Newcastle United fought bravely to hold fellow relegation rivals Norwich City to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday, despite being reduced to ten men at St. James’ Park.
A resilient Newcastle United side showed great character and spirit after being down to ten men for most of the game and were rewarded with a point as Callum Wilson’s penalty was cancelled out by a crafted strike by Teemu Pukki late in the second half to finish the scrappy relegation dogfight all square.
Tension could be felt in the air when the game kicked off at St. James’ Park, with both sides looking nervous. Newcastle’s early excitement quickly turned to horror when Ciaran Clark’s lambasted clearance against Pukki was amplified as he hauled down the striker as he ran clear on goal. A straight red was shown and Newcastle were down to ten men inside ten minutes.
Newcastle frustrated their visitors for the rest of the first half, restricting their chance creation while posing a threat on the counter-attack. Soon after the interval, the hosts had a penalty call denied. However, Eddie Howe’s men did not have to wait long for a penalty opportunity when Billy Gilmour was penalised for a floundering arm that blocked Federico Fernandez’s goal-bound header in the box.
With just over ten minutes remaining, it looked like Newcastle would finally get their first win of the season after weathering Norwich’s storm, but Pukki popped up to unleash a perfect volley into the top corner to level the scoreline. Pierre Lees-Melou had a late chance to win it for the Canaries, but the Magpies’ goalkeeper Martin Dubravka turned saviour.
Only four sides have failed to win any of their first 14 games of a Premier League season:
◎ Swindon (1993/94)
◎ QPR (2012/13)
◎ Sheffield United (2020/21)
◉ Newcastle United (2021/22)
The previous three were all relegated. 👀 pic.twitter.com/Ke3ZpUwfdA
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 30, 2021
Newcastle desperately needed three points to lift themselves from the bottom of the table. It could all have been so very different had Ciaran Clark not self-destructed by making that abysmal mistake. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Eddie Howe’s men after Tuesday evening’s eventful affair in the Northeast.
Martin Dubravka: 6.5/10
Dubravka had precious little to do in the first half; his teammates’ enduring resilience ensured he was hardly worked. Made a good save to push away Gilmour’s free-kick but should have done a better job of keeping hold of the Scotsman’s cross in the build-up to Pukki’s goal. He redeemed himself with a spectacular save with his stretched leg to deny Pierre Lees-Melou in a 1v1 situation in stoppage time.
Javier Manquillo: 6.5/10
Manquillo was solid on his first start under Eddie Howe and offered his recovery pace. Some good link-up with Joelinton to hold the ball for Newcastle. He had to shift across after Clark’s red card and handled Brandon Williams well enough.
Fabian Schar: 7/10
After being let down by his original centre-back partner, Schar was pretty solid. He was calm and composed while stepping out of the backline to drive the ball forwards. His lapse in concentration allowed Pierre Lees-Melou to seize possession but fortunately for the Swiss defender Dubravka bailed him out of the situation with a brilliant save.
Ciaran Clark: 1/10
Really cynical error from a defender of Clark’s experience. Pukki charged down his lazy clearance. He made a horrible judgement in hauling Pukki down with just 10 minutes on the clock because Jamal Lewis was getting across easily while one would back Dubravka in 1v1 against Pukki. He let his teammates down in a crucial six-pointer.
Jamal Lewis: 7/10
Given his first start of the season against his former club, the ex-Norwich defender impressed with an energetic display on the left flank and kept Max Aarons at bay for large parts of the game.
Ryan Fraser: N/A
Fraser did not have much of a chance to impact the game, and barely got three touches on the ball before being sacrificed to bring Federico Fernandez in the 12th minute as Newcastle went down to ten men.
Jonjo Shelvey: 7/10
Another impressive performance from the experienced Jonjo Shelvey. He passed the ball well under pressure and dug deep in the middle of the park to keep Norwich at bay. He kept his composure and discipline while looking to lay the ball into the channels. Despite being down to ten men, Newcastle won the midfield battle.
Joe Willock: 6/10
Despite the one-man disadvantage, the Willock was still capable of making good progress with the ball. He pressed and closed down the Norwich midfielders well. He was very quiet in the second half and was subbed off with shattered legs.
Allan Saint-Maximin: 7/10
Another player hindered by the red card. When Newcastle were reduced to ten men, Saint-Maximin was forced to change positions and go up the front, and he did his best to get Newcastle up the pitch with his trademark bustling dribbles.
He was a decent threat in and around the Norwich box until his withdrawal in the second half after he ran out of steam. He would be disappointed not to have fired a single shot on target but completed 3 key passes and 3 dribbles.
Callum Wilson: 8/10
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 30, 2021
The stand-in skipper led the line by example, and his work rate and defending allowed Saint-Maximin to attack. Wilson struggled to get involved in the final third after the red card. He blazed one over the bar from Lewis’s cut-back. It was not a classic Wilson penalty as Krul got a strong hand to it but was effective enough as he ended his four-game goal drought.
Joelinton worked his socks off defensively and covered a lot of ground, helping out Manquillo on the right flank. Put in a gruelling shift for his side and was powerful at holding onto the ball. He could prove to be a huge asset for Eddie Howe if they are to get out of this relegation mess. He made a 2 tackles and 2 interceptions.
Federico Fernandez: 7/10
Introduced immediately after Clark’s red card in the 10th minute to provide the defensive cover. He forced the penalty with his header, did not disappoint with his robustness, and the no-nonsense approach worked to Newcastle’s benefit. A proper defender with decent quality on the ball and experience, the Argentine was a leader at the back, which begs the question as to why he was not chosen ahead of Clark.
Isaac Hayden: 5/10
After nearly scoring with his first touch, Isaac Hayden produced a poor display with his passive defending, doing Newcastle no favours. He should have been closing down Pukki for the equaliser while some of his forward balls were atrocious and directly handed the possession to Norwich.
Miguel Almiron: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.