 54th-minute equaliser which ultimately extended the Magpies' lead over second-placed Nottingham Forest to three points, while their advantage over the Baggies in third remained at six.
Hughton said: "His father was very proud of him and I think he felt his father would have liked him to play. It shows great qualities from him as an individual. It was a very difficult time. His father wasn't particularly old and it was a very difficult time for him."
Lovenkrands will now be given further compassionate leave as his team-mates prepare for Saturday's rematch with Albion at the Hawthorns in the FA Cup fourth round. But he will return to Scandinavia having played a major role in a result which could yet prove hugely significant as the promotion race gathers pace.
The scoreline hardly begins to tell the story of a game which produced four goals, seven bookings and a succession of penalty appeals which went unanswered. But ultimately, a point apiece was probably just about right, although Baggies substitute Ishmael Miller left Tyneside wondering just how he didn't win it eight minutes from time when he hit the post with the goal at his mercy.
Jonas Olsson got the visitors off to the perfect start when he guided the excellent Graham Dorrans' cross past Steve Harper, but Danny Guthrie's fine 25th-minute free-kick dragged Newcastle back into it. Roman Bednar restored the visitors' lead within 34 seconds of the restart, but Lovenkrands headed home Jose Enrique's cross with 54 minutes gone to level, and despite substitute Andy Carroll's appeals for a penalty in injury time, there was no splitting the sides.
Baggies manager Roberto di Matteo headed back to the Midlands feeling two precious points had slipped away as the team with the division's best away record lived up to their billing against the club boasting the most impressive home form.
He said: "I think we deserved to win. Newcastle went very close to losing their first game at home tonight."
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Harper; Simpson (R Taylor, 85), S Taylor, Coloccini, Jose Enrique; Guthrie, Smith, Nolan, Gutierrez; Lovenkrands, Ameobi (Carroll, 78). Substitutes not used: Krul (gk), Pancrate, Butt, Kadar, Ranger.
West Bromwich Albion (4-4-2): Carson; Jara, Tamas, Olsson, Cech; Dorrans, Koren, Mulumbu, Brunt; Thomas, Bednar (Miller, 63). Substitutes not used: Kiely (gk), Mattock, Moore, Teixeira, Zuiverloon, Cox.
Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).Reuse content