Wolves 1 Newcastle 1 – Report
A lack of cutting edge amid some fine saves saw Wolves have to settle for a 1-1 draw against Newcastle at Molineux.
The Magpies went ahead early on through Miguel Almiron – finding the top corner with aplomb.
Nuno Espirito Santo's charges levelled on the quarter of an hour mark through Leander Dendoncker's well-placed volley, but were unable to make the most of having the lion's share of possession from that point.
Martin Dubravka made a couple of superb saves, but the away side ended up holding on fairly comfortably.
Entering this clash having suffered successive league defeats, Wolves wanted to put on a show against Newcastle – but it did not happen.
Having come up with a swift leveller to the Magpies' early opener, Nuno's side seemed set up to go and win this encounter. And they had the chances to do it, writes Joe Edwards.
Raul Jimenez was expertly denied from point-blank range by Dubravka, and so was Pedro Neto, while Matty Longstaff cleared a Matt Doherty attempt off the line.
Wolves, though, it must be said, were not at their best.
They switched off as Steve Bruce's team broke the deadlock through Almiron. It was a crisp move, but it was enabled by a lack of pressing from the hosts.
And although Dendoncker's leveller was sharp, Wolves went on to lack a cutting edge in the final third.
Yes, they had an in-form Dubravka to contend with, but they did not ask Newcastle enough serious questions.
A young bench did not help either as Wolves lacked the options to come on and make a major impact.
So, a frustrating afternoon ended as a draw. It was not a bad performance – Wolves are still going strong in the Premier League table, of course – but it was not all that inspiring either.
In all honesty, a couple of fresh faces could do with coming in sooner rather than later as Wolves look to get back to top form.
There were no surprises in the Wolves starting line-up. Neto continued on the left side of attack in the absence of Diogo Jota, who is due to have a scan on an injury picked up in the New Year's Day defeat at Watford.
Morgan Gibbs-White, though, returned to a youthful bench, which also included Benny Ashley-Seal and Oskar Buur, after being out with a back issue since late October.
Newcastle, meanwhile, gave a start to former Albion loanee Dwight Gayle as they matched up Wolves' 3-4-3 formation.
Nuno would not have been pleased with how his charges began the clash. They were not putting enough power on their passes, and their general play was slow.
The Magpies took advantage, too. The warning signs were there just six minutes in when a short Adama Traore pass was pounced upon by Almiron – getting there ahead of Ruben Neves before going on a mazy run and seeing his attempt fly narrowly wide.
Unfortunately, the hosts failed to snuff out the danger, and Newcastle went ahead 60 seconds later as Jetro Willems raced down the left and played it to Gayle, who set up Almiron to finish. It was well-taken by the winger, but poor from a Wolves perspective.
Nuno, though, was thankful to see his men swiftly wake up from their slumber.
They wanted a penalty as Pedro Neto was clipped by Ciaran Clark in the area.
Wolves did not get one – after a VAR check – but they did win a corner, and came up with an equaliser.
Joao Moutinho's delicious out-swinging delivery was met by Dendoncker, who volleyed the ball home after escaping his marker with a sharp run. It was much more like it.
After taking an early lead, Newcastle then had two players pull up with injuries. Paul Dummett and Gayle both winced in pain and were unable to carry on.
Wolves smelled blood and were keen to capitalise on the unrest.
They almost did before the break, too. Traore wriggled free of Willems and floated a sumptuous cross to the far post.
Jimenez met it with his head and was waiting for the net to bulge. However, a magnificent save from Dubravka – sticking out his left leg – denied the Mexican. Top-drawer goalkeeping. There was a collective gasp from the stands as the replay came up on Molineux's big screens.
Wolves then had an injury scare of their own as Moutinho, making a sliding tackle, was clipped on the head by Christian Atsu.
He was able to carry on for the rest of the first half, though, and emerged for the second – to which Nuno's lot nearly made the perfect start.
Traore's immense acceleration left Willems for dead, and the Spaniard chipped the ball into the danger zone from the byline.
From there, Doherty poked the ball towards the far corner amid a crowd of bodies for what seemed another certain goal – but Longstaff was the hero this time for the Magpies, getting in position to clear off the line.
After a Dubravka wonder-save and vital goal-line clearance, Wolves were wondering what they had to do to make it 2-1.
Newcastle, meanwhile, were getting deeper by the minute and appeared quite content to hold on for the draw. They were also happy to leave a foot in, with Atsu cautioned for a late challenge on Neto as the winger tried to get a cross into the box.
Wolves were certainly seeing the lion's share of the ball – but not carving the Magpies open.
As the clock struck 70 minutes, a change could have perhaps done with being made. But with Wolves' bench so inexperienced, Nuno stuck to his guns.
Neto should have put them to the good with a header from a few yards out. Once more, though, Dubravka was there to keep it out, and shortly after, Ruben Vinagre took his compatriot's place on the left.
Wolves, though, could not find a way through and had to make do with a point. Next up is a trip to Old Trafford for an FA Cup third-round replay against Manchester United.
06 - A bit lax from Wolves as Traore plays a weak pass to Neves. Almiron steals possession and goes on a jinking run before lashing wide with his left foot from long range. Not far off, though.
07 - Goal. Newcastle are in front. Nuno's side fail to heed the warning of the previous attack from the visitors as Gayle controls the ball and plays it to Almiron, who finds the far corner. Top finish, poor defending.
15 - GOOOOOALLLLL!! Wolves are not behind for long! Moutinho whips in a peach of a corner, and Dendoncker escapes his marker to place the ball into the far corner. Fantastic delivery from the Portuguese and sharp from the Belgian.
34 - What a save! Thought that was a definite goal. A close-range header from Jimenez is, somehow, kept out by Dubravka. Traore with the cross, the keeper saving with his leg. Outstanding stop.
47 - How are Wolves not ahead? Traore breezes past Willems and puts it into the danger zone. From there, Doherty pokes the ball towards the far corner – but Longstaff clears off the line. So close.
76 - Dubravka is at it again! Neto gets his head on it at the far post, but the Newcastle keeper with amazing reflexes, again, saves the day. Neto cannot believe he has not scored.
Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Traore, Jimenez, Neto (Vinagre, 85)
Subs not used: Ruddy, Bennett, Kilman, Buur, Gibbs-White, Ashley-Seal
Goal: Dendoncker (15)
Newcastle (3-4-3): Dubravka; Clark, Fernandez (c), Dummett (Lejeune, 13); Hayden, S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Willems; Almiron, Joelinton (Carroll, 79), Gayle (Atsu, 28)
Subs not used: Darlow (gk), Watts, Ritchie, Allan
Goal: Almiron (07)
Referee: Peter Bankes (Merseyside)