Bruce, surprisingly after last weekend’s 4-0 defeat to Arsenal, only made one change. Fabian Schar replaced the injured Ciaran Clark in defence.
United’s head coach resisted the temptation to recall fit-again Dwight Gayle to the starting XI against his former club.
Newcastle found themselves under pressure early in the game. Martin Dubravka superbly clawed away an early header from Gary Cahill, and they struggled to hold on to the ball.
Dubravka also stopped a Scott Dann header before Joelinton tried his luck from distance at the other end of the pitch. The striker was denied by Vicente Guaita.
Crystal Palace broke a three-match losing streak in the Premier League as former Toon full back Patrick van Aanholt scored from a free kick to give Roy Hodgson’s side a 1-0 win.
It was also Palace’s first win of the year and their first since a 2-1 victory over West Ham United on Boxing Day, ending a run of eight games without a win in all competitions.
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka kept United in the game with eight saves and Hodgson said Palace should have scored more.
“I wouldn’t have minded a few more goals, I think we would have deserved that,” Hodgson told reporters. “It would have solved some of the anxiety going into the last 10 minutes when the opponent throws caution to the wind.
“I was pleased (for Van Aanholt), he has a good technical ability. He took the responsibility with Luka (Milivojevic) not playing through illness, he said I will take the free kicks and penalties. I like that confidence.”
Dubravka denied Palace twice in the early stages from corners, flinging himself to his right to claw out a Gary Cahill header before denying Scott Dann in a similar fashion.
However, the Slovak goalkeeper found himself wrong-footed when Van Aanholt stepped up at the stroke of halftime and fired a free kick past his outstretched arm and into the net.
Jordan Ayew thought he had a penalty in the second half when he went down in the box while looking to turn but the referee waved it away, with VAR also confirming there was no foul.
Newcastle were toothless in attack and had only two shots on target and never really threatened Vicente Guaita’s goal, with striker Joelinton extending his scoreless run to 24 league games.
Newcastle were also reduced to 10 men in stoppage time when Valentino Lazaro dragged back Wilfried Zaha to prevent the winger from going one-on-one with Dubravka and the Austrian walked off the pitch even before the card was produced.
“With 10 seconds to go, does the referee really have to send him off? Is a yellow not sufficient? But rules are rules and we will abide by it,” manager Steve Bruce said.
“I don’t think we deserved to win the game. We’ve played in games and looked a threat, but today we huffed and puffed. In the final third we didn’t do a lot.”
The result allowed Palace to leapfrog Newcastle and move up to 13th in the standings with 33 points — two points ahead.
This game should have been all over by the 22nd minute but Crystal Palace were made to work hard for this 1-0 win.
United, still seven points above the relegation zone, will be looking over their shoulders in coming weeks.
Newcastle, worryingly, have gone three games without a goal. Their last league strike came before the transfer window closed at the end of last month.
Bruce sent on Gayle and Matt Ritchie with 20 minutes left on the clock. Gayle, however, didn’t get a sight of goal – and there was a chant of “attack, attack, attack” from the club’s 2,800-strong away support – and loan signing Valentino Lazaro was sent off late in the game for a professional foul.