It was worth the wait. After 11 months, 26 appearances and 2,191 minutes, Miguel Almiron scored his first goal for Newcastle United.

The Paraguay international has never let his head drop, stunning staff with his work rate and running statistics, but he will have dreamt of this moment.

With eight minutes left on the clock, and Crystal Palace looking the likelier to break the deadlock, Fabian Schar swung a cross into the box.

Andy Carroll rose highest to knock the ball into Almiron's path and the 25-year-old volleyed home to send Newcastle fans wild.

Almiron will never forget the roar that greeted his first goal in black-and-white and in a season of memorable moments - from Carroll's second debut to Matty Longstaff's winner against Manchester United - this was was another to add to a remarkable list.

There is something about this group, a spirit and resilience that have been particularly evident since that 5-0 defeat at Leicester in September, and Almiron embodies that never say die attitude.

After knocking the ball past Vicente Guaita, Almiron peeled off his shirt, threw it into the air and celebrated with a fan in the bouncing Gallowgate end before being mobbed by his ecstatic team-mates. Andy Carroll threw Almiron up in the air, Javier Manquillo and Jonjo Shelvey both gave him a hug. Sean Longstaff remembered to pick up his shirt.

Even Steve Bruce, who has always stood by Almiron, could not help himself as he wheeled away on the touchline in celebration.

Almiron was one of three changes Bruce made from the side that lost at Burnley a week previously and Florian Lejeune and Jonjo Shelvey also came into the side.

Bruce was 'very tempted' to bring Lejeune back in for the visit of Palace on the eve of the game and, with Jetro Willems ruled out through injury, the Newcastle head coach followed through with that thought and shifted Paul Dummett to left wing-back.

It was Lejeune's first senior appearance since suffering the second serious knee injury of his career in this very fixture 259 days previously.

Lejeune made an assured return to first-team action

Shelvey and Almiron, meanwhile, shook off muscle injuries to give the Magpies the creativity and energy they sorely missed at Turf Moor last time out.

As bad as last week's game against Burnley was, this was never going to be a classic, either; there have been just 35 goals in Crystal Palace's Premier League games this season, fewer than any other side in the top-flight.

Newcastle knew they needed to set the right tone with an energetic start - the atmosphere has been flat in these kind of games at St James' Park - and they did.

Bruce sprung a surprise with a shift back to 3-5-2 - the formation he started the season with - and Joelinton and Andy Carroll started a game up top in a two-man strike force for the first time.

In the early stages, Newcastle looked slicker going forward and were not so reliant on stand-in skipper Jonjo Shelvey to orchestrate attacks from the halfway line.

The Magpies pressed high, looking to win the ball back quickly, before swiftly spraying the ball out to the channels, where Paul Dummet and Javier Manquillo, who again caught the eye, were providing the width.

Having three composed, ball-playing centre-backs helped - Fabian Schar, Federico Fernandez and Lejeune are all comfortable bringing the ball out from the back  - as they could find the wing-backs with cross field balls.

Isaac Hayden and Miguel Almiron, meanwhile, had the legs to break forward into the box in support of the front two and the pair combined for the Magpies' first chance of note on six minutes.

It is usually Almiron getting on the end of Hayden's passes but it was the former who slipped a ball through for the midfielder this time. Hayden looked to take the ball around Palace goalkeeper Vicentre Guaita but tripped and the Eagles eventually cleared.

The home fans took encouragement from Newcastle's energetic start, though, and Almiron was at the heart of it, spinning his man and getting a shot on goal following Dummett's cutback eight minutes later.

Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron (left) and Crystal Palace's James McCarthy battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle
Newcastle United's Miguel Almiron (left) and Crystal Palace's James McCarthy battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St James' Park, Newcastle

Palace, like Newcastle, are not necessarily a side who dominate possession and Roy Hodgson's side appeared happy to let the Magpies get on the ball. At one stage, on 24 minutes, Lejeune advanced unopposed and was able to shoot from distance.

The Eagles may be going through what Hodgson has described as the worst injury crisis he has encountered since his appointment in 2017, but they still pack a punch on the break with the pace of Patrick van Aanholt, Jordan Ayew and talisman Wilfried Zaha on the flanks and the aerial threat of Christian Benteke up front.

Newcastle were sent a timely reminder of that on 27 minutes when Benteke got on the end of van Aanholt's teasing cross but the Belgian's header went wide.

Palace soon began to find their feet and shape - Newcastle struggled to string two or more passes together and Shelvey resorted to trying to lob Guaita from the halfway line - and carried a threat at set-pieces, with Cheikhou Kouyate heading over on 34 minutes.

A few minutes later, Palace had the best chance of the first half when Benteke played Zaha into space but Martin Dubravka made a crucial save to keep him out.

Bruce cut a frustrated figure on the touchline as Newcastle struggled to keep the ball and gave away set-pieces. Just before the break, Luka Milivojevic sent his 25-yard free-kick just wide of Dubravka's post.

Palace picked up from where they left off in the second half - looking the more threatening of both sides - and Dubravka was soon called into action.

Van Aanholt, again, was at the heart of it as the full-back slipped the ball through to James McArthur, who attempted to lift the ball over Dubravka, but the Newcastle goalkeeper was able to block his effort.

The Magpies struggled to get a foothold in the game - the back three's punts into the channels were not connecting and Carroll was feeding off scraps up front.  It all got a little flat inside St James' Park.

Indeed, the home side's best chance of note came from a set-piece on 55 minutes, when Shelvey's delivery to the back post was headed down by Joelinton into Carroll's path but Guaita was there to cut out the danger.

Carroll went on to play a crucial role in Almiron's winner

Bruce looked to change things up by making a like for like change - throwing on Sean Longstaff for Hayden after the hour mark - but the Magpies were just a little too passive and predictable at times.

Dubravka stepped up with an another important save on 74 minutes to keep Benteke out after the Palace striker was played through on goal.

Dwight Gayle was soon summoned and thrown on for the final stages in place of Joelinton, who had another mixed afternoon up front, before Almiron stepped up with a crucial goal to send the Magpies up to ninth in the table - and give Newcastle United fans the perfect early Christmas present.