Newcastle United returned to winning ways on Friday night, beating Wolves 1-0 at St. James’ Park courtesy of Chris Wood’s cool head from the penalty spot.
Newcastle United defeated Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 in the Premier League on Friday, putting an end to any lingering doubts about getting dragged back into the relegation battle as the season heads towards its business end.
With the result, the Magpies snapped a run of three straight defeats in the Premier League to open a ten-point gap over the Premier League drop zone, while Bruno Lage’s side missed out on a chance to push into the top six.
Neither side created much in a drab opening 45 minutes, with Miguel Almiron pulling his half-volley over the bar after controlling Bruno Guimaraes’s wonderful lob over the Wolves’ defence. Soon after, the hosts thought they struck the opener in the 24th minute when Chris Wood pounced on a mix-up between Willy Boly and Jonny after some brilliant link-up between Guimaraes and Almiron.
But the goal was chalked off by VAR after Guimaraes was deemed offside in the build-up. After the break, Newcastle piled the pressure on the visitors. And their sustained attacks were rewarded with a penalty when Allan Saint-Maximin’s neat turn released Joelinton. Joelinton, in turn, slid in Wood, who was tripped by a weak contact from the onrushing Wolves keeper, Jose Sa.
▪️ Newcastle United when Eddie Howe took over:
19th, zero wins
▪️ Five months later:
14th, eight wins
10 points clear of the relegation zone 👏 pic.twitter.com/5MRHSkA6rg
— GOAL (@goal) April 8, 2022
The New Zealand international picked himself up to eventually put Newcastle in front with 20 minutes to go on the clock. Following that, big spaces began to open up as Wolves rallied back and Newcastle counter-attacked with pace.
Fabio Silva could not keep his open header down from Marcal’s high cross before his snapshot forced Martin Dubravka into a low save as the Magpies looked nervy towards the end. But Newcastle held on to seal the crucial three points and put themselves on the brink of Premier League safety.
Martin Dubravka: 7/10
Dubravka did not have much to do between the sticks and looked like a cool customer until Newcastle took the lead and Wolves started to rally back with waves of attacks.
The Slovak pulled off a superb right-handed save to deny Fabio Silva from finding the bottom corner on 81 minutes and made another vital stop to preserve Newcastle’s delicate-looking lead. He also dealt with a few awkward balls into the box with confident catches and was rewarded with a well-deserved clean sheet for his efforts.
Emil Krafth: 6.5/10
Krafth put forth a solid yet unspectacular display on his return to the side. The Swede was a competent physical presence and had an unusually decent recovery pace on the right-wing, winning a few tackles and duels. A vital second-half block was the standout moment of the night. Probably a bit under-rated, he also made some good underlapping and overlapping runs down the right flank.
Fabian Schar: 7/10
Keeping aside a nervy spell at the beginning of the second half, Schar had a decent game at the back as he kept a compact defensive line along with Daniel Burn. It was a commanding presence from the Swiss centre-half, who made a team-high four clearances. He gave possession away cheaply at times but stayed sturdy enough to retain a clean sheet.
Dan Burn: 7/10
Burn quickly bounced back from a nightmare of a performance against Spurs with a terrific display here. Untroubled in the first half, Burn was aerially good and won a lot of headers in Newcastle’s box to snuff out any potential threats. He could have found the back of the net himself, but fired a feeble shot just after the restart in the second half.
Matt Targett: 7/10
Targett was back to his dependable best after a blip at Tottenham last weekend. The Englishman never took his foot off the gas down the left-hand side and was a thorn in the Wolves’ play, making three tackles and two interceptions. He also got forward very well to support Saint-Maximin and crossed the ball into good areas.
Jonjo Shelvey: 7/10
Shelvey sat as the deepest of the midfield three as Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes bombed forward to influence the attack. It was a very good display from the Englishman, whose distribution was absolutely spot on, as he completed almost 92% of his 38 attempted passes and a match-high nine accurate long balls. He played several balls over the top to pick out the runners but struggled to draw that killer pass from his locker.
Bruno Guimaraes: 9/10
In a match lacking quality, Bruno stood out as a classy playmaker and was the best player on the pitch by a mile. He passed the ball around with style, and he was crucial to everything positive Newcastle did. The Brazilian made several incisive passes from midfield and helped give Newcastle some cutting edge in the final third.
💫 @brunoog97‘s game in numbers:
1️⃣ Key Pass
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣% Dribbles Completed
9️⃣0️⃣% Passing Accuracy
Sublime. 👏 pic.twitter.com/5DRcziSOa5
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 8, 2022
The 24-year-old created a big opportunity for Saint-Maximin after the hour mark before coming close to scoring on his home debut but dragged a shot just wide. Aside from his sparkling flicks and progressive passes, there is an edge and steeliness to his game, while he also showed great engine and worked tirelessly off-the-ball to regain possession for his side.
And his numbers back up the claim. The Brazilian international completed 37 passes, won all of his 12 duels, won possession back seven times, and completed a game-high five tackles. It was to no one’s surprise that he received a well-deserved standing ovation from the Newcastle crowd when he was replaced by Sean Longstaff late on.
Joelinton did not look confident in possession at the start of the game as he gave the ball away sloppily far too many times, but he grew as the game progressed. The Brazilian worked hard and was involved in a lot of midfield tussles. He also played a slick pass to slide in Wood through on goal to win that all-important penalty.
Ryan Fraser: N/A
Fraser was hauled off after 10 minutes or so in the first half with a hamstring injury. Replaced by Miguel Almiron.
Chris Wood: 8/10
⚽️ Chris Wood – most PL goals, by opponent
7️⃣ v West Ham
6️⃣ v Wolves (all in last 5 apps)
4️⃣ v Leicester
Wood has scored 23 of his 25 club career penalties pic.twitter.com/6XnbMxJSe4
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) April 8, 2022
Wood was unfortunate to have a goal chalked off for offside by VAR. He had the fewest touches of any player and did not win many headers. Yet he was critical in the hold-up play and combined very well with the creative players around him before cleverly winning the game-winning penalty. He kept his cool to convert from the spot. It was his second goal for Newcastle and his first at St. James’ Park in front of Gallowgate End.
Allan Saint-Maximin: 6.5/10
The Player to Watch in our preview, Saint-Maximin had come under fire in recent weeks for his work off the ball. While he tried to put those critics to bed with a willing attitude to track back in recent games, that came at the expense of reduced attacking involvement.
Here, though, the Newcastle talisman completed the most dribbles in the match and looked dangerous whenever he got the ball. But he often found himself frustrated by Wolves’ organised backline and struggled to beat his man, while his passing was sloppy at best.
Miguel Almiron: 7/10
Almiron was lively soon after he was substituted on for the injured Fraser. He tried to be inventive and got shots away, but those were wayward and lacking sharpness. He produced a brilliant piece of skill to combine with Bruno Guimaraes during the build-up to Wood’s disallowed goal.
Sean Longstaff: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Jacob Murphy: N/A
Did not play enough to warrant a rating.