St. James' Park
Barclays Premier League
By Anthony Marshall, at St. James' Park.....
Newcastle United 4 (Nolan 22, Ameobi 45, Lovenkrands 50, Gutierrez 90)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 (Ebanks-Blake 58)
Newcastle secured three huge Premier League points with a 4-1 victory over Wolves at St. James' Park.
And although Sylvan Ebanks-Blake pulled one back for Wolves midway through the second period, Jonas Gutierrez hit a late fourth as United held firm for only their fifth home league win of the campaign.
An opening presented itself inside the first 30 seconds, when goalkeeper Steve Harper's long punt forward was misjudged by the Wolves defence. Peter Lovenkrands raced in behind but was inches away from connecting before it ran through to Wayne Hennessey.
And the host went even closer in the fifth minute. After Joey Barton had been scythed down in the middle of the park by George Elokobi - for which the Wolves man was booked - centre-back Mike Williamson met the resulting free-kick with a diving header, forcing Hennessey into a fine stop at his near post.
In the 16th minute another foul on Barton led to another United opening. The midfielder dusted himself off to send a pin-point delivery into the danger area from the right flank, where captain Kevin Nolan connected, but could only nod straight at Hennessey.
And the deserved breakthrough finally arrived on 22 minutes through Nolan's 12th goal of the season. Ameobi rose head and shoulders above the Wolves defence to flick on a header, and Nolan escaped his marker before providing the coolest of finishes from close range, prodding home.
Newcastle were well aware that one goal wouldn't be enough to see off Mick McCarthy's side, and Barton curled a free-kick over from 25 yards, while Lovenkrands directed a header just off target from another Barton corner.
As the game threatened to boil over before half-time, both Ameobi and Nolan went into Mike Dean's notebook - and Nolan's 10th booking of the campaign means he will now miss the forthcoming Premier League games against Aston Villa and Manchester United.
Harper was called into serious action for the first time a minute before the break when he got down well to smother Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's header, but the Magpies promptly went up the other end and doubled their advantage.
Gutierrez seized on some sloppy Wolves defensive play before playing in Lovenkrands wide on the left, and the Dane's delivery to the far post was met by a towering header from Ameobi, who crashed it past Hennessey, with the keeper getting a hand to it but unable to keep it out.
There was no let-up from United after the break either as they went close to adding goals three and four within 90 seconds of the restart. First, Barton was denied by a superb point-blank Hennessey stop, after Ameobi had squared into his path. And then Lovenkrands rounded the Wolves stopper but, from a tight angle, could only place his shot against the upright before the visitors scrambled clear.
But it was finally 3-0 in the 50th minute thanks to a superb team move. Centre-back Fabricio Coloccini somehow found himself wide on the right and used a fantastic bit of skill to evade his marker before slipping in Barton down the right. The midfielder's cross was low and found Lovenkrands unmarked six yards out to provide a simple finish.
By this point Wolves had rarely threatened and loanee Jamie O'Hara failed to hit the target from a 25-yard free-kick in a dangerous position, which was curled well over the top. However, they snatched a lifeline in the 58th minute through Ebanks-Blake.
England international Matt Jarvis raced down the left flank and his cut-back was met by the striker, who side-footed past the despairing grasp of Harper.
It should have been 3-2 only a minute later as substitute Stephen Fletcher's wayward finishing gave Newcastle an almighty let-off, with the unmarked Scot somehow failing to hit the target from just a couple of yards at the far post.
At the other end, Lovenkrands stung the palms of Hennessey with a swerving long range effort, but the home side suddenly found themselves on the backfoot as Wolves' goal gave them the momentum.
Cross after cross was swung into the Newcastle box, and substitute James Perch did well to head Ebanks-Blake's header off the line, before a flurry of bodies blocked O'Hara's follow-up. And from then on it was a case of shutting up shop as the immense central defensive pairing of Coloccini and Mike Williamson dealt with absolutely everything that was thrown at them.
But it was left to Jonas Gutierrez to have the final say for the hosts deep into stoppage time. The Argentine international capped an impressive personal display with an outstanding goal as he received the ball from Steven Taylor before racing inside and curling an effort from distance past the helpless Hahnemann.
Newcastle United (4-4-2): Steve Harper; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Shane Ferguson (James Perch 58); Joey Barton (Steven Taylor 89), Danny Guthrie, Kevin Nolan (c), Jonas Gutierrez; Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands (Nile Ranger 68)
Subs not used: Tim Krul, James Tavernier, Sol Campbell, Shefki Kuqi
Wolves (4-5-1): Wayne Hennessey; Kevin Foley, Richard Stearman, Christophe Berra, George Elokobi (Stephen Ward 81); Adam Hammill (Michael Kightly 53), Nenad Milijas (Stephen Fletcher 30), Karl Henry (c), Jamie O'Hara, Matt Jarvis; Sylvan Ebanks-Blake
Subs not used: Marcus Hahnemann, Jody Craddock, Michael Mancienne, David Jones
Referee: Mike Dean
Attendance: 49,939 (2,800 Wolves fans)