Crystal Palace 0 Newcastle United 0: Sakho misses sitter as Magpies remain winless
Newcastle United's wait for a first win of the season goes on, but they were fortunate to even claim a point in a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park as Mamadou Sakho missed a golden late chance for Crystal Palace.
The hosts enjoyed the better of an often-scrappy contest and struck the post in the first half when a Luka Milivojevic free-kick glanced off the head of Jamaal Lascelles.
Sakho was then guilty of an extraordinary miss with eight minutes of normal time remaining, the defender heading wide from inside the six-yard box with the goal gaping after Andros Townsend's cross drifted over Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Palace therefore remain winless at home this season, while Newcastle have just two points from six Premier League games.
— Crystal Palace F.C. (@CPFC) September 22, 2018
Wilfried Zaha, so often the talisman for Roy Hodgson's men, appeared to be hampered by injury in the warm-up and the Eagles duly lacked a spark with the winger below his brilliant best.
Nevertheless, it was Palace who generally posed the greater threat, even though Ayoze Perez and Lascelles spurned clear-cut chances for Newcastle in the opening period.
After bringing a series of routine stops from Dubravka, the hosts went agonisingly close to an opener in the 37th minute. Milivojevic's inswinging free-kick from the left took the slightest touch off Lascelles and the ball bounced back off the inside of the far post with Dubravka beaten.
Joselu replaced the ineffective Salomon Rondon at the start of the second half and swiftly posed a greater threat. The Spaniard had a penalty appeal turned down before volleying acrobatically at Wayne Hennessey.
Newcastle scarcely threatened thereafter, but they were at least able to claim a point as increasing Palace pressure failed to bring reward due to Sakho's shocking late miss.
There was an unsavoury moment prior to that chance as a plastic bottle appeared to be thrown onto the pitch from the section housing away supporters and strike Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
What it means: Magpies in desperate need of improvement
Palace showed last season it is possible to recover from a dismal start to the campaign, but things certainly look bleak for Newcastle at present. Their fans were already frustrated by a lack of pre-season investment and must wonder where a win is coming from. While a point from this fixture represents a creditable return, Benitez's men again looked short of quality.
Townsend the best of the bunch
With Zaha quieter than usual, Townsend took centre stage as Palace's main creative threat. A strong performance from the former England international would have been deservedly rewarded with a late assist had Sakho hit the target from three yards late on.
Rondon was replaced at half-time. It was easy to forget he had started the game. Newcastle's number nine cut an isolated figure throughout the opening period and completed just five passes before making way for Joselu. Aleksandar Mitrovic and Dwight Gayle - two forwards who left St James' Park in the close season - were on target elsewhere on Saturday.
17 - Since his debut for Fulham in Feb 2018, Aleksandar Mitrovic has scored more league goals across the top four tiers of English Football than any other player (17). Fire. pic.twitter.com/lXgAsRZs3H
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 22, 2018
Palace will swiftly return to action with an EFL Cup trip to West Brom on Tuesday. Having already been knocked out of that competition, Newcastle have a seven-day break before resuming their search for a Premier League victory at home to Leicester City.