EPL

Mark Knopfler sees Eddie Howe get a tune out of Newcastle against Wolves

By Sports Desk March 02, 2024

Eddie Howe managed to get a tune out of his team with rock star Mark Knopfler watching as clinical Newcastle ended Wolves’ three-game winning run.

Knopfler was at St James’ Park to unveil a charity recording of the theme from Local Hero, the song to which the Magpies run out, and witnessed a 3-0 home victory – a first in the Premier League since December 16 – courtesy of Alexander Isak’s 15th goal of the season, Anthony Gordon’s 10th and substitute Tino Livramento’s first for the club.

Head coach Howe, who had spoken of his own musical ability – or more accurately, lack of it – in the run-up to the game, came up with the perfect game-plan, sucking Wolves in by allowing them possession and then hitting them on the break in devastating fashion.

The visitors rallied late in the game, but were unable to find a way past keeper Martin Dubravka in front of a crowd of 52,206 at a wintry St James’.

Pedro Neto made an early impression as the visitors attempted to capitalise on the Magpies’ recent defensive issues, and it took a well-time challenge by Fabian Schar to halt his enterprising third-minute run into the penalty area.

As torrential rain fell from slate grey skies over Tyneside, Newcastle gradually eased into their stride, and it was they who took the lead with 14 minutes gone after Schar had picked off Rayan Ait-Nouri’s pass into the box and fed Gordon.

The frontman sprinted away down the left before finding Bruno Guimaraes, whose shot deflected off defender Craig Dawson and looped up for Isak to head home at the far post.

Dan Burn might have made it 2-0 within five minutes after linking with Gordon, but he dragged his attempt harmlessly across the face of goal.

Toti headed over after Dawson had helped Pablo Sarabia’s corner back into the danger area and with Neto menacing, the visitors were very much in the game despite repeatedly finding themselves under the cosh.

However, they fell further behind 12 minutes before the break when Schar played the ball into the feet of Joe Willock, who fed Jacob Murphy to send in a low cross which keeper Jose Sa could only palm away from Isak as he collided with team-mate Max Kilman, and Gordon supplied the finishing touch.

Wolves continued to enjoy a healthy share of the possession, but were unable to do enough with it to force their way back into the game before the break.

O’Neil replaced Sa and Neto with Daniel Bentley and Nathan Fraser before the restart and Howe saw Kieran Trippier limp off within seven minutes as Livramento stepped into the breach.

It took a superb goal-line clearance by Toti to keep out Willock’s 56th-minute diving header from Burn’s cross, but Martin Dubravka was relieved to see Jeanricner Bellegarde’s attempt loop over his bar.

Dubravka found himself at the centre of the action as he dived full-length to keep out Fraser’s skidding drive and then blocked Sarabia’s shot at the far post before plucking Bellegarde’s header out of the air.

Bentley saved at substitute Miguel Almiron’s feet after Guimaraes had turned superbly and clipped the ball into his path, but it was Livramento who sealed the win in stoppage time with a fine solo run and stabbed finish from Schar’s cultured pass.

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