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Newcastle United Can't Polish-Off Crystal Palace

Bollocks!! What a frustrating end to and otherwise exciting, gritty 90 minutes of soccer....

My pet, mid-table obsession, Newcastle United, have played pretty luke-warm ball to this point--a lot of earnest mid-field possession and some decent defense, but without a single goal (or really even a convincing chance) in two games. All of that changed today.

I tuned-in at about the 10' mark and the Magpies were already down, apparently having conceded a goal in the first 30 seconds of the game. Anyway, I could see the intensity in their eyes and in their relentless, almost frantic attacking play: they were not going down easily.

After a tense 30 or so minutes in which they seemed to control the game, Daryl Janmaat dumped in a little one-yarder that had been pinballing around in the box a bit. Not the prettiest goal, but Newcastle had tied the game heading into the half.

Crystal Palace looked determined coming out of half time and it was clear the tenor of the game had changed in their favor. They proved as much about three minutes into the half when Jason Puncheon, left a bit too open at the corner of the area, got the ball with his back to the goal, then did a quick turn-around kick (is that a thing?) and sent in one of the best goals I've seen, the ball just barely skipping past Tim Krul and into the onion bag: Newcastle 1, Palace 2.

The second half seemed to belong to Palace, but both sides had some convincing chances. But in the 80th minute or so, Allen Pardew turned to the bench and brought out "the kid," Rolando Aarons, who instantly changed the tenor of the game and headed in the equalizer off a Remy Cabella corner kick that had knocked against the cross-bar. Newcastle 2, Palace 2.

Just "a" Magpie or "The" Magpie? IDFK. 
The excitement and tension in St. James' Park was so thick I could feel it in my living room 5,000 miles away. Another goal was in the air, Newcastle just had to find a way to snatch it out of the air. And they did...off a perfect little chip by Aarons that knicked off the post and got knocked in by Mike Williamson.

At this point it was nearly the 90 minute mark, but the refs gave out an unthinkable seven minutes of stoppage time (WTF?? Most I've ever seen in a game). Again, something about the nature of this game, the scrappiness of both sides, the fact that you could see Palace's canine teeth protruding the entire match...made me squirm in my seat.

And wouldn't you know it....Palace banged in one last goal to preserve the point and steal-away Newcastle's first win of the season.

I can no longer accuse Newcastle of playing boring football, anyway. After two game scoring draught and a
sheen that seemed to wear off quickly after that first game against Man City...I'm back to being excited about Newcastle United. After today's match, I finally feel invested in this team. It's already pretty clear this is not even remotely close to being a top five team (and at this rate they'll be fortunate to avoid relegation); however, when they finally do win a game, it's going to feel like they've won the World Cup.

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