NEWCASTLE’S run of five successive home victories came crashing to an end as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace.

Luka Milivojevic’s second-half penalty settled things – what were the key debating points from the game at St James’ Park?


It would still be a major surprise if Newcastle United were to be relegated this season – but with five games to play, the Magpies cannot take their survival for granted just yet.

Cardiff City are seven points behind Newcastle – the gap is effectively eight once the two clubs’ goal difference is taken into account – but Neil Warnock’s side now have a game in hand. Southampton, sitting in 17th position, also have a game in hand on the Magpies, while 16th-placed Brighton have played two fewer matches.

Cardiff travel to Burnley on Saturday for a match that looks absolutely crucial to their survival prospects. Lose that, and it is hard to see how they can survive. Win though, and with games against Brighton, Fulham and Crystal Palace still to come, the Bluebirds could ensure Newcastle suffer a nervy end to the season if they are unable to win at Leicester on Friday night.


He might have come on for the final 14 minutes, but there have to be major question marks over Jonjo Shelvey’s future given how peripheral he has become to Rafael Benitez’s plans.

With Mo Diame failing a pre-match fitness test, Shelvey would have hoped to make his first Premier League start since early November. Instead, Ki Sung-yueng got the nod and Shelvey was left frustrated once again.

West Ham United continue to have a strong interest in the former England international, and while Benitez was reluctant to sell him in January, the response would surely be different if the Hammers were to rekindle their interest in the summer. Shelvey’s Newcastle career looks to be nearing its end.


There were two significant offside calls in Saturday’s game – and both were correct. The first saw a Newcastle effort chalked off, with Salomon Rondon having strayed into an offside position before he stabbed home from close range.

Palace also had a ‘goal’ ruled out, with James Tomkins’ strike from a corner being chalked off because James McArthur was standing in Martin Dubravka’s line of sight. It took a long time for the assistant to raise his flag, but it was the right decision with McArthur having flicked out his leg to try to touch the ball.

To complete a good day for the officials, Stuart Attwell also got his late penalty call spot on, with DeAndre Yedlin clearly making contact with Wilfried Zaha’s legs.


Andros Townsend was a popular figure during his brief spell at Newcastle, but the winger left under something of a cloud in the wake of relegation and was loudly booed on his return to St James’ Park when he was substituted with six minutes left.

“It was pantomime stuff, I didn’t mind that,” said Townsend, who was well shackled for most of the afternoon. “They know I did a good job when I was here so really it doesn’t matter.

“I’ll always be grateful to them for the support they gave me. Anyway, that shows I must have done a good job when I was here. It’s a fantastic club with fantastic supporters. Great players, great pitch, great stadium, and it’s always nice to come back.”


Matt Ritchie’s successful spot-kick against Manchester City is the only penalty Newcastle have scored this season. Luka Milivojevic, however, has now claimed ten penalty successes by himself.

The Palace skipper is a spot-kick specialist, and now needs just one more penalty goal to equal the Premier League record of 11 in a season that was set by another Crystal Palace player, Andy Johnson, in the 2004-05 campaign.

“It’s not really in my power whether I get the record, but when we get a penalty, it’s my job to score,” said Milivojevic. “This season, we’ve had many, many penalties.

“It’s not by accident, it happens because we have a lot of quality players who get into the box. We’re very dangerous in these situations, and that’s why we have a lot of penalties.”