Miguel Almiron

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Almiron’s injury short-circuits impressive Premier League start

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Only the most myopic of MLS fans expected Miguel Almiron to head from Atlanta United to the Premier League and create with the same sort of prolificacy he did for the Five Stripes.

[ MORE: Fastest goal in PL history ]

But despite his lack of goals and assists for Newcastle United, there is no doubt that Almiron has been a game-changer for a club which could defend with anyone but lacked the electricity to attack Premier League defenses.

“He was massive for us from day one,” Benitez said. “He was giving everybody a lift with his pace, work rate, and his assists.”

Almiron, 25, scored 22 goals and added 21 assists in two seasons with Atlanta, but had yet to find the back of the goal or score a direct assist in 763 minutes with the Magpies when he suffered a presumed season-ending hamstring injury over the weekend.

But he’s also been the proverbial straw that stirs the drink for Newcastle, who has 41 points on the season.

Their record before Almiron? 6W-6D-13L

Since? 5W-2D-3L

Like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Brendan Rodgers‘ tenures as managers of their new Premier League clubs, we should be careful to measure those numbers against weaker schedules, but throwing in Atlanta’s massive struggles post-Almiron makes for an easy if over-simplified line to draw.

Benitez verbalized what we’ve all seen: Newcastle’s best attacker prior to Almiron’s arrival was Salomon Rondon and the big Venezuelan has been more productive, and Ayoze Perez has been freed up to do what he does best as a creator.

“We signed Almiron, then Rondon was playing better, and Ayoze was playing better. Why? Because Almiron can run in behind, provide assists, and then Rondon has more time. Ayoze is the same, too.”

How will Newcastle fare without him, presumably the rest of the way? Fortunately, it’s doesn’t matter too much. Brighton, Liverpool, and Wolves will be pleased to face the Magpies without Almiron, and Benitez may go into a shell against two of the three.

Perez brings Newcastle three points closer to safety (video)

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  • Perez scored his seventh Premier League goal of the season
  • Almiron played 78 minutes before being substituted
  • Vardy fails to score after three goals in two games
  • Newcastle up to 13th place on 38 points

Ayoze Perez scored a first half header and Newcastle’s stayed resolute against late Leicester City pressure to secure three crucial points on the road. Newcastle defeated Leicester City, 1-0, at the King Power Stadium on Friday evening, with James Maddison nullified at one end and Perez scoring the winner at the other.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

January signing Miguel Almiron was like the energizer bunny, constantly making lung-bursting dribbles forward down the wing or through the heart of the defense to help push the ball out of Newcastle’s half of the field, though he failed to score again.

With the win, Newcastle moves up to 13th place with 38 points, and may have just secured safety in the Premier League for another season. Newcastle now sits ten points above Cardiff, which is in the final place in the drop zone to head back down to relegation. For Leicester, it remains in seventh place, but it has played two more games than eighth-place Wolves. Both clubs are on 47 points in the table.

Leicester City seemed to set out to pass their way through the Newcastle defense, with Rafa Benitez‘s side sitting in a low block and inviting pressure to allow Perez and Almiron to race forward and create counter attacking chances. Newcastle came closest to scoring in the 15th minute, when Solomon Rondon absolutely smashed a curling free kick off the crossbar, before it was headed away to safety by Leicester City.

The Magpies did get on the board finally thanks to some strong dribbling work at first from Almiron. The Paraguayan tried to dribble through two Leicester City defenders before Ricardo Pereira stepped in and knocked the ball away. It fell though right to Matt Ritchie and in the 32nd minute, Ritchie’s near-post cross was flicked past Leicester City’s Kasper Schmeichel and in for a goal.

Leicester City took the game to Newcastle in the second half, but just couldn’t find its way past the Newcastle backline. Leicester City’s best chance of the match came in the 78th minute. Star forward Jamie Vardy, who had three goals in his last two games, was played through into the box and was one-on-one with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. However, Vardy’s looping strike went over the bar, the latest of many occasions in which Brendan Rodgers‘ side failed to execute properly in front of goal.

Thrilling comeback pushes Newcastle past Everton (video)

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  • Calvert-Lewin with goal, assist
  • Ritchie sees penalty saved
  • Rondon, Perez bring Magpies back
  • Rondon offside on Perez winner

Ayoze Perez had a goal and an assist as Newcastle United came from two down to beat Everton 3-2 at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

It was a day to forget for referee Lee Mason and crew, who did not send off Jordan Pickford for an early foul in the box but then missed an offside Rondon on Newcastle’s winner.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison scored for Everton, who now sits 11th and is just three points ahead of the Magpies.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Some choice opportunities for Ayoze Perez and the Magpies nevertheless relented to a beautiful bit of teamwork from Everton, as Bernardo and Lucas Digne combined to set up Calvert-Lewin’s well-turned header for a 1-0 lead.

