Miguel Almiron’s goal with 11 minutes left boosted Newcastle’s Champions League hopes as the Magpies got back on winning ways with a 2-1 win over Wolves.
Going into this match, nine of the last 15 meetings between these two sides ended in a 1-1 draw, and it looked to be headed in that direction again after Wolves substitute Hee-Chan Hwang eliminated Alexander Isak in the first half. with 20 minutes to go.
But while Wolves were on point, substitute Almiron – dropped by Eddie Howe alongside Callum Wilson – made a slick 1-2 with Joe Willock before hitting the far corner.
However, there was VAR controversy beforehand as Nick Pope was dismissed from a potential penalty and red card after colliding with Raul Jimenez in the first half.
Referee Andy Madley and VAR Tony Harrington opted not to send off Pope and took the penalty, with the Newcastle goalkeeper making some key saves to hold off the visitors for the rest of the match.
How submarines took over St James’
Both sides battled for goals in this match but got off to a confident start despite failing to create clear chances in the frantic opening 20 minutes.
Pope deflected Joao Moutinho’s free-kick before Kieran Trippier fired his own set piece from the edge of the box straight into the Wolves wall.
Newcastle: Pope (7); Trippier (8), Schar (6), Botman (6), Burn (7); Guimaraes (7), Longstaff (6), Willock (7); Murphy (6), Isak (9), Saint-Maximin (7)
Subscriptions: Almiron (8), Wilson (6), Ritchie (N/A)
wolves: Sa (7); Semedo (6), Dawson (7), Kilman (6), Jonny (5); Neves (6), Lemina (6), Moutinho (6); A. Traore (5), Jimenez (6), Podence (6)
Subscriptions: Neto (7), Hwang (7), Ait-Nouri (6), Nunes (6), Collins (5)
Man of the Match: Alexander Isak
Then came the moment of controversy. Pope took Dan Burns’ backpass a little too confidently, hitting hard, allowing Jimenez to overtake him and head for goal.
There was a tangle of legs when the Wolves striker tried to walk past the Newcastle goalkeeper, but referee Madley waved his hand away to dismiss the visitors’ penalty requests. VAR noted that there was no clear and obvious error in the referee’s decision.
Six minutes later Newcastle overtook the lead – adding to Wolves’ woes. Trippier’s free-kick from the right put Isak on the front post and the Swedish striker hit the far corner with a superb header.
The wolves, possibly hurt by the alleged injustice, struggled to keep up with the magpies flying high. Willock hit wide seconds after Isak’s opener before Bruno Guimaraes hit the crossbar from close range after Burn pulled back Trippier’s deep corner.
Almost in the next attack, the Wolves hit the woodwork themselves, with Daniel Podence cutting inside from the left and grating a shot into Pope’s near post.
Wolves were much better after the break with Ruben Neves shooting from distance and before the break substitute Pedro Neto slashed Pope’s hands with a hissing free-kick.
Trippier saw another free-kick stopped by Jose Sa while Neves blazed from the penalty area as the ball sat nicely for him on the other side.
Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui made a triple substitution that included a throw-in for Hwang and found the net 57 seconds later.
The South Korean striker broke into the Newcastle penalty area and while Trippier tried to move out from under Jimenez’s feet, the right-back slipped and Pope also searched for the ball. Hwang had a simple task: to hit an empty net.
But Almiron – who came on shortly after Hwang – would have the last laugh as his quick trade with Willock saw him enter the right side of the box with a clear view of goal. As soon as the impact left his boot, there was no one in St James’ Park who didn’t expect the net to bulge.
It could have been third towards the end of the game as Sven Botman was on fire at close range in Almiron’s maze. But a third goal was not necessary as Newcastle were back on winning ways after three successive 2-0 defeats.
Redknapp: VAR made a big mistake with Pop incident
Jamie Redknapp from Sky Sports:
“Has Newcastle gotten away with it? Of course. Pope is incredibly lucky.
“I can’t believe they didn’t send Andy Madley to the monitor. Pope takes it off with his right shoulder – checks it with his body.
“There’s no doubt it’s a foul. And since he’s not trying to play the ball, it would be a penalty kick, a red card and a disqualification for him. That decision was so important.
“It’s such an important moment in this game that it takes some time at the VAR monitor. What a big mistake.”
Friday 17 March 19:00
Start at 20:00
Newcastle have to wait five days for the next game: Friday away football at Nottingham Forest, live Sky Sports starting at 20:00.
Four of WolvesThey will play the next five matches against teams around them, starting with a home game against Leeds on Saturday, kick-off at 3pm.