Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Newcastle United 1
- Graham Scott
Willy Boly’s late, late leveller denied Newcastle United a valuable victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Isaac Hayden’s second-half strike looked to have earned the Magpies an impressive three-point haul against Nuno Espírito Santo’s high-flying side, only for Boly to intervene at the death.
United had looked largely assured at the back after taking the lead but, deep into stoppage time, Boly rose high to nod home Adama Traore’s searching cross at the back post.
It was Newcastle who created the first opportunity of the game. Ayoze Pérez cleverly lifted the ball over the top of the Wolves backline and into the path of Salomón Rondón, who just about managed to work enough room to shoot before testing Rui Patrício with a low-struck effort.
The home supporters were incensed just after the quarter of an hour mark, when Raul Jiménez tumbled inside the penalty area under pressure from Christian Atsu. Referee Graham Scott waved away the hosts’ protests for a spot kick, with replays showing that he was right to do so, United’s Ghanaian wide-man having clearly made contact with the ball.
Wolves started to enjoy more of the ball as the first half wore on but found the Magpies’ five-man backline a tough nut to crack. Florian Lejeune produced an important block as Jiménez let fly 25 minutes in, before Rúben Neves curled over the top from distance during the same phase of play.
Rondón called Patrício into action once more before the break, though his headed attempt proved an easy take for the Portuguese ‘keeper. Just seconds later, Patrício’s counterpart, Martin Dúbravka, did well to keep a hold of Jonny Castro’s fierce effort from the edge of the penalty area with the Magpies struggling to clear their lines following a Wolves set-piece.
Early into the second half, Matt Doherty – Wolves’ match-winner in the reverse fixture at St. James’ Park – nodded over the top from deep inside the penalty area after Diogo Jota flicked a corner into the wing back’s path. It was a fine chance – arguably the home side’s best of the game at that point – and they were punished ten minutes later.
The Magpies took a throw on the left flank quickly after a stray pass from Patrício. They worked the ball across the middle and into the path of Fabian Schär, who took a couple of strides forward before playing in Hayden, who had taken up a position on the right of the area. The midfielder allowed the ball to run a little before taking aim and beating Patrício – who, in truth, ought to have done better.
Jota quickly let fly as Wolves looked for a response, but Dúbravka stood firm between the posts. With just less than 20 minutes remaining, Rafa Benítez introduced Almirón for his Magpies bow, and the Paraguayan international was quick to look for the ball and put himself about.
As would have been expected, though, the home side continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession, and they came close to an equaliser through Jiménez. Ivan Cavaleiro’s cross from the left was met by another substitute, Traoré, whose deflected volley fell kindly for the frontman. However, he was unable to keep his header on target from six yards.
Santo’s troops kept knocking at the door, though, and – just as they did on Tyneside back in December – they hit the Magpies with a late sucker punch. Traore’s delivery – having looked set to swerve out of play – just kept the right side of the line, and Boly managed to meet the ball before a despairing Dúbravka to earn the hosts a share of the spoils.