Newcastle United earned their long-awaited first Premier League win, beating Burnley 1-0 at St James’ Park on Saturday, courtesy of a Callum Wilson strike.
Newcastle United started the game in a shaky manner and were all over the place, misplacing passes, moving the ball too slowly and permitting Burnley to push them deeper. They were tense and anxious and lucky to get away with one when Johann Gudmundsson struck the post from distance. Neither side had put the goalkeepers to the test in the first half. The visitors arguably had the better chances and were on top.
It took a goalkeeping error in the final few minutes of the opening period to break the deadlock when Nick Pope crucially fumbled an innocuous lofted cross from the left. As the ball evaded the scrambling Burnley keeper, Wilson swivelled sharply, created an angle for himself, and rifled clinically into the roof of the net, eluding the defender on the line.
The home side were better in the second period and constantly pressurised the visitors. Pope denied Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron to keep the deficit at just a single goal. The Magpies, though, survived a late scare when Burnley substitute Jay Rodriguez put the ball in the net, but the effort was ruled out for offside. A slender lead made it a nail-biting contest towards the end, but Newcastle held on to grab all three points.
The final whistle was met with a collective sigh of relief at St James’ Park. The result lifts Newcastle off the bottom of the Premier League. While they are only ahead of Norwich on goal difference, Callum Wilson’s winning goal, along with a rare clean sheet, will give the Magpies newfound optimism. The Hard Tackle will now run the rule over Eddie Howe’s men after a nerve-wracking affair on Saturday afternoon.
Martin Dubravka: 7/10
Dubravka had little to do between the sticks as he only faced one shot on target the whole game. Nevertheless, his brilliant fingertip-save deflected Gudmundsson’s shot onto the post. The Slovakian commanded his box well against a physical Burnley side. He came out early to prevent any dangers, while his distribution was very decent on the day.
Javier Manquillo: 6.5/10
It is no coincidence that his return to the team has coincided with improved form and fewer leaked goals. He held his own in the absence of a clear threat.
Fabian Schar: 7/10
A strong, battling performance from the Swiss international. Made a good block to deny Josh Brownhill. He positioned himself well while his forward surges and ability on the ball were on display on the day. He put viable pressure on Pope and ended up with an assist.
Jamaal Lascelles: 7/10
Had a couple of shaky moments at the start of the first half on his return from a suspension that almost got Newcastle into trouble, and he seemed to be struggling to handle Maxwel Cornet. He had a battle on his hands against Burnley’s physical forwards. But he grew as the game went on and was a colossus in an aerial battle against Chris Wood.
Overall, the captain stepped up with a big performance and played a pivotal role in preserving Newcastle’s first clean sheet of the season with some crucial clearances in the second half. He finished the game with a match-high six clearances.
Jamal Lewis: 6.5/10
Lewis’ good work came while he was surging forward to provide an outlet. While Gudmundsson was getting past him quite easily in the first half, the former Norwich left-back made sure that did not happen in the second period. He also made some timely interventions defensively and ended the game with a team-high 4 tackles.
Miguel Almiron: 7/10
Almiron buzzed around throughout his time on the pitch and had more shots (6) than anybody else on the field, and came close to scoring the game-sealing second goal with a long-range effort that blazed over. Defensively, he was astute and helped out Manquillo big time. The Paraguayan threw himself into tackles and pressed like a maniac, reflected by his 3 tackles. He was probably a bit rusty and lacked his usual match-sharpness, starting his first game under Eddie Howe.
Joe Willock: 6.5/10
Joe Willock has faced criticism in recent weeks for his lack of output. But the 21-year-old is covering the hard yards to enable Shelvey and Saint-Maximin to play their natural game. His forward drive and determination to carry the ball were immense on the day. He laid 3 key passes which is always a bonus for a hard-working all-action midfielder.
Jonjo Shelvey: 7/10
Shelvey put in another solid performance in the middle of the park, but he did not stand out as he did against Brentford. His forward passing is critical to infuse pace to the Magpies’ attacks. While he dictated the play and won the midfield battle, he should start taking quality long-range drives more regularly, considering his ability on the ball. He laid three key passes and completed a match-high 7 accurate long balls.
Allan Saint-Maximin: 6.5/10
He was not offered much time on the ball with Burnley defenders man-handling him and was dispossessed a fair few times. There were some flashes of brilliance from the Frenchman, but his decision-making let him down. Had a shot saved by Nick Pope early in the second half while he was a constant menace, dribbling and gliding past the opposition defenders.
The Brazilian put in another good shift on the day. Joelinton really puts his heart and soul into grafting for the team. Although not everything went his way at the start, he grew into the game and won a handful of aerial battles while his hold up play and ability to link the defence and attack with his drives were vital for Newcastle. He completed a match-high 3 dribbles while defensively he made 2 tackles, 1 interception and 3 clearances.
Callum Wilson: 8/10
Callum Wilson has scored at least 10 more Premier League goals than any other Newcastle player since he made his debut for the club:
◉ Callum Wilson (18)
◎ Joe Willock (8)
◎ Allan Saint-Maximin (6)
What a signing he’s turned out to be. 😍 pic.twitter.com/skuYXCJKK8
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 4, 2021
Wilson was feeding off the scraps in the first half and made the most of the slightest of the chances. As most great strikers do, he was the first to react to a loose ball before hammering a well-placed drive over Chris Wood, who was stationed on the goal line. He constantly worked the channels, which caused chaos among Burnley backline. It was a match-winning performance from Newcastle’s talismanic striker, who takes his goal tally to six for the season.
Federico Fernandez: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Jacob Murphy: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.