The ball had been touched twice by Newcastle players, deep in their own half, before a pass inside from DeAndre Yedlin found Sean Longstaff, just outside his own penalty area. From there came three first time passes, first by Longstaff, then Salomon Rondon and finally Isaac Hayden, whose own effort was incisive and cut through the heart of the Huddersfield defence.
There was a clever touch from Miguel Almiron, and in the blink of an eye, the club’s new record transfer was charging towards the Gallowgate End, with just Jonas Lossl to beat. The roar had grown with the sweeping move and with St James’ Park on its feet, Almiron, this frail looking, left-footed ball of energy and speed went for an audacious chip that cleared the Huddersfield goalkeeper. The ball took a bounce and then, to the agony of crowd and player, clipped the upright. On the rebound, Rondon, following the move, went for power rather than precision, and he too saw his effort crash off the same post.
It was only the 12th minute but Newcastle, in game 27 of the season, had shown their supporters a new gear, new desire and intelligence. Victory felt inevitable then, against the worst team in the Premier League. That was confirmed in the 20th minute when the
Huddersfield captain Tommy Smith committed an awful lunge that left stud marks showing on the side of the sock of Almiron’s left leg.
Kevin Friend did not need the immediate protestations of around five furious Newcastle players to go for red. The card had come out immediately and Smith, despite pleading innocence, was gone, and so were those slim hopes of the visitors.
Almiron was denied by the overworked Lossl in the 25th minute, let an effort from the same player slip through his legs five minutes later, saved then by Chris Lowe and then excelled to tip over a rising drive from Perez.
Rondon would spurn a great chance, a diving header at the far post, in first half injury-time, from a Longstaff cross, but goals were on their way, and within a minute of the restart, Newcastle were ahead.
A long, crossfield ball from Florian Lejuene found Yedlin deep on the Huddersfield left, he played the ball inside, there was a touch from Perez, then Hayden and Rondon fired a right footed shot past Lossl.
Another would follow. Lejuene this time chipped a through ball to Almiron, on the Newcastle left, the £20 million signing volleyed with his left foot to Yedlin. The American played the ball back into the middle and Rondon helped it into the path of Perez, who shot first time past Lossl.
There was no hope of a reply from Huddersfield, who are tiptoeing embarrassed out of the Premier League. Instead, a third looked likely. Lejuene shot over on the turn from close range and then the substitute Kenedy cracked a left footed volley off the visitors’ crossbar.
Almiron cleverly played Perez in, who shot narrowly wide and then Longstaff bent a 25-yarder that also crashed off Lossl’s crossbar. Newcastle coasted to victory. They had done that on only one of the previous 26 league games this season, a three-nil win against Cardiff.
Almiron was withdrawn with six minutes remaining. He received a standing ovation. It was a fine debut. Newcastle, as a club, felt at its most optimistic for some time. By full-time there were 14th. Heady days.
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