Shropshire Star

Wolves 4 Newcastle 0 – Premier League Asia Trophy report and pictures

Diogo Jota scored twice in China as Wolves comfortably beat Newcastle 4-0 in their first official game of pre-season.


The Portuguese forward scored Wolves' first and third goals with tidy finishes from inside the box.

Morgan Gibbs-White curled in the second from the edge of the area as impressive Wolves went 3-0 up by half-time.

Newcastle's misery was complete in the closing minutes when Tom Allan headed past his own keeper from a Ruben Vinagre corner.


While the need for new signings remains pressing, winning football matches will always help calm any nervous supporters down - and on this display, Wolves look in pretty good shape.

Yes they're further ahead of Newcastle in their pre-season preparations and yes the Magpies - managerless until just 90 minutes before this game kicked off - are what you could legitimately call a crisis club - but you can only beat what's in front of you, and Wolves played far better football than their Premier League opponents, writes Tim Spiers in the Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre.

In searing heat and humidity in Nanjing, Wolves moved the ball about with intelligent and precision, producing brisk and clever movement whenever their energy levels allowed.

Amid the nervousness over a lack of signings, Nuno could still put out an XI only shorn of two of his cemented first XI from the end of last season (the injured Matt Doherty and the resting Raul Jimenez).

And as we know, Wolves have got a pretty decent team. They looked in good nick here and, while it's unwise to read too much into individual performances for a game played in an alien climate during pre-season, there were impressive displays from the two-goal Jota and the two-assist Otto.

Gibbs-White, who struggled for end product during his substitute cameos in the second half of last season, also netted a confidence-boosting goal from the edge of the box.

Adama Traore and Ruben Vinagre got the exciteable home fans on their feet with some pacey runs down the flanks, Leander Dendoncker impressed with his tenacity in midfield and Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho zipped the ball around in their usual stylish manner.

Four goals, a victory, a clean sheet and some important minutes on the pitch ahead of next Thursday's Europa League opener, then. You can't ask for much more than that.

Match report

Nuno selected the strongest XI at his disposal with Adama Traore and Morgan Gibbs-White filling in for Matt Doherty and Raul Jimenez, with Gibbs-White playing off Diogo Jota.

In an impressive stadium, the temperature (which had reached 34C and with 90 per cent humidity to boot) thankfully dropped a touch as the game got underway but the conditions were still sweltering - leading to a slow-paced start to the game as the players got to grips with their surroundings.

The stadium was about half full and the local generated a very un-English-like atmosphere, creating a buzz of excitement whenever a player sprinted past a man or got close to goal, but observing in total silence in-between.

Traore's bursts of pace were certainly being appreciated, with the home fans marvelling at his speed. There were also a few "Ashley out" chants from local fans shouting in Chinese accents directed at Newcastle's unpopular owner - the latest surreal moment in a trip full of them.

Wolves were moving the ball with more creativity and they soon began to venture forward in search of goals.

Joao Moutinho curled not too far over after a clever dummy by Gibbs-White as the game began to be played mostly in the Newcastle half.

Jota and Jonny Castro Otto were looking lively down the left and it was via those two players - who both ended 2018/19 in such sparkling form - that Wolves took the lead.

Jota turned the ball to Otto with a clever flick, the Spaniard then played inside to his team-mate before Jota, from the left of the box, drove left-footed past Karl Darlow at his near post via a slight Jamaal Lascelles deflection.

At the other end Rui Patricio, sporting a new bright orange goalkeeper kit (Wolves were in their new home kit complete with shirt sponsorship from Fosun, owing to Chinese betting sponsor regulations), had nothing to do via a regulation save.

Wolves were well on top and they doubled their lead on the half-hour mark when Gibbs-White sent a lovely finish into the bottom corner from the edge of the box. Jota was again involved, starting the move with a pass from deep before Leander Dendoncker won back possession and Otto passed to Gibbs-White for his second assist.

Gibbs-White has yet to score in a competitive game for Wolves but his tidy finish belied that fact - and Nuno will hope it's a sign of things to come.

Before half-time broken Newcastle succumbed to a third goal, of their own making. Gibbs-White played to the right flank where the rampaging Dendoncker cut the ball back into the box - it was intercepted by Isaac Hayden but he was caught napping by Jota who nicked the ball off his toes and drilled past Darlow from 12 yards for 3-0.

John Ruddy replaced Rui Patricio at half-time and the keeper's regulation save from a free-kick was the only thing of note to occur before the hour mark as the second half began at a snail's pace.

Nuno made four changes on 62 minutes - right-sided defender Dion Sanderson, Ruben Vinagre, attacking midfielder Taylor Perry and striker Niall Ennis replaced Traore, Otto, Gibbs-White and Jota.

Perry got in on the action almost immediately with his pass inside deflected past the post for a corner. From that, the ball came to Ruben Neves who sent a 25-yard daisy-cutter not far wide.

The sprightly Vinagre then tested substitute keeper Freddie Woodman with a decent effort from a tight angle on the left.

And Vinagre bagged himself an assist with the game's last proper action, with his corner being diverted past his own keeper by Newcastle youngster Tom Allan.

It had been a second half largely to forget amid a raft of substitutions, but Wolves played it solid at the back and looked for more opportunities at the other end.

Nuno will have liked what he saw.


Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio (Ruddy, 45); Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Traore (Sanderson, 62), Moutinho (Hong, 81), Neves (Taylor, 81), Dendoncker (Cundle, 81), Otto (Vinagre, 62); Gibbs-White (Perry, 62), Jota (Ennis, 62). Subs not used: Norris, Miranda, Francis, Marques, Kilman, Corbeanu Samuels.

Goals: Jota (15, 40), Gibbs-White (32), Allan (OG, 85)

Next up

Wolves will face the winner/loser of Manchester City v West Ham 6pm or 8.30pm at the Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai.

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