VAR Drama and Late Goal Heroics: Newcastle Secure 2-1 Win Over Wolves! Newcastle’s Champions League hopes were boosted by Miguel Almiron’s goal 11 minutes from time as the Magpies defeated Wolves 2-1.
Nine of the previous 15 meetings between these two teams had ended in a 1-1 draw, and it appeared to be heading in that direction again after Wolves substitute Hee-Chan Hwang cancelled out Alexander Isak’s first-half opener with 20 minutes remaining.
But, with Wolves clinging to a point, substitute Almiron – who had been brought on to replace Callum Wilson – played a neat one-two with Joe Willock before curling a shot into the far corner.
However, there was a VAR controversy before that, as Nick Pope was spared a potential penalty and red card after colliding with Raul Jimenez in the first half.
Referee Andy Madley and VAR Tony Harrington chose not to dismiss Pope and award a penalty kick, with the Newcastle goalkeeper making several keys saves to keep the visitors out for the remainder of the game.
What happened when the subs took over at St James’?
Both teams had struggled for goals entering this game, but they began confidently, despite creating no clear-cut chances in a frantic first 20 minutes.
Pope deflected Joao Moutinho’s free-kick before Kieran Trippier’s own set-piece from the edge of the box went straight into the Wolves wall.
Then came the contentious moment. Pope took Dan Burn’s back pass a little too confidently, allowing Jimenez to nip in ahead of him and stride towards the goal.
There was a tangle of legs as the Wolves striker attempted to move past the Newcastle goalkeeper, but referee Madley waved away the visitors’ penalty claims. The official’s decision was found to be free of obvious flaws by VAR.
Newcastle took the lead six minutes later, compounding the Wolves’ woes. Trippier’s free-kick delivery from the wide right found Isak at the front post, and the Swedish striker finished with a superb glancing header into the far corner.
Wolves, likely injured as a result of the alleged injustice, struggled to keep up with the high-flying Magpies. Willock headed wide just seconds after Isak’s opener, and Bruno Guimaraes hit the crossbar from close range after Burn cleared Trippier’s deep corner.
Wolves almost hit the woodwork themselves, with Daniel Podence cutting inside from the left and rasping a drive into Pope’s near post.
Wolves improved significantly after the break, with Ruben Neves shooting wide before half-time substitute Pedro Neto stinging Pope’s palms with a fizzing free-kick.
Jose Sa saved another free-kick from Trippier, and Neves blazed over from inside the area when the ball sat up nicely for him at the other end.
Julen Lopetegui, manager of the Wolves, made three substitutions, including the introduction of Hwang, who scored 57 seconds later.
The South Korean forward broke into the Newcastle box, and as Trippier attempted to clear from Jimenez’s feet, the right-back slipped over, with Pope also looking for the ball. Hwang’s task was simple: tap home into an empty net.
But it was Almiron, who came on shortly after Hwang, who had the last laugh, as his quick interchange with Willock saw him enter the right side of the box with a clear sight of goal. Nobody in St James’ Park expected the net to bulge as soon as the strike left his boot.
Sven Botman blazed over from close range after Almiron’s mazy run, and there could have been a third late in the game. However, a third goal was not required as Newcastle returned to winning ways after three consecutive 2-0 defeats.