Newcastle United are back up to fifth in the Premier League having secured their first league win since January 15. Miguel Almiron came off the bench to score his first goal at St James’ Park since October to secure a 2-1 win and it was a day of relief for Eddie Howe, after his side had hit a sticky run of form.
Defeats to Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool in their last three games had dampened the mood around the north east, but it feels with that Carabao Cup final out of the way, the Magpies can get back to business in the league. With a kinder fixture list to come, the Geordies will be hopeful that their side can use this as a platform to get themselves back into the top four conversation.
They are now four points behind Tottenham Hotspur, who beat Nottingham Forest this weekend, and six points behind Manchester United, who could only draw 0-0 at home with Southampton. With United to play at home after the international break, they could pull the Red Devils back within touching distance with three points.
They were perhaps fortunate that Nick Pope didn’t see red again after his early howler. Raul Jiminez caught him on the ball, and he wanted a penalty after Pope brought him to the ground. However, Andy Madley judged there not to be enough contact and the England man escaped without punishment.
Despite Wolves’ bright start, it was Newcastle who went in front when Alexander Isak rose highest from a Kieran Trippier set piece and placed his header into the far corner after a spell of Wolves’ pressure.
Isak was running the Wolves defence ragged in the first half. Callum Wilson, on the bench, simply hasn’t performed over the last month and finally the Swedish striker was unleashed from the start by Eddie Howe. He was brought in for a club-record £63m, and when he performs like this you can understand why Newcastle made such a big investment in the 23-year-old Swedish international.
Encouraging #NUFC are finding ways to emulate that - feels like the first game they've truly managed it.
But both benches in the second half would make a big impact. First Julen Lopetegui mixed things up as Hee-Chan Hwang came off the bench as part of a triple change for Wolves and then just a matter of seconds later, he scored. Kieran Trippier slipped in front of Pope when he had the opportunity to clear or leave it for his goalkeeper, and played the ball straight to Hwang who tapped into an empty net.
It was a gift for the visitors, but Wolves switched to a five at the back and it seemed that took the wind out of their sails. Newcastle found their confidence again and then Miguel Almiron came off the bench and hit back with a goal of his own. He played a clever one-two with Joe Willock and then fired the found space in the box to fire the ball past Jose Sa, with the help of a slight deflection.
He’s struggled for form recently and for goals at home, but he was back amongst the goals here and let out a bellowing roar to the crowd in celebrations. Newcastle are so hard to beat when they get their noses in front and Wolves simply couldn’t affect the tie as the Magpies secured all three points.
Howe will be happy to focus on the league again with a much-needed three points. Whether they wanted to or not, the Carabao Cup had drawn a lot of their energy. With no Europe, now all they have to focus on is the Premier League. It could drag them back into Champions League contention.
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