Miguel Almiron scored his first goal for Newcastle United as the Magpies moved up to ninth place in the Premier League following a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace.

It was far from a classic at St James' Park - Martin Dubravka made some important saves to keep Palace out -but Almiron ended his 11-month goal drought in style with eight minutes to go.

Here are five things we learned from the game.

Miguel Almiron ends his drought

St James' Park has witnessed some remarkable moments this season - from Andy Carroll's return in black-and-white to Matty Longstaff's winner against Manchester United - but Miguel Almiron's first goal for Newcastle gave the Magpies' fans an unexpected early Christmas present.

Eleven months after completing his move from Atlanta United, the Paraguayan ended his drought with a crucial winning goal at a time when the Magpies needed some inspiration.

Palace had looked the likelier to score until Almiron stepped up and volleyed home Andy Carroll's knockdown to send the Gallowgate wild with eight minutes to go.

Almiron had been relaxed about his lengthy goal drought but the joy and relief was etched all over his face as he threw his shirt off and celebrated with the fans. It also secured the Magpies a crucial three points. Was it any wonder Steve Bruce gave the Paraguayan a big bear hug at full-time?

Martin Dubravka again keeps his side in it

You expect your goalkeeper to make saves but, time and time again this month, Martin Dubravka has made some priceless stops to keep Newcastle in games and it was no different against Crystal Palace.

In a game of few clear cut chances - Newcastle had just three shots on target - the Slovakia international denied Wilfried Zaha, James McArthur and Christian Benteke from close range before the Magpies broke the deadlock.

Bruce would rather his goalkeeper was not so busy but knows that with the 30-year-old back in form, his side can withstand pressure. You can see why the Magpies were so keen to tie down Dubravka to a new six-year contract earlier this year.

Dubravka kept McArthur out

Two-man strike force as Bruce reverts to 3-5-2 

Seeing Joelinton and Andy Carroll starting together was nothing new - the pair played in a three-man frontline at Burnley a week previously - but Steve Bruce sprung a surprise when the teams kicked off. 

Rather than playing out on the left, Joelinton was paired alongside Carroll in a 3-5-2, the formation Bruce started the campaign with. 

Miguel Almiron and Isaac Hayden looked to break forward in support of the pair, with Jonjo Shelvey sitting deep, and the set-up and energetic start from the Magpies appeared to catch Palace by surprise in the early stages. 

Once Palace settled, though, their defensive shape frustrated Newcastle, who struggled to string more than two passes together at times.

It was another frustrating afternoon for Joelinton and it will be interesting to see if Bruce persists with the experiment over the festive period or reverts back to 3-4-2-1 for the trip to Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

A clean sheet on Florian Lejeune's return

It was in this very fixture 259 days previously that Florian Lejeune suffered the second serious knee injury of his career but Steve Bruce felt it was the right time to reintroduce the Frenchman to first-team action.

The Newcastle head coach spoke to Lejeune a few weeks ago about how the longer he trained, the better physically and mentally he would be ahead of inevitably coming back into the side.

Lejeune, after all, ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee against Crystal Palace in April - just nine months after suffering the same injury in his left knee.

Florian Lejeune of Newcastle United (20) during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Crystal Palace at St. James Park
Lejeune made his first appearance since April

The Frenchman has played some reserve team football since then and while stepping up for the first team is a different matter altogether, Lejeune acquitted himself well.

The benefit of having Lejeune, and indeed Federico Fernandez and Fabian Schar in the team, is the centre-back's ball-playing ability and you can already tell Bruce is a fan.

Another defender, Javier Manquillo, also impressed and the unassuming Spaniard dealt well with Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha.

An ideal start to festive period as Newcastle move up to ninth

Newcastle move up to ninth in the Premier League on 25 points and five wins from their final 20 games will guarantee safety.

That is a great place to be in on December 21 and the Magpies got their packed festive schedule off to the perfect start, result wise.

Bruce knows his side will have to improve against Manchester United, Everton and Leicester City but that is the ideal result to build on now.