Newcastle United 1-1 Watford: Player ratings, heroes and villains as Magpies blow chance to exit Premier League relegation zone

Newcastle United remain in the Premier League relegation zone after conceding a late equaliser to Watford.

Newcastle United squandered the opportunity to exit the Premier League zone after conceding an 87th-minute equaliser against Watford at St James’ Park.

Joao Pedro inflicted the killer blow as he headed home in front of the Gallowgate End - cancelling out Allan Saint-Maximin’s earlier opener.

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That’s now 21 points dropped from a winning position for Eddie Howe’s side, as relegation fears ring loud on Tyneside.

The heroes

- Allan Saint-Maximin: A game of two halves for the Frenchman. For 45 minutes, he was a pedestrian - a carbon copy of his Cambridge performance. But that changed after the break, albeit very briefly, as Saint-Maximin swiftly handed his side the lead. While it was a gift from Jeremy Ngakia, it was an excellent finish as he cut inside on the left before firing low into Ben Foster’s near post.

- Paul Dummett: It’s been a long road back for the Geordie left-back following multiple setbacks during his recovery from a calf injury that has kept him out of Premier League action since May 2021. It was fantastic to see him make his first appearance of the campaign. A vastly underrated - and underappreciated - defender for the football club, as proven against the Hornets, despite the final scoreline.

- Josh King: Howe knows all about King having signed him for Bournemouth in 2015. And he was a big, physical presence in attack for Watford. In direct duels with Jamaal Lascelles, the former Manchester United man often came out on top. He held the ball up superbly, relieving the pressure on his teammates. A display Chris Wood is capable of, but didn’t show that on his debut.

The villains

- Eddie Howe: After taking the lead, United had to grow street-wise and manage the game. And quite simply, they didn’t. Newcastle were too passive... where was the game management? Watford were willingly allowed a foothold back in the game and Howe & Co paid the price. So frustrating.

- Jamaal Lascelles: On the balance of the afternoon, Lascelles was solid, certainly one of his better performances this season. But he let himself down right at the end when he was beaten in the air by Pedro for the equaliser.

- Joao Pedro: Played pantomime villain for the day, and naturally, ended up scoring a late equaliser to break Geordie hearts. It all began in the first-half when he twice got involved with Kieran Trippier. The first incident saw Pedro throw himself to ground as the United full-back attempted to take a quick free-kick. A little over 10 minutes later, when Emmanuel Dennis did the same, Pedro rushed over to get in the face of Trippier. Shushed the Gallowgate at the end during his celebration.

- Jeremy Ngakia: A slip up on the left, where he completely lost possession of the ball, sent Saint-Maximin away to net the opener. A huge error in a game that was bound to be decided by the odd goal. After that, Ngakia was a nervous wreck and by 65 minutes, Claudio Ranieri had seen enough, replacing him with Kiko Femenia, who crossed for Pedro’s equaliser.

Player ratings

Newcastle: Dubravka 6 Trippier 7, Schar 6, Lascelles 5, Dummett 8; Longstaff 7, Shelvey 6, Joelinton 7; Fraser 7 (Murphy 74: 6), Saint-Maximin (Almiron 85: N/A); Wood 5. Subs not used: Darlow, Gillespie, Ritchie, Lewis, Krafth, Willock, Anderson.

Watford: Foster 7, Ngakia 6 (Femenia 65: 7), Cathcart 7, Samir 7, Kamara 7, Kucka 6 (Cleverley 77: N/A), Sissoko 8, Kaydembe 7, Pedro 7, King 8, Dennis 6 (Hernandez 84: N/A). Subs not used: Bachmann, Sema, Tufan, Kabasele, Sierralta, Morris.

Who do Newcastle play next?

Newcastle travel to Leeds United in the Premier League next weekend (January 15).