Newcastle – Wolves: Jamaal Lascelles and Ruben Neves traded second-half goals in an entertaining 1-1 between Newcastle United and Wolves at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
Of course, it was 1-1. Five of six between the two sides finished with the score line, including the last four.
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Newcastle’s 26th point means it will not finish the weekend in the bottom three regardless of what Fulham, four points back of 17th place, do on Sunday. Brighton also has 26 points, while Burnley has 28 and Southampton 30.
Wolves move onto 34 points and sixth back of seventh place.
Newcastle is off until a critical March 7 visit to 19th-place West Brom, while Wolves head to Man City on Tuesday and Aston Villa on Saturday.
Three things we learned from Newcastle – Wolves
1. Saint-Maximin, Almiron injuries weaken safety-strengthening result: Make no mistake about it, Newcastle United’s threat is largely based on the wizardry provided by Allan Saint-Maximin and the finishing of Callum Wilson.
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The way the former pulled up, he may be out just as long as the latter. He left with the match 1-0 and there was a feeling that the Magpies had better keep hold of all three points given the tightening margins near the bottom of the table. Almiron was also hurt, though he played on to halftime with the ailment, and his bright month means he’ll be missed if misses any time.
2. Neves makes the difference: The younger half of Wolves’ Portuguese central midfield duo may be the main reason the club isn’t in a relegation fight. One of the best in the business, Neves scored and was a piece of almost everything good Wolves did up north. He is undoubtedly the club’s MVP, just about Coady, Saiss, and Patricio, as Raul Jimenez’s absence has been a glaring one.
3. Fraser finds form: Ryan Fraser’s signing on a free from Bournemouth has been underwhelming up north, as injuries and ineffective play limited him to 880 minutes, a goal, and two assists across all competitions leading into Saturday’s match. The Scot subbed into the match at halftime and collected his first assist since Dec. 16 when his near-post cross was thudded home by the dome of Lascelles. Fraser’s 14 assists in the 2018-19 Premier League season was second only to Eden Hazard, but he produced just a goal and four assists in 28 matches for the Cherries last season. Probably only into the game because Almiron was dinged-up midway through the first half, he took his chance.
Man of the Match: Rui Patricio
Newcastle – Wolves recap
The early match was all Newcastle, holding the ball and working it around the Wolves third.
Isaac Hayden couldn’t get enough headed power on an early cross caught by Rui Patricio, then Miguel Almiron burst into the box and beat the keeper but not the far post.
Emil Krafth then stung a ball into the arms of Patricio before Saint-Maximin and Jonjo Shelvey combined to produce a rocket from Joelinton that the Wolves keeper palmed away for his defenders.
Newcastle thought it was 1-0 when Saint-Maximin deposited a rebound in the goal after dribbling through a sea of defenders to set up a Joe Willock shot saved initially by Patricio.
Almiron needed care from trainers after going knee-to-knee with Adama Traore in winning a 50-50 duel near the half-hour mark.
Wolves got their first chance in the 31st minute when newly-reinstalled Martin Dubravka saved a Traore header out for a corner.
Traore then set up Pedro Neto with a gorgeous pass the resulting shot was wide of the near post.
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The Magpies reasserted control out of the gates, making a change as Ryan Fraser entered for Almiron.
Fraser’s near-post cross was thudded home by Lascelles for 1-0.
Wolves got an answer when injuries forced positional changes for Newcastle, makeshift right back Isaac Hayden losing Neves for a header that Dubravka got a hand to but only put inside his own goal.
Romain Saiss made a game-saving block when Jacob Murphy cued up Joelinton for a rocket shot that beat Patricio but the tucked-in arm of the brave, goal-line tracing Moroccan defender.
Dubravka made an incredible save late to keep it 1-1, joining Saiss’ big block to produce the fixture’s traditional score.