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Season 2018-19
Wolverhampton Wanderers (h) Premier League


Sunday 9th December 2018, 4.00pm
Live on Sky Sports

 St. James' Park

Conditions: galling

Newcastle United


1 - 2




17 mins A hopeful ball into the box by Helder Costa found Jota totally unmarked but onside and he had plenty of time to control and fire past Martin Dubravka from close range. 0-1

23 mins Salomon Rondon stepped up and hit a wonderful free-kick that smacked off the bar and down onto the line before being cleared but seconds later Rondon delivered a fine cross from the right into the box that Ayoze Perez flicked past Rui Patricio and into the Gallowgate net.

As he had against Watford, the scorer's celebration was to stick his fingers in his ears - making reference to the negative reaction from some home fans, which manifested itself again in the previous home game against West Ham in the form of ironic cheers when he was replaced.

Half time: Magpies 1 Wolves 1

90+4 mins
Perez got caught in possession deep in Wolves territory and Jota was able to charge unchallenged up to our box before Dubravka saved his shot, only for Matt Doherty to head the rebound from close range into the unguarded net. Why no-one managed to challenge - or foul - Jota as he strode forward is something only the Newcastle players can answer. 1-2

Full time: Magpies 1 Wolves 2

We Said


Rafa Benitez:

"We need VAR right now.

"So if you see the incidents today. It's so obvious - the red card and the elbow in the face of Ayoze Perez. We need the VAR right now.

"The ball was far away and he was close enough to see it was not a clear chance.

"You can guarantee to me that the player in the corner of the box can score in the top corner every time? It cannot be a red card. We have lost three points today and we deserve to win.

"He (Jota) was pulling him and he (Yedlin) was pulling him - but I don't want to talk about that as it's so obvious. I think the team was doing well enough to win the game - it's very difficult in these situations.

"I don't want to talk about the referees as it's wrong - but it's so clear from the pictures. It's a pity as you have a city behind the team, these situations can kill your confidence.

About the elbow on Perez:

"I will not talk about that - it's so obvious everyone can see. The fourth official said nothing. Iím wasting my time when you try and talk in a polite way. 

"It was a elbow in the face. He was bleeding. It was so obvious."

They Said


Nuno Espirito Santo said: 

"I think we didn't do the best of performances. In the second half everything changes with the red card of Newcastle, we control the game. And we had more possession. Trying to find a way is not so easy to unblock a team with one man less. 

"We were lucky in the end, we had chances before, but in the last minute to get a second ball from the goalkeeper. We were lucky, but happy of course.

"A draw was clearly the right result. The red card changes the game. We were lucky to beat them in the end. Don't always ask me about the referee please, it's a tough job.

On the red card:

"It's too difficult for me to judge because I'm on the other side of the pitch. What I felt was that it was a hold and I thought Diogo was one on one with the goalkeeper."

On the elbow:

"It's a clear elbow on Ayoze but from my point of view he (Boly) jumps for the ball, he doesn't see him so it's not intentional. For me that was a dispute of the ball. 

"Don't always ask me about the referee. I know it's a tough job. Let these questions for another person.
You are always asking me about the referee. Sometimes he gives you, sometimes he takes you but I truly believe he is always deciding what he sees. 

"Let's not take credit from our victories and Newcastle cannot always ask questions of the referee.

"Credit to Newcastle, all my respects to Rafa, I really admire him as a coach.

"I think it's a tough job even if you lose or win, let's focus on our task which is to manage and to coach teams. Let the referees do their jobs."


It's now 150 successive Premier League games since Newcastle played with a numerical advantage due to their opponents having a player dismissed.  That was when two Stoke City players were sent off during their game at SJP on Boxing Day 2013.

It's now 145 successive Premier League games since Newcastle saw an opponent dismissed, when Norwich City's Bradley Johnson was sent off at Carrow Road in January 2014. United's Loic Remy was also dismissed during the same incident meaning it was 10 vs 10.

DeAndre Yedlin's dismissal was the 18th for a Newcastle player in the PL since that incident at Norwich (two of those 18 were subsequently over-turned).

Ayoze Perez scored his 36th competitive goal for the club and his 23rd in the Premier League. That takes him ahead of Laurent Robert and into joint eleventh place with Kieron Dyer on our all time PL list. Perez requires three more goals to match Michael Owen in tenth.

The Magpies scored a seventh Premier League home goal this season - and the sixth headed effort. The only exception was Salomon Rondon's shot to open the scoring against Bournemouth.

That's now seven defeats from their opening nine home league games for United - the club record in a 38 game PL season (ie 19 home games) is nine set in 2012/13.

