JOSELU clambered off the substitutes’ bench to earn Newcastle United a point in a 1-1 draw with Swansea City.

The Spanish striker swept home Ayoze Perez’s deflected cross just four minutes after replacing Dwight Gayle as the Magpies came from behind to remain three points clear of the relegation zone.

Rafael Benitez’s side wasted a host of good first-half chances, and were punished when Jordan Ayew headed in at the second time of asking on the hour mark.

Loading article content

The Swans might also have had a first-half penalty when Mo Diame appeared the handle the ball in his own box, but a draw was probably a fair result given Newcastle’s dominance in the early stages.

The result leaves the Magpies in 15th position ahead of next weekend’s trip to league leaders Manchester City, with Swansea still rooted to the foot of the table.

Benitez made four changes to the side that beat Luton Town in the FA Cup third round, with Perez and Gayle starting alongside each other in attack.

The pair combined effectively in the opening half-hour, but Newcastle were unable to take any of the chances that came their way.

Gayle wasted the first opening, heading Paul Dummett’s cross straight at Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski, and was culpable again eight minutes later.

This time it was Perez delivering an inviting cross after a surging run down the left, but while Gayle was ideally placed eight yards out, he headed wide of the target.

Swansea striker Oliver McBurnie hooked Martin Olsson’s cross over the bar, but Newcastle were the dominant force throughout the opening 30 minutes and the hosts quickly carved out another couple of chances.

Gayle teed up Perez in the area, only for the Spaniard to shoot straight at Fabianski, before Paul Dummett drilled a first-time shot over the bar after Christian Atsu crossed from the left.

Newcastle’s best first-half opening came in the 26th minute, and saw Matt Ritchie release Perez into the area. Perez had time to pick his spot, but his shot was directed too close to Fabianski, and the former Arsenal goalkeeper was able to make a decent save.

Swansea had barely threatened at that stage, but the visitors felt justifiably aggrieved that they were not awarded a penalty ten minutes before the break.

Kyle Bartley nodded on Tom Carroll’s corner, and after Mike van der Hoorn prodded the ball goalwards, Diame kept the ball out with the use of his arm. Given that Diame raised his arm towards the ball, a penalty should have been given. And given that the ball was heading in, the Newcastle midfielder was fortunate not to have been sent off for his indiscretion.

Newcastle had the ball in the net moments later - Gayle’s close-range header was rightly ruled out for offside – but the hosts’ first-half dominance went unrewarded.

They remained in the ascendant at the start of the second half, but once again lacked a clinical cutting edge. Perez released Gayle into the area within four minutes of the interval, but the striker dragged a low first-time effort wide of the target.

It increasingly felt as though the misses could prove costly, and sure enough, Newcastle found themselves behind on the hour mark.

Van der Hoorn crossed from the right-hand side, and while Karl Darlow produced an excellent save to keep out Ayew’s initial header, he was powerless to prevent the striker from nodding in the rebound.

Benitez responded immediately, replacing the ineffectual Gayle with Joselu, and the ploy worked superbly. Joselu had been on the field just four minutes when he fired Newcastle level.

Perez’s deflected cross fell fortuitously into Joselu’s path, but the Spaniard still had plenty to do as he found himself with his back to goal. He turned neatly though, and swept an excellent low finish into the far corner.

The closing stages saw both sides pushing for a winner, although it was Swansea who were the more dangerous, with the introduction of Wilfried Bony ensuring the visitors carried a considerable aerial threat.

Bony caused problems in the air, and came closest to claiming a winner for either side in stoppage time. Darlow left his line to deal with a Swansea break, but only succeeded in presenting the ball to Bony 25 yards out. The substitute fired a shot on target, but DeAndre Yedlin was able to clear from a position on the goalline.

Newcastle (4-4-2): Darlow; Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey (Merino 82), Diame, Atsu; Perez, Gayle (Joselu 64).

Subs (not used): Elliot (gk), Haidara, Manquillo, Hayden, Murphy.

Swansea (4-4-2):  Fabianski; van der Hoorn (Roberts 64), Bartley, Mawson, Olsson; Dyer (Narsingh 85), Ki, Clucas, Carroll; Ayew, McBurnie (Bony 70).

Subs (not used): Nordfeldt (gk), Fernandez, Mesa, Fer.