Japan beat Saudi Arabia in esports competition at Tokyo Game Show 2021

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LONDON: New and it counts. Newcastle United remain winless since their first nine Premier League games of the season – however, their draw at Crystal Palace really looks like one point won, rather than two lost.

Christian Benteke opened the scoring for the Eagles, before acrobatics from Callum Wilson saw the Magpies return north of the capital with a point to show for their efforts.

A new era without Steve Bruce has been heralded at Tyneside, after the head coach this week showed the way out of St. James’ Park – but again, like last week against Spurs, there was little difference from what had happened before.

Graeme Jones has stepped into the dugout for this one and will do so for the next seven days until United decide on their new manager. United were clearly more organized, but much more hesitant.

Where the gaps in the back were cavernous under Bruce, things looked a lot more solid without him.

United, however, had to try their luck.

In a football half devoid of real opportunities, only two of merit have been created. One was wasted by the usually clinical Wilson and another saw Benteke hit Karl Darlow’s post.

United were brilliant doors at first, with a bit more defensive form, which so easily eluded them in the Saudi-funded era opener of the Magpies.

And Wilson went within an inch of getting Newcastle in their way, but could only find the side net when he had a chance on a tight angle just three yards away.

Benteke, an all-day air threat to United’s reinforced backline, fired a shot through the arcs as he beat both Javier Manquillo and Emil Krafth on a floating cross to hit the foot of the post.

Oddly, the highlight of the first half came with action off the pitch as United released a flip-flop statement on their previous decision to encourage fans not to wear an inspired dress Saudi Arabian.

It seems that the new owners are now in favor. The statement read: “Those who wish to support the club by wearing appropriate culturally inspired clothing should feel free to do so as they see fit. We are inclusive for everyone.

“To reiterate what we have said previously, neither the club nor its new owners have been offended by the clothes worn and appreciate the clear statements of support and acceptance from our big fans.”

Saudi flags and traditional clothing were clearly visible on the 2,800 people in South London.

After the break it was one-way traffic – and for United, back-to-wall work.

Benteke made sure the Eagles’ dominance was rewarded when he nodded at a Tyrick Mitchell cross for 1-0. It was no less than the hosts deserved.

The Belgium international almost put Palace out of sight moments later as United’s resolve began to falter. Another header, this time at the top of the bar.

Against the course of the game, however, the Magpies unexpectedly leveled as Wilson redeemed his previous failure by producing a magical second-half moment. His kick over a United corner lit up the travel medium as current PCP managers Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi hit the air in the managers’ box.

Jones’ United continued to ride their luck. Scorer Benteke continued his lavishness in front of goal.

A deep pass from Palace shattered United’s defensive line and Benteke, with everything on target, went wide off the mark.

Benteke had the ball in the net again with three minutes left and looked like he won it for the Eagles. However, the VAR gods shone on United as referee Darren England ruled out the goal for an obvious shirt-pulling by Marc Guehi on Clark.

Songs of “How much do they pay you?” – Clearly targeting the middle man, England and the new cash-rich United owners.

Jealousy and hypocrisy reign supreme in English football when it comes to Newcastle United, there is no doubt now.

But while the green-eyed monster dominates fans’ perceptions of club owners, that doesn’t ring true when it comes to their product “on the pitch”. We will probably have to wait until January and the transfer window.


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