Newcastle United 2 Wolves 0
- Andy Woolmer
A Matt Ritchie strike and a stunning Yoan Gouffran volley gave Newcastle United a 2-0 EFL Cup win over Wolves
By Tom Easterby - Newcastle United Club Reporter
At St. James' Park
Newcastle United 2 (Ritchie 29, Gouffran 31)
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Both goals came in the first half at St. James' Park, as Ritchie coolly slotted home the deadlock-breaker just before the half hour before laying on the second for Gouffran two minutes later.
The former Bordeaux winger's spectacular effort in front of a crowd of over 34,000 was the game's eye-catching moment, as Rafa Benitez's side progressed at the expense of the team who had beaten them by the same scoreline in the Sky Bet Championship just three days previously.
Benitez made eight changes to his line-up for United's second encounter with Wolves in quick succession, with forward Daryl Murphy and full back Achraf Lazaar both making their debuts for the club, and Karl Darlow taking over from Matz Sels in between the posts.
A series of Ritchie corners in the opening minutes allowed Newcastle to start on the front foot, with Republic of Ireland international Murphy making his presence felt. A Mo Diame cross almost found Ritchie arriving at the far post, but Manchester United loanee Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was well placed to head it behind for another corner as the hosts began brightly.
Walter Zenga, like Benitez, made eight changes to his team after they won 2-0 on Tyneside on Saturday, and two of those changes combined to create Wolves' first real opening. Joe Mason robbed Lazaar on the left and delivered enticingly for Paul Gladon, but Grant Hanley timed his challenge to perfection to avert the danger.
Then, midway through the half, Wolves skipper Conor Coady threaded a pass through to Mason, whose deft flick released Jed Wallace. One-on-one with Darlow, the midfielder tried to place his shot low to the United keeper's left, but Darlow proved equal to it, keeping it out on his second outing of the season.
But just when the visitors were beginning to feel their way into the tie, Ritchie struck. DeAndre Yedlin retrieved a cross down the right and cut the ball back for Jack Colback, who played in the Scottish international on the right of the box. From there, Ritchie strode forwards towards goal before dispatching low beyond the reach of Andy Lonergan for the opener.
And two minutes later, just after the half hour, they made it two. Ritchie advanced down the right and sent a cross into the area, where Yoan Gouffran was poised at the far post. When Ritchie's centre cleared Diame in the middle, the Frenchman ran on to it, thundering his left-footed volley into the roof of the net in stunning fashion.
Zenga sent on Ola John in place of Joao Teixeira at the break as Wolves sought a way back into the contest, but just three minutes into the half United almost made it three. Diame, yet to get off the mark since his summer move from Hull City, went agonisingly close to a beautifully-crafted first strike in black and white, delicately chipping the ball over Lonergan, only to see his effort come back off the woodwork.
And Gouffran could have buried the rebound, but he lashed the opportunity for his second of the night high over the crossbar.
Firmly in the ascendancy, Benitez's charges pushed forward in search of more. Ritchie - a constant threat down the right - saw a powerful drive charged down, as did Shelvey, while Colback pulled a low drive wide from the edge of the box. Diame tried his luck too - his left-footed shot skipped up off the surface and into the arms of Lonergan.
In another attack, Ciaran Clark, who was solid all evening alongside Hanley at centre half, found Diame in space, but he couldn't quite direct his curling attempt on target.
But Wolves showed signs of life shortly after the changes, with a substitute of their own, Ola John, charging into the box and drawing a save from Darlow, who rushed off his line to block.
That, though, proved to be just a fleeting moment of danger, and though Perez did attempt to extend the lead with an ambitious overhead kick and debutant Murphy fired over, Ritchie and Gouffran's clinical finishes were enough to send the Magpies through.
Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Karl Darlow; DeAndre Yedlin, Ciaran Clark, Grant Hanley, Achraf Lazaar; Jack Colback, Jonjo Shelvey (c); Matt Ritchie (Jamaal Lascelles 86), Mohamed Diame (Ayoze Perez 72), Yoan Gouffran (Christian Atsu 74); Daryl Murphy
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-3-3): Andy Longeran; Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, Kortney Hause, Dominic Iorfa, Silvio; George Saville, Conor Coady (c), Joao Teixeira (Ola John 46); Jed Wallace (Jon Dadi Bodvarsson 78), Paul Gladon, Joe Mason (Jack Price 62)
Subs not used: Carl Ikeme, Danny Batth, Matt Doherty, Prince Oniangue
Referee: Andy Woolme
Attendance: 34, 735