Newcastle seemed set to restore the deadlock when ex-Sunderland keeper Pickford’s second error of the night allowed Matt Ritchie a chance from the spot, but the English backstop made a terrific denial.

More critically, Pickford was not sent off for football tackling Salomon Rondon on the foul in question.

Then Everton made it 2-0 when Richarlison was on the scene to punch an Andre Gomes-inspired rebound into the frame.

Pickford then made a terrific stop on Perez as the match approached halftime.

Rondon flicked off a charging Pickford in the 57th, but the goalkeeper was bailed out when the ball bounded wide of the far post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The second half brought entertainment, with Bernard very lively for Everton.

The Magpies were the ones to hit the score sheet, Rondon and Perez working a 1v2 of sorts before the Venezuelan hammered a left-footed strike past the reach of Pickford.

Ritchie then sent a pinpoint cross that Paul Dummett flicked over the frame with Rondon and Perez waiting behind him. Fine margins.

Then Pickford couldn’t handle Miguel Almiron’s vicious rip from 30 yards, and Perez poked in the rebound to make it 2-2.

Pickford then made a very good save on Paul Dummett from a corner kick situation, but he could do nothing when a flick into the box saw Rondon set up Perez for a deserved third goal.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Benitez praises Almiron after first Newcastle start

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Rafa Benitez has wanted Miguel Almiron at Newcastle United for a long time, and was effusive with praise for the Paraguayan after a game-changing display in his first Premier League start.

[ RECAP: Newcastle 2-0 Huddersfield ]

Well, let’s clarify: Rafa was effusive with praise considering his reserved standard of praising.

The pesky and electric Almiron drew attention all day in Newcastle’s 2-0 defeat of 10-man Huddersfield Town, who was down a man thanks to an Almiron-drawn foul.

Yeah, he was good. Here’s Benitez on Almiron, from two separate interviews:

“He did what we expected of him. He linked well with the other forwards. It was a great day for him and the fans.

“His contribution in terms of work rate was really good. He will be pleased with his performance and the fans will be too. He will give us a different characteristics and different options.”

Almiron was exceptional, all over the attacking half and a handful throughout the contest. Up next is another hard-fouling side in Burnley, and the Paraguayan will again be key to earning space for his teammates (and himself).

Almiron sizzles for Newcastle (video)

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  • Smith sent off, 10th minute
  • Rondon with goal, assist
  • Almiron makes first Premier League start
  • Newcastle four points clear of 18th

Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez scored as Newcastle United collected a cool three points with a 2-0 defeat of 10-man Huddersfield Town at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

Newcastle and MLS record transfer Miguel Almiron was fantastic in his first Premier League start, doing everything but score including drawing a 20th minute red card from Tommy Smith.

Newcastle moves onto 28 points, four clear of the drop zone, while the visiting Terriers remain 14 points back of safety with 11 matches to play in their PL season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The team’s traded early chances, but Miguel Almiron nearly made himself an instant Newcastle hero when sprung 1v1 with Jonas Lossl. But his chip hit the post and Salomon Rondon’s rebound hit the same piece of iron.

Another Newcastle break led to a Fabian Schar shot directly to Lossl, who minutes later got a piece of Rondon’s in-tight effort on goal.

With Town under pressure, Tommy Smith saw straight red for a foul on Almiron.

The ex-Atlanta United man would get the next chance, with Lossl stopped his near-post effort.

Lossl then lost an Almiron shot between his legs and Chris Lowe cleared the effort.

Yedlin cued up Perez for another shot that Lossl tipped out for a corner, and Rondon’s diving attempt to head a as Huddersfield was happy to get to halftime down just a man and not a goal or three.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Isaac Hayden‘s mistouch turned into a fine assist, as Rondon lashed past Lossl within 90 seconds of the match’s restart.

The Magpies doubled its advantage and started working on their goal differential when Perez completed a move started by an Almiron cross and moved ahead by Yedlin and Rondon.

Almiron almost cued Perez up for 3-0, but the Spaniard spun his shot just wide of the near post. Almiron was then stopped by Lossl before Longstaff hit the cross bar.

The Paraguayan import got wild applause when he was replaced by Christian Atsu with under 10 minutes to play.