Benitez made it clear in the post-match press of this game that he felt Crystal Palace were awarded a ‘soft penalty’ but that shouldn’t mask a frankly toothless second half by the Magpies.
The first half was a dominant, potent display from an attacking point of view.
Every time Newcastle surged forwards we had numbers in the Palace box. We caused them real danger from minute one.
Newcastle lined up for the game in an unusual 4-3-3 formation, but that is the kind of attacking versatility that the signing of Kenedy has offered us.
He was magnificent on his debut against Burnley, and was a menace again in this match. It’s clear as day to see the quality difference between him and our other players – and to think he’s considered not good enough for the Chelsea team, it shows how weak our squad actually is.
We surged forward regularly, the pace of DeAndre Yedlin and the quality of Kenedy combining to cause problems for the Palace defence, but we just couldn’t get the ball into the box.
More concerningly, while we were excellent defensively, single long passes from the Palace back line kept managing to find their way right through our own defence.
At times it was like Clark and Jamaal Lascelles were the Red Sea, because they seemed to part for Wilfried Zaha every time he got the ball.
Luckily, Karl Darlow was on hand to make some good saves and keep the scores level.
Newcastle’s goal finally came from a Kenedy corner – deja vu from Burnley in the last match – but this time was flicked on by Ayoze Perez, who’d gotten in front of the crowd of players, and it trickled nicely through for Mohamed Diame to smash home from close range.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was a goal and we needed it – we had had too many chances wasted, and Newcastle fans are well aware of how often we’ve been punished for that in the past.
The second half rounded off with more chances, Perez and Kenedy both combining with efforts during a late counterattack, but Wayne Hennessey did well to keep the ball out of the Palace net.
There were wasted chances, but the travelling Toon fans would have been happy for more of the same in the second half.
Unfortunately, that was about as far from what they saw as physically possible.
As soon as the ball was kicked in that second half, everyone in black and white watched as our team disappeared.
All of the hard work of the first half had disappeared and within ten minutes disaster had struck.
A simple Palace cross came into the box, and as the ball was cleared the linesman adjudged Ciaran Clark to have tugged on the shirt of his attacker.
The linesman was very assured of his decision – he sprinted to the goal line to make it clear he was making a call – and on replay there is little denying a shirt pull from Clark.
However, if we were to be consistent in that refereeing and award a penalty for each of them, then there would be ten awarded to each team every game.
Either way, the call had been made and Palace’s designated set-piece taker – not drama this week, like had previously affected the Eagles – stepped up.
Luka Milivojevic made no mistake with the strike, even if Darlow managed a hand to the effort.
Newcastle crumbled at that point, taking off Kenedy – our only attacking threat – and setting up for a point.
Only problem was, Palace now had the bit between their teeth.
They pushed on and on, and aside from a very late flurry at the end when the game became so stretched, all play was going in the home side’s favour.
Jonjo Shelvey then inexplicably decided to tug on the shirt of a Palace defender in the box, much to the furour of the pundits, some who clamoured for another penalty and others who bemoaned the inconsistency of refereeing.
All I would say on the matter is that Palace’s players were just as guilty in the move, as Clark found his own shirt nearly removed from his back.
Newcastle scrambled their way to a point in the end and given how desperately the side clung on, we’d have taken the point on the second half alone.
However, football matches are 90 minutes, and given the collapse in form between the first and second intervals, it should only ever be seen as two points thrown away.