Bar an odd defence-splitting pass from Shelvey – (up against his former employers) – and Swansea’s Sam Clucas, the watching Gareth Southgate did not have too much high calibre stuff to get excited about. Perhaps tellingly, a key sub-plot centred on Bartley’s testing duel with Pérez, which, considering the former was on a yellow card following a tug on Gayle, left the centre-half effectively treading on eggshells.

DeAndre Yedlin pleased Benítez rather more by clearing off the line from Wilfried Bony with Darlow beaten at the death.

Arguably the Spaniard’s most pressing worry is his lack of an incisive striker. The early second-half moment when Clucas was dispossessed and Gayle shot low and, narrowly wide, seemed emblematic; a chronic shortage of ruthlessness in front of goal could get cost Benítez’s team their Premier League status.

Then there was the moment when Christian Atsu crossed low for Paul Dummett but the advancing left-back seemed to get the ball stuck beneath his feet at the wrong moment and, miscueing, sent the ball ballooning into the Leazes End.

A hyper-active Ayoze Pérez turned Kyle Bartley inside out before crossing for Gayle to head wide, Lukasz Fabianski did well to parry Pérez’s shot following Matt Ritchie’s clever ball over the top of the defence and Jonjo Shelvey lifted a free-kick just over the bar.

Jonjo Shelvey squares up to Swansea’s Jordan Ayew on a day when the Newcastle midfielder was in argumentative mood.




Jonjo Shelvey squares up to Swansea’s Jordan Ayew on a day when the Newcastle midfielder was in argumentative mood.
Photograph: TGSPhoto/TGSPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Joselu denies Swansea victory but Shelvey’s insolence alarms Newcastle

As Rafael Benítez and Carlos Carvalhal shook hands at the end, neither man could disguise their disappointment.

Happily for Carvalhal, no official could find anything remotely illicit about the header with which Jordan Ayew gave Swansea the lead. That goal began with an excellent right-wing cross from Mike van der Hoorn and featured Karl Darlow making a fine one handed save from Ayew’s initial header. Fortune though had clearly decided to frown on Newcastle’s keeper who parried the ball straight back towards Ayew’s forehead and saw the ball nestling in the back of the net.

Earlier Gayle thought he had scored but the assistant referee Sian Massey had no hesitation in flagging him offside as he headed a corner beyond Fabianski.

Joselu equalises from a narrow angle for Newcastle United.


Joselu equalises from a narrow angle for Newcastle United. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

England’s manager had quite possibly ventured north from his Harrogate home to watch Jamaal Lascelles. This though was a relatively quiet day for Benítez’s captain and key defender.

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