Wolverhampton Wanderers thought they had recorded their first win of the Premier League season at their fourth attempt, but it wasn’t to be as Allan Saint-Maximin’s last-gasp volley saved a point for Newcastle United at Molineux.
A fabulous strike from Ruben Neves was so nearly enough for Bruno Lage, who had his captain to thank for breaking the deadlock after bemoaning his lack of central striking options pre-match.
In an even game where both sides threw caution to the win, the hosts had the better of the half-chances, whilst the visitors had the better of the possession; Allan Saint-Maximin the obvious, direct threat down the left flank.
Pedro Neto was lively throughout down the left, and he almost ghosted in to give the home side an early lead as he poked over on seven minutes, and Joe Willock had a great chance to put the Toon ahead as he sidefooted narrowly wide after a penalty box melee.
New big-money signing Matheus Nunes nodded wide after Raul Jimenez had dispossessed Kieran Trippier down the Wolves left, but Eddie Howe’s relief was short-lived as Neves delivered the goods in typical fashion, netting his 25th goal for the Black Country club: his 16th outside the area.
Chances were in shorter supply in the second half as Newcastle’s absentees – Bruno Guimaraes, Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak – looked like even bigger misses as they struggled to break down a resolute home defence.
Raul Jimenez saw his first goal of the season chalked off after Pedro Neto was adjudged to have fouled Ryan Fraser in the transitional breakaway, setting up a rather unfair three-v-one.
Wolves’ nerves were jangling as Newcastle threw the kitchen sink at them, and substitute Hwang Hee-Chan’s clearance was horrendous, landing on the right foot of Saint-Maximin, who delivered a devastating volley beyond Jose Sa to rescue a valuable point for the Magpies, extending their unbeaten run.
TALKING POINT – MAGIC (SAINT-MAXI)MAN
After all their hard work and that wonder-goal from Neves, you can forgive the home supporters for beginning to celebrate a first league win in ten.
Yet, they were pegged back by a piece of brilliance from the right boot of Allan Saint-Maximin, who delivers for the Magpies once more.
Wolves perhaps just edged this 50/50 encounter in terms of the chances, but on reflection, a defeat would have been harsh on Howe’s men, who deserved a share of the spoils after a spirited performance.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – RUBEN NEVES (WOLVES)
The oh-so-near match-winner, the Portuguese international was captain fantastic for the men in gold this afternoon.
An all-action performance from the midfielder was capped up by a trademark finish from outside the penalty box, which rocketed beyond the helpless Nick Pope.
Defensively, he was a rock: blocking every shot he could, covering every blade of grass in a dominating performance that seemingly overshadowed quieter afternoons for his compatriots Nunes and Joao Moutinho next to him in the engine room.
Wolves (4-3-3): Sa 6, Semedo 7, Collins 7, Kilman 6, Jonny 6, Nunes 6, Neves 8, Moutinho 6, Neto 7, Jimenez 6, Guedes 6, Podence 6, Hwang 5, Dendoncker 6.
Newcastle (4-3-3): Pope 6, Trippier 6, Schar 6, Botman 6, Burn 5, Willock 6, Longstaff 5, Joelinton 6, Almiron 6, Wood 6, St-Maximin 7, Targett 6, Fraser 6, Anderson 6, Murphy 6, Ritchie 6.
7′: CLOSE! A wonderful cross-field ball from Neves finds Guedes, who looks for Neto in the middle! Pope is out quickly and stops him in his tracks as the ball just loops over the bar.
12′: CLOSE! There’s a melee in the area after the Trippier long throw and an alleged Nunes shirt pull on Longstaff, and the ball falls for Willock, who sidefoots wide!
26′: CLOSE! Jimene dispossesses Trippier and delivers a pinpoint cross for Nunes at the far post! He gets the header all wrong, and it stays goalless!
38′: GOALLLL!!!! What a fabulous strike, from guess who? Ruben Neves fires Wolves into the lead, with a fantastic effort from range. Neto cut inside off the right, Guees laid if off, and the number eight took a touch, and fired it inside Pope’s near post.
81′: GOALLL!!! Game, set and match! Raul Jimenez is back in business in the Premier League, and Newcastle complain about an alleged foul on Fraser in the build-up by Pedro Neto, which set up a three v one breakaway scenario, with Neto putting the ball on a plate for the Mexican to slide home. // 83′: NO GOAL! It’s ruled out due to the foul on Fraser by Neto!
90′: GOALLL!!!! They’ve done it, Allan Saint-Maximin with a stupendous volley from the loose ball! Wow!
90+7′: OFF THE BAR! An Anderson header crashes off the woodwork!