The points were shared on an unusually hot evening in north east England as Newcastle and Aston Villa held each other to a draw.
The visitors looked lively from kick off and created a number of chances early on, but failure to find a goal let Newcastle back into the game toward the end of the first half. Steve Bruce's side looked to attack in a direct fashion, with the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron, but they struggled to break down a tight Villa defence, meaning the game was goalless at the break.
Newcastle were much more comfortable after the break, for the most part. While Villa broke occasionally through Jack Grealish, the Magpies looked in control. They hammered away at a resolute away defence and deservedly opened the scoring with just over 20 minutes to go. Substitutes Andy Carroll and Dwight Gayle linked up, with the former crossing in for the latter to slide it into the back of the net.
Villa responded well, however, and found the equaliser, also through a substitute. Ahmed Elmohamady's header inspired a big push for all three points from Villa in the closing stages, but they had to settle for a hard-earned point.
Key Talking Point
It took the hosts 15 minutes or so to fully wake up and get into the game at St. James' Park, but after a few early Villa chances, Newcastle found their feet. Allan Saint-Maximin was busy from the off, constantly looking to beat Villa defenders with support from Almiron.
Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden had a difficult task off the ball in keeping Jack Grealish quiet, with him occupying a more central role. However, the pair grew in confidence as Villa failed to convert chances, and began to find Saint-Maximin in attack, who was a constant threat on either flank.
The Magpies changed their tune at the start of the second half, looking alive and more urgent straight from the whistle. Both teams relied on their star men in Grealish and Saint-Maximin as the game drew on, with both providing a spark on the counter when needed.
It was the substitutes that broke the deadlock, however. Carroll crossed into Gayle in the 68th minute, who scored as Villa's defence were caught sleeping after the drinks break.
Newcastle took their foot off the gas heading into the closing stages, though, and conceded after an onslaught of crosses and corners. Elmohamady was unmarked at the near post and keeper Martin Dubravka couldn't get down to keep out his subsequent header. They managed to hang on tight to avoid slumping to a defeat, but it will feel like two points dropped for Steve Bruce's side.
Newcastle United Player Ratings
Starting XI: Dubravka (5); Manquillo (6), Lascelles (6), Fernandez (6), Rose (6); Ritchie (7), Shelvey (8), Hayden (6), Saint-Maximin (8*); Almiron (7); Joelinton (6).
Substitutes: Carroll (7), Gayle (8), Bentaleb (5), Lazaro (5).
The Frenchman continues to go from strength to strength at Newcastle, who will no doubt have a tough job of keeping hold of him this summer.
Saint-Maximin caused problems for Villa's defence throughout. He looked a threat every time he picked up the ball, seamlessly skipping past players whenever he fancied.
It might not have been the 23-year-old who scored Newcastle's opener, but without his direct attack and desire to wear down the Claret and Blue at the back, Newcastle would've completely lacked confidence in attack.
If anyone in the Premier League can pull off that Gucci headband, it's Saint-Maximin.
Key Talking Point
The visitors were confident from the first whistle and applied the correct urgency needed when in a relegation scrap. They were comfortable on the ball and looked to attack Newcastle from a number of angles, notably the right-hand side. Trezeguet had the best chance six minutes in, but could only fire wide despite being left free at the far post. Another great ball from Anwar El Ghazi was once again wasted just minutes after, this time by Mbwana Samatta.
However, failure to convert clear cut chances let Newcastle back into the game. Villa looked sluggish heading into the second half, with the likes of Grealish having to track back and defend.
The hard work was undone when their defence were caught off guard shortly after the drinks break, allowing a fresh Gayle to score, with Mings drifting out wide to mark Carroll. It was a disappointing goal for Dean Smith's side to concede, especially considering how many chances they had created in the first half and how well they had defended until conceding.
They picked up after conceding, however, and bombarded the hosts' box. Eventually, substitute Elmohamady found the equaliser from a corner, which rescued Villa a crucial point. It could've been three, but Villa's revival was just too late, and the hosts hung on.
Aston Villa Player Ratings
Starting XI: Nyland (5); Ngoyo (6), Hause (6), Mings (7), Targett (5); McGinn (7), Douglas Luiz (5), Trezeguet (5); El Ghazi (6), Samatta (5), Grealish (7).
Substitutes: Hourihane (5), Davis (6), Nakamba (7), Elmohamady (8).
While Newcastle look virtually safe from relegation in 13th and could still earn a top half finish, a point for Villa keeps them rooted in 19th.
Smith's side now sit on 27 points and must use this positive performance away from home as inspiration for what is an incredibly tough run of fixtures between now and the end of the season. They host Wolves on Saturday afternoon, but then play Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal in their final few fixtures.
Source : 90min