Newcastle 2-1 West Brom: Miguel Almiron scores after 19 seconds in Magpies win
Miguel Almiron scored the fastest Premier League goal of the season so far and Dwight Gayle netted against his former club as Newcastle edged struggling West Brom 2-1 at St James' Park.
Paraguay international Almiron opened the scoring after just 19.98 seconds - Newcastle's second-fastest strike in Premier League history - only for the visitors to hit back five minutes after half-time through Darnell Furlong's third goal for the club.
However, substitute Gayle - making his first appearance of the season - won it for Steve Bruce's team with a brilliant header eight minutes from time.
The win sees Newcastle, who had been badly hit by Covid absences in the build-up to the game, jump up to 11th place in the table, while Slaven Bilic's men remain deep in trouble down in 19th after this latest loss.
Newcastle: Darlow (6), Lewis (6), Hayden (6), Clark (6), Krafth (6), Almiron (7), Shelvey (6), S Longstaff (6), Ritchie (6), Joelinton (7), Wilson (8)
Subs: Gayle (7), Yedlin (6), Murphy (6)
West Brom: Johnstone (7), Furlong (7), Ivanovic (6), Ajayi (6), O'Shea (6), Phillips (8), Krovinovic (6), Gallagher (8), Sawyers (6), Robinson (6), Grant (6)
Subs: Gibbs (6), Grosicki (6), Austin (7)
Man of the match: Callum Wilson
Despite having their preparations for this game badly hampered by Covid, Bruce was still able to field a strong-looking starting XI against West Brom, with the hosts only missing three players from the side that had begun their previous outing at Crystal Palace.
All that pre-match talk was soon forgotten, though, with Newcastle taking the lead straight from the kick-off - a kick-off that was not even theirs! However, West Brom captain Branislav Ivanovic was muscled off the ball by Callum Wilson, who found Joelinton and the Brazilian - with back-to-back assists - then fed Almiron in the box.
And on his 50th Premier League appearance for the club, Almiron - totally free in the area - swept home the opener, to deliver Newcastle's fastest Premier League goal since Alan Sherer netted after only 10.52 seconds against Man City in January 2003.
However, that lightning-quick strike appeared to lull the hosts into a false sense of security, with West Brom growing into proceedings as the contest wore on, and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher really should have levelled matters just before the break.
Bilic made a double change at the interval, bringing on experienced duo Charlie Austin and Kieran Gibbs, with immediate effect as the visitors soon equalised after a well-worked goal.
Matt Phillips got free down the left flank, before standing a cross up to the far post for Furlong to volley home with a finish that his dad, Paul, would have been proud of.
Steve Bruce made three changes to Newcastle's starting line-up: Federico Fernandez and Javier Manquillo were the only players who started at Crystal Palace a fortnight ago to miss out completely, while Jeff Hendrick dropped to the bench. That trio were replaced by Emil Krafth, Isaac Hayden and Matt Ritchie, the latter coming off the bench in the win at Palace after recovering from a shoulder injury.
West Brom, meanwhile, also made three changes, with Dara O'Shea, Filip Krovinovic and Callum Robinson replacing Kyle Bartley, Grady Diangana and the suspended Mateus Pereira respectively.
But instead of going for the throat and a first away win of the season, West Brom then backed off in the final quarter, with Bruce sensing his chance as the home side went with four in attack after Gayle's introduction.
And having already had a header cleared off the line with virtually his first touch, the striker then powered home fellow sub Jacob Murphy's inviting right-wing cross to break his former club's hearts.Another Newcastle late show - Opta stats
- Fifty-seven per cent of Newcastle's Premier League goals this season have come in the final 15 minutes of games (8/14), the highest ratio in the competition.
- Newcastle have won three of their last five Premier League home games (L2), more than they had in their previous 11 at St James' Park (W2 D4 L5).
- West Brom have become the first team to concede 25 goals in the Premier League this season, while the Baggies have picked up just one point from their six away games so far this term (D1 L5).
- Darnell Furlong's leveller for West Brom was his first-ever goal in the Premier League, 24 years and 285 days after his father Paul netted his final top-flight goal (for Chelsea vs Wimbledon in March 1996).
With Newcastle's squad at pinching point after a recent bout of Covid hit the northeast club, boss Steve Bruce needed all his players to stand up and be counted against West Brom on Saturday, and that is exactly what his striker did.
Wilson may not have got on the scoresheet for once, but his all-around attacking play was outstanding, whether that be holding the ball up for other players, or making any number of solo runs to keep the Baggies back line occupied.
Not only that, but the England international also played a crucial role in his side's quick-fire opener, winning a physical battle with Ivanovic on the touchline, before finding Joelinton, who then set up Almiron to score.What the managers said...
Steve Bruce: "I can't give enough credit to the players and the staff who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes over the last couple of weeks, and certainly the medical department whose decision to shut us down was spot on.
"We had three players who played today who had the virus, but it is about the after-effects and the way they recover.
"We've still got two or three who are poorly with it now, so I'm delighted for everyone concerned because it's been a really challenging 10 days or so.
"We've just got to try and find that consistency because the Premier League is so demanding.
"We've got a good couple of wins and a huge month coming up and we could do with a fully fit squad, so let's brush it down and try not to get carried away yet - but I couldn't be more pleased."
Slaven Bilic: "It's not a question for me as I am doing my job and I don't get those signals or that information.
"It's about the result of course, but today we showed again that we are there in the game to the end. We showed the character and the mentality and the quality to some degree, and the team is very much alive.
"It was a game of little margins in the end - they scored incredibly early from a situation from which we had to do better, and after that their physicality and quality up front was better than ours.
"But in the second half it was more a change of bravery and mentality, and we were good - we scored the goal but we didn't create enough clear-cut chances and again we conceded a goal that we have to stop."
Newcastle take on Leeds United at Elland Road on Wednesday night (6pm), while West Brom face Manchester City at the Etihad on Tuesday evening (8pm).