Newcastle United’s wasteful first half nearly came back to bite its top-four hopes, but Miguel Almiron came off the bench to deliver a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
Alexander Isak put the Magpies ahead before halftime, but the hosts should’ve had more goals well before Hee-chan Hwang feasted on Newcastle errors late in the second half.
Fortunately for Eddie Howe’s men, Almiron worked a pretty 1-2 with Joe Willock to put the hosts back in front on a day that was anything but steady for either side.
Newcastle moves above Liverpool into fifth place on the Premier League table, four points off fourth-place Tottenham and six back of Manchester United with matches-in-hand on both.
Wolves remain 13th with 27 points, three above the bottom three.
[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]
Miguel Almiron comes off bench to clean up sloppy Magpies
It’s not really up for debate as to whether the Magpies weren’t the better team, but Wolves did enough to earn a point in the face of Newcastle’s wastefulness.
That’s to say this wouldn’t have been a smash-and-grab had Miguel Almiron not arrived on the scene. Nick Pope was not sanctioned by VAR for a coming-together with Raul Jimenez in the box shortly before the Magpies took their first lead, and Wolves will have felt the turnabout was fair play when Hwang put them level.
The game looked destined for 1-1 status and of course it did; Six of the eight previous Premier League meetings between the sides had ended 1-1, with a win either way sprinkled into the mix.
Enter Newcastle’s leading scorer. Miguel Almiron may not be a double-digit scorer every year, but he’s the reason the Magpies are still in the top four discussion.
The Paraguayan winger came off the bench and didn’t just score the winner, he enlivened the entire game. On another day, his slippery eel move off a late short corner has this one 3-1, but center back Sven Botman did center backs no favors by blazing over the bar in stoppage time.
If the Magpies make it to the top four or settle into the Europa League or Europa Conference League, there will be a number of “Miggy Moments” that got them there: The lone goal in an October 1-0 over Everton, the match-winning tally in a 20-1 over Tottenham four days later, the lone assist in a Nov. 12 win over Chelsea, and now the match-winner.
Newcastle vs Wolves player ratings, Stars of the Show
Alexander Isak: Certainly earned another start. Got his goal and could’ve had one or two more.
Jose Sa: The reason Isak didn’t have one or two more.
Joe Willock: Slipped Almiron in for the winner with a perfect pass; Credited with three shots, two created chances, and four recoveries.
Joao Moutinho: In the thick of everything Wolves wanted to do, turning the clock back for at least a day.
Miguel Almiron: Came off the bench and changed the game; Howe will have a hard time not trying an Almiron, Isak, Saint-Maximin front three at Forest on Friday.
Newcastle’s off to Nottingham Forest for a 4pm ET Friday match, while Wolves’ next match is a relegation six-pointer vs Leeds at the Molineux on Saturday.
Alexander Isak goal video: Swede’s sweet header makes it 1-0
Hee-chan Hwang goal video: Hard work meets silly Magpies mistakes
Miguel Almiron goal video: 1-2 with Willock makes it 2-1, Newcastle
Newcastle vs Wolves, live updates as they happened:
9th minute: This has been all-Newcastle, but the Magpies have wasted a few chances including a ridiculous short corner routine in which Allan Saint-Maximin was designed to play it backward to Kieran Trippier but no one called it off despite the presence of a back within 5 yards of Trippier.
Now the Magpies have a free kick from inside the arc. Bruno Guimaraes was clever to win it and he’ll defer to Trippier. Nothing comes of it, but Newcastle maintains possession through the quarter-hour mark.
17th minute: Wolves sprung a break down the right through a brilliant deep ball from Ruben Neves, and that’s led to a bit of chaos in both halves. Ultimately, Newcastle backstop Nick Pope does well to keep a wayward Wolves shot in play so the Magpies can reset with the ball.
