SO much for fearing the sack during the international break. When Steve Bruce celebrated this stunning comeback win - thanks to DeAndre Yedlin and Cia
SO much for fearing the sack during the international break.
When Steve Bruce celebrated this stunning comeback win – thanks to DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark wiping out Harry Wilson’s opener – his team were closer to the European places than the relegation zone.
This was the Newcastle team given no hope without Rafa Benitez this season, written off as relegation candidates.
Bruce says it is “sacking season” for managers when players head off to play for their countries in November but his lads are going off with a spring in their step – and the gaffer can relax safely in mid-table.
What will please the Toon boss most is how his players fought back.
They were played off the park for the first half an hour and had Jamal Lascelles injured after a nudge in the back sent him flying into team-mate Martin Dubravka.
It looked like a bleak afternoon as Eddie Howe’s men were over-running the hosts.
They were just disappointed they failed to add to their opener as they had plenty of chances.
Wilson’s goal confirmed them as set-piece masters with SEVEN goals from dead-balls this season.
It was a superb move that ripped Newcastle’s defence apart, a quick corner that saw Ryan Fraser and Josh King exchange quick passes.
Wales winger Wilson pulled off to the penalty spot and curled his effort just inside the post for his fourth of the season.
Howe’s lads could have racked up a big score. Diego Rico had an effort tipped onto the bar, Fraser hit straight at Dubravka in front of goal and the little Scot also had an effort cleared off the line after racing through.
But what Bruce has is raw pace down his left flank – in Jetro Willems and Allan Saint-Maximin he has players who will trouble any defence.
And these two summer signings led the fightback. Saint-Maximin stands out with his headband holding his dreadlocks together – but also with his direct running.
The French winger nicked the ball off Steve Cook and sent his finish thundering off the crossbar.
From the follow up, Willems forced a save from Aaron Ramsdale with a powerful drive.
It was no surprise that the equaliser came courtesy of Saint-Maximin setting up another attack.
This time he got the ball from Miguel Almiron and fizzed a ball across ball, catching everyone out apart from Yedlin, who smashed into the back of the net with a diving header.
In the second half, the winner came in the 52nd minute when Clark slotted home from close range.
The chance was set up by Federico Fernadez nodding the ball on after Willems had set up another chance.
As the game opened up Joelinton was sent through and forced an excellent save with a lob.
Fraser also had a penalty shout turned down, while at the other end Saint-Maximin was sent through again and had his finish saved.
In the final seconds King nodded wide from a corner right in front of goal, as Brucie’s battlers hung on.
At this point last season they had nine points, while this time around they have 15. A new manager, different players too but at last some optimism.