Newcastle lost against Benfica on Tuesday night, but Eddie Howe was very encouraged by Miguel Almiron’s performance.
The Magpies were beaten 3-2 in Portugal, in what was a mixed performance against a very strong side. We could have been better defensively and gave away some sloppy goals, but we did very well to compete against such high quality opposition.
Newcastle’s best player of the night has to be Almiron, who scored both of our goals in the first half. He wasn’t even meant to start initially, but was swapped in for Jacob Murphy shortly before kickoff.
It’s unclear why that happened but the 28-year-old took his opportunity with both hands and scored two lovely goals. It takes his pre-season tally to six, which is very encouraging heading into the Premier League.
Now the manager has spoke about Almiron’s showing at the Estadio da Luz.
Howe hails Almiron’s performance against Benfica
After the game, Howe spoke to NUFC TV and discussed Almiron’s contribution.
“I thought we scored two great goals tonight, really good team goals which were both scored by Miggy,” he said.
“Could have had another one as well, so I thought he had a really good evening. But there was some really good signs in both halves and I thought the players gave everything for the result.
“Really pleased [with him]. We all know with Miggy it’s not just his goals which have helped us this pre-season, it’s his work ethic as well and his team play is second to none.
“I’m really pleased for him personally that he’s got the lift of the goals and I’m sure that will help him going into the season.”
Almiron adding goals to his game
The speedster’s first four pre-season goals came in behind closed doors encounters against Gateshead and Burnley. While it was good for his confidence, we needed to see him do it against better opposition.
And that’s exactly what he did last night. Both of Almiron’s goals were excellent, and he showed a ruthlessness we’ve rarely seen from him.
He could have given Newcastle the lead very early on when he cleverly combined with Bruno Guimaraes, but his effort went wide. Watching back, he should have rolled Callum Wilson in for the opener.
But he responded with a brace, and Almiron is looking the best he ever has heading into the new season.
As Howe says, he brings so much to the team with his work ethic. But his end product has been lacking. He didn’t get a single assist last season and scored just once – that stunner against Crystal Palace.
Hopefully pre-season is a sign of what’s to come this season from Almiron. If so, he could be on the brink of a Joelinton style rival orchestrated by Howe.