A 72nd-minute penalty from Chris Wood earned Newcastle a 1-0 win at home to Wolves on Friday night.
The Magpies snapped a run of three straight losses in the Premier League to move ten points clear of the drop zone, while Bruno Lage’s men missed the chance to climb into the top six.
A first half of extremely low quality saw Miguel Almiron – who came on as a 12th-minute substitute for Ryan Fraser – have the first half decent sight of goal after Bruno Guimaraes’ wonderful ball over the top of the Wolves defence, but the Paraguayan couldn’t keep his half-volley down.
Newcastle thought they had taken the lead soon after with a rather scrappy goal. Guimaraes again picked out Almiron, with the sub neatly flicking it back into the Brazilian’s path and then rolling the ball across goal for Chris Wood to tap in after a mix-up between Willy Boly and Jonny. However, Guimaraes was offside in the build-up and the goal was ruled out after a VAR check.
Referee Peter Bankes mercifully brought an end to a first half that petered out with a whimper after 48 minutes – neither side managed to register a shot on target and accumulated 0.14 expected goals between them.
After the break, Fabian Schar’s lofty free-kick was knocked on by Wood and into the path of Dan Burn, but the lanky centre-back was unable to get a clean strike away.
At the other end, Hwang Hee-Chan carved out Wolves’ first half-chance of the night by cutting inside Emil Krafth, but the Swedish defender recovered in time to block the South Korean’s shot from the edge of the box.
A Joao Moutinho cross through the six-yard box just evaded Conor Coady and Fabio Silva as Wolves finally began to throw more than a couple of bodies forward, while Allan Saint-Maximin twice fired into row Z of the Gallowgate End on the break.
The French attacker then drilled a cross-cum-shot right across the face of goal as the Magpies sought to take back control in a match crying out for an ounce of quality.
Newcastle were awarded a penalty 20 minutes from time when Saint-Maximin’s neat turn released Joelinton and he in turn played through Wood, who was brought down under little contact (though contact nonetheless) by the onrushing Jose Sa.
The New Zealand international stepped up and made no mistake from the spot to give the hosts a precious lead.
Eddie Howe’s side came close to a second when Saint-Maximin teed up Guimaraes, but the retreating Moutinho got a crucial touch to deflect his shot behind for a corner.
Fabio Silva was unable to keep his header from Marcal’s high cross on target, but his snapshot moments later forced Martin Dubravka into a low save.
Joelinton forced Sa into one final save after Boly failed to clear a long ball into the Wolves area and Newcastle held on to return to winning ways.
Martin Dubravka (GK) – 6/10 – God only knows how bored Dubravka was tonight.
Emil Krafth (RB) – 5/10 – Picked up a cut early in the game but soldiered on. Otherwise untroubled.
Fabian Schar (CB) – 5/10 – Couldn’t replicate his free-kick glory from last week’s loss at Spurs. Looked leggy in the second half.
Dan Burn (CB) – 7/10 – Not bothered at all.
Matt Targett (LB) – 6/10 – One of Newcastle’s most creative sparks though the bar wasn’t very high for him to clear.
Jonjo Shelvey (CM) – 6/10 – Played several balls over the top but not many of them found their intended target.
Bruno Guimaraes (CM) – 9/10 – His accuracy was better than Shelvey’s and he was crucial in everything positive Newcastle did.
Joelinton (CM) – 6/10 – Worked hard and kept things simple in midfield.
Ryan Fraser (RW) – N/A – Hauled off early on after picking up a muscle injury.
Chris Wood (CF) – 7/10 – Denied a really scruffy first-half goal but won and converted the decisive penalty
Allan Saint-Maximin (LW) – 7/10 – Scarcely made right decisions but was involved enough that he made a positive impact for his side.
Miguel Almiron (12′, RW for Fraser) – 5/10 – At least he tried to be inventive and got shots away.
Sean Longstaff (88′, CM for Guimaraes) – N/A
Jacob Murphy (90+5, LW for Saint-Maximin) – N/A
Jose Sa (GK) – 3/10 – A solid performance between the sticks was undone by a moment of madness when he rushed into Wood.
Willy Boly (CB) – 3/10 – Looked very ropey from the off.
Conor Coady (CB) – 5/10 – Stood tall and dealt with most of what the hosts threw his way.
Max Kilman (CB) – 3/10 – Gave away possession so easily on a number of occasions and did not look confident.
Jonny (RWB) – 4/10 – Very wasteful but he wasn’t the only culprit.
Luke Cundle (CM) – 3/10 – Was caught like a deer in headlights in the opening exchanges and subsequently played a safe and unadventurous game.
Joao Moutinho (CM) – 5/10 – Tried to make things tick but was let down by teammates not on the same wavelength.
Marcal (LWB) – 3/10 – Off the pace and out of touch with his peers.
Francisco Trincao (RW) – 3/10 – A couple of moments of trickery did not make up for a quiet 78 minutes.
Fabio Silva (CF) – 2/10 – Still doesn’t resemble anything close to a Premier League striker.
Hwang Hee-Chan (LW) – 3/10 – Did not make the most of his chance on a rare start in place of the injured Daniel Podence.
Pedro Neto (78′, LW for Hwang) – 5/10
Chem Campbell (78′, RW for Trincao) – 4/10
Rayan Ait-Nouri (86′, LWB for Marcal) – N/A