23rd minute: Wolves feel they should have a penalty as Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope takes a bad touch in the box and ends up in a mini-confrontation with Raul Jimenez. VAR checks. VAR sees nothing worth changing from the on-field call. There’s definite contact but was Raul Jimenez ajudged to have moved towards Pope and not the ball?
Either way, it’s not been a banner month with the ball for Pope, whose awful decision against Liverpool led to a blowout loss and his absence from the League Cup Final.
Should Wolves have been awarded a penalty for this Nick Pope incident?
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) March 12, 2023
26th minute: GOOOOOAAAL! The ball-sharing continues, to be polite, but Newcastle strikes first off a delightful bit of free kick service from Kieran Trippier as Alexander Isak pounds a header inside the far post. It’s not more than they deserve on the whole, but Wolves will still be point back at Pope and a possible penalty.
37th minute: It’s been all Newcastle since the goal as Isak is running the show and Newcastle is having a lot of fun on the left side. Joe Willock could’ve had it 2-0 and Allan Saint-Maximin goes on a mazy dribble in the box that leads to a super-overcooked Trippier corner. Still 1-0, Magpies.
39th minute: Penalty to Newcastle? Handball on Mario Lemina but it’s dicey at best and VAR does not intervene. Then, out of nothing, Daniel Podence has a look at his sixth goal of the Premier League season but his cut inside to the middle can only find the near post.
44th minute: Yellow card for Podence as he chops down Jacob Murphy outside the 18. That’s going to be another dangerous free kick for Trippier.
HALFTIME: Newcastle’s up a goal and has taken 13 of the game’s 15 shots, but Wolves will be left to wonder what could’ve been if Pope was sent off. Adding injury to insult, Ruben Neves has spent much of halftime getting care after a chest to shoulder collision with Sean Longstaff. Lots of work for Julen Lopetegui.
53rd minute: There are few shot stoppers as elite as Nick Pope, but the Englishman is proving a problem for his side in possession as he has a clearance blocked after another sloppy touch.
58th minute: Neto smashes a free kick that’s denied by Newcastle wanted a foul for a takedown of Isak but two minutes later one arrives for Nelson Semedo’s foul on Jacob Murphy. It comes to nothing.
64th minute: Wolves are really buzzing now, and Neto’s introduction has been a big one. Newcastle will be lamenting their lack of a second goal.
68th minute: Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron enter for goal scorer Isak and winger Allan Saint-Maximin, while Wolves pull Ruben Neves and Daniel Podence. This one’s about to look quite different for the stretch run.
70th minute: GOOOOOAAAAALLLL! It’s Hee-chan Hwang taking advantage of a comedy of Newcastle errors. Kieran Trippier slips trying to make a desperate clear and maybe Pope’s a little slow to react to a loose ball in the box, but either way it’s 1-1 and the South Korean striker is happy to collect the spoils of dogged work.
How to watch Newcastle vs Wolves live, stream link and start time
Kick off: 12:30pm ET, Sunday
TV Channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com
Key storylines & star players
The Magpies are on a 315-minute goalless stretch across all competitions. Newcastle fans may know the club is ahead of schedule and forgive the zeroes against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Manchester City, but Eddie Howe should be under pressure to get his attackers performing (especially against non-powerful foes).
Wolves have scored just twice in four games, with Pablo Sarabia striking in a draw with Fulham and Adama Traore taking down Spurs 1-0. Wolves have been led this season by midfielder Ruben Neves, goalkeeper Jose Sa, and center back Max Kilman, the only three players to start more than 20 PL matches for the side.
Newcastle team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Joelinton (suspension – yellow card accumulation), Ryan Fraser (other), Emil Krafth (knee).
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) March 12, 2023
Wolves team news, injuries, lineup options
OUT: Diego Costa (knee), Hugo Bueno (thigh), Chiquinho (knee), Sasa Kalajdzic (knee), Boubacar Traore (hip)
— Wolves (@Wolves) March 12, 2023