Wolves in Toon - last 10:

2018/19: lost 1-2 Perez
lost 0-2
2011/12: drew 2-2 Cisse, Gutierrez
2010/11: won 4-1 Nolan, Shola Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Gutierrez
2003/04: drew 1-1 Bowyer
1992/93: won 2-1 Kelly 2
1991/92: lost 1-2 og(Madden)
1990/91: drew 0-0
1989/90: lost 1-4 Brock
1982/83: drew 1-1 Wharton




Rafa Benitez may have been left cursing the ineptitude of the referee after a tumultuous afternoon on Tyneside, but yet another home defeat saw familiar questions about his squad resurface.

Egotistical whistler Mike Dean has blighted our existence for over 18 years and once again took centre stage in front of the Sky cameras. The first moment of controversy came just before the hour mark with the score at 1-1, DeAndre Yedlin shown a straight red after losing possession and pulling back Diogo Jota outside the box (although there was initial tug on the defender's shirt).

That decision went down badly on the home bench, but that was nothing to the consternation ten minutes from time caused by a clear elbow into the face of Ayoze Perez from Willy Bolly.

Dean remained unmoved and instead of a penalty waved play on, allowing Wolves to almost score at the other end. The pompous official then walked 70 yards back up the pitch before allowing the trainer on to treat a head wound, making Perez leave the field which left United down to nine men.

He also reportedly told the Spaniard - who was bleeding - that the ball had caused the damage.

The referee showed no fewer than seven yellow cards, although in doing so failed to properly punish the visitors' blatant fouling that saw them offend from behind time and time again.

Tempting though it is to continue in this vein, the fact remains that Dean wasn't at fault for the slack defending that allowed Wolves to take 17th minute lead when Jota was left totally unmarked and had plenty of time to control the ball before firing past goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

It's also difficult to pin the blame on the official for Newcastle's tendency to needlessly pass the ball backwards and sideways that was ultimately to prove Yedlin's downfall. Dean may also have been cheesed off with the Spaniard's familiar "cry wolf" behaviour earlier in the game and less well disposed towards him as a consequence when he tumbled in the box. Asking for trouble x 2.

Ironically it took the elbow in the face to make Perez play with more aggression in the closing moments, although that also led to a forward run that prompted Wolves to break and win it. 

Having started well, going behind provoked a response from the hosts and they won free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the 'D' when Perez was hauled over by Ryan Bennett. 

Salomon Rondon stepped up and hit a wonderful effort that smacked off the bar and down onto the line before being cleared. The ball reappeared with Rondon though and he delivered a fine cross that Perez headed past Rui Patricio and into the Gallowgate net.

After a scrappy opening to the second half, going down to ten men theoretically made United's task that much harder, but
it could be argued that in fact it simplified matters - replicating their away game mentality seemingly more achievable than taking the initiative when they had eleven men. 

The trick of picking out target man Rondon is an obvious one but like shooting, we're not particularly adept at it. The positioning of players for knock downs was sub-standard and the quality of our crosses remains patchy - the best one of the day coming from the Venezuelan for United's goal.

Raul Jimenez crashed an effort against the bar that had beaten Dubravka as Wolves remained content to break upfield rather than camp in our half, although their passing become noticeably slicker in the closing stages as the inevitable gaps began to appear in home ranks. 

A draw seemed increasingly inevitable following the Perez incident - and Wolves narrowly failing to score from on the break. 12 months on from celebrating the clubs' 125th birthday by conceding a late winner here against Leicester though, we repeated that feat to mark our 126th anniversary.

Making his second start of the week and looking all the better for it, Christian Atsu was deployed infield of left winger Matt Ritchie as United went with a 3-5-1-1 formation. While the former Scottish international seemed industrious though, he was ultimately irrelevant. 

Of Jacob Murphy there was no sign, going from a starting place at Everton in midweek to not even making it into the squad. Kenedy's late introduction meanwhile was counter productive, given his unwillingness to track opponents when not in possession. Aside from his goal at Old Trafford, he's given a passable impression of someone increasingly indifferent to his fate this season.

We've given both Everton and Wolves a game this week, but guts and brawn aren't always enough, especially on home turf when struggle to take the initiative. Approaching the half way point in our season, the story so far in 2018/19 is that if we don't score first, our goose is usually cooked. 

Pre-Christmas fixtures against Huddersfield Town and Fulham look season-defining at this point, but the uncertainty over ownership of the club makes the arrival of reinforcements in January look less and less likely - especially given that unlike last season, our loan quota has been filled. 

We'll end with a quote from our match report of 12 months ago, as nowt much has changed:

New ideas, new enthusiasm, new hope and a new custodian are desperately needed to end this damaging impasse. Without that Rafa is wasting his time, and so are we. 


Page last updated 12 December, 2018