Luka Milivojevic went from zero to hero for Crystal Palace as his second half penalty earned a precious point against Newcastle, having been at fault for the Magpies’ opener.
The Serbian midfielder completely missed Matt Ritchie’s first half corner allowing Mo Diame to prod home at the back post, but he made up for it with a second half penalty that Karl Darlow was very unfortunate not to keep out.
It was the sort of afternoon that makes you think Roy Hodgson should start doing his half-time team talks before the game, such was his side's improvement after the break when they laid siege to the Newcastle goal.
Much of that came down to switching Wilfried Zaha out wide instead of down the middle, and as soon as the Ivorian moved wide the cascade of chances began.
But it was Newcastle, chasing only their third win in 17 league games, who started brightest in an exasperating opening half for the home side.
Magpies alumni Andros Townsend and Yohan Cabaye both earned boos from the travelling fans and did nothing to answer them in the opening period; Townsend blocking his own team-mate Christian Benteke on the edge of the box as the Belgian lined up a shot, while the Frenchman earned ironic cheers for a horrible effort on goal that flew high and wide.
Benteke, having another afternoon to forget in front of goal, then tamely prodded a decent chance right at Darlow just before the break, and couldn't react quick enough as the Magpies keeper palmed a shot back towards him. It was another frustrating day for a £30m striker still searching for his first home goal of the season.
The opening goal owed more to some uncharacteristically poor defending from Palace as Milivojevic fresh-air sliced Richie’s corner allowing Diame, who had lost James Tomkins, to prod home.
Wayne Hennessey produced two fine saves to stop the Magpies doubling their lead just before the break while Zaha should have levelled things eight minutes later but cannoned his shot in the box into DeAndre Yedlin although referee Andre Marriner wrongly pointed for a goal-kick thinking it had come off Benteke. If it had, it would have summed up Palace’s first half.
But just like they have been many times this season, especially at Selhurst, the Eagles were more spirited after the break and got back on level terms when Ciaran Clark grabbed Benteke’s shirt in the box and Milivojevic made up for his earlier error for Newcastle’s goal by converting.
And they weren’t done there, pressing for a winner and dominating the second half. Benteke headed over before Cabaye blazed high and wide when letting it run for Zaha might have been the the better option, while Darlow did well to save low at the feet of McArthur having dropped Cabaye’s cross.
The Scot, much more effective in the middle having started the game wide left, then sent a shot inches over before Clark somehow denied Benteke twice on the line while Jonjo Shelvey was lucky not to give away an injury-time penalty for a shirt pull on McArthur that was identical to Clark's on Benteke earlier.
In the end a point isn’t quite what either side would have wanted but on a weekend where relegation rivals Brighton, Bournemouth and Southampton all won, it was almost more important not to lose.
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