English roundup: Saint-Maximin saves point for Newcastle against Leeds

The 24-year-old Frenchman blasted home a superb equalizer to cancel out Raphinha’s opener.

Allan Saint-Maximin

Newcastle United's Allan Saint-Maximin shoots at goal in St James' Park.   -  Action Images via Reuters

Newcastle United had Allan Saint-Maximin’s brilliance to thank after coming from behind to secure a 1-1 draw against Leeds United in the Premier League on Friday.

The 24-year-old Frenchman blasted home a superb equalizer to cancel out Raphinha’s opener on a night when sections of the 50,000 crowd at St. James’ Park once again chanted for Newcastle manager Steve Bruce to go.

Both sides are still awaiting a first league win of the season and the 60-year-old Bruce knows his critics are far from placated, but equally that his players are playing for him.

Leeds took the lead after 13 minutes when Raphinha crossed from the left, Rodrigo appeared to attempt to back-heel the ball toward goal and, in the process, wrong-footed Karl Darlow. The Newcastle goalkeeper could only look on in horror as Raphina's cross sailed into his net.

Chants of “We want Brucey out” immediately rang around the stadium.

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The Magpies finally responded with Miguel Almiron dragging an attempt across the face of goal after Matt Ritchie’s cross had been only half-cleared and Joelinton firing straight at 'keeper Illan Meslier following Saint-Maximin’s blistering run.

Rodrigo steered a 25th-minute shot wide and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips was similarly inaccurate four minutes later with the visitor picking holes at will.

Darlow had to get down well to claim Mateusz Klich’s deflected strike, but opposite number Meslier needed the help of the post to keep out Ritchie’s 35th-minute effort after it had clipped a defender on its way to goal.

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As the halftime whistle approached, Bruce abandoned the back three with which he had started, switching to a four and his side restored parity in the penultimate minute of the half.

Saint-Maximin, by far Newcastle’s most impressive performer on the night, collected Joelinton’s square ball on the edge of the box and side-stepped two prospective challenges before smashing a low drive across Meslier and into the net.

The home side had a better, more resilient shape about it immediately after the break, although Daniel James was still gifted time and space to drag a 50th-minute volley wide and Darlow had to make a fine reaction save from teammate Jamaal Lascelles’ headed clearance.

Patrick Bamford should have restored Leeds’ advantage with 18 minutes remaining but shot tamely at Darlow from Rodrigo’s inch-perfect through ball, and Meslier made a vital 84th-minute stop to deny Saint-Maximin what would surely have been the winner.

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