NEWCASTLE, England (AP)Miguel Almiron came off the bench to reignite Newcastle’s Champions League qualification ambitions with the clinching goal in a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton in the Premier League on Sunday.
Newcastle looked like extending its winless run in the league to six games when Wolves substitute Hwang Hee-chan canceled out Alexander Isak’s first-half opener at St. James’ Park.
Wolves’ players were convinced Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope should have picked up a second red card in three games after a clumsy first-half challenge on Raul Jimenez, and Almiron’s 11th goal of the season only rubbed salt into the wound.
It was just a second win in nine league outings for Newcastle to climb above Liverpool into fifth place.
Newcastle is four points behind fourth-place Tottenham and has two games in hand.
Wolves gradually worked their way into the game as Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves made their presence felt in midfield. The visitors saw concerted appeals for a 20th-minute penalty – and perhaps more – waved away after Pope miscontrolled Sven Botman’s back pass and collided with Jimenez as he attempted to recover.
The striker was bundled to the ground in the process, but referee Andy Madley was unmoved and VAR official Tony Harrington saw no reason to ask him to look again.
Wolves’ disappointment increased within six minutes when, after Fabian Schar had been fouled by Jimenez, Kieran Trippier curled the resulting free kick onto Isak’s head and he sent the ball past goalkeeper Jose Sa.
Only a desperate lunge by Craig Dawson prevented Joe Willock from doubling the lead two minutes later following Isak’s determined run and Max Kilman had to be equally resilient to deny Isak once again.
Willock, Isak and Saint-Maximin all saw shots blocked in quick succession and Bruno Guimaraes headed against the crossbar from Dan Burn’s pull-back as the Magpies laid siege to Sa’s goal. At the other end, Pope was grateful to see Daniel Podence’s 39th-minute strike come back off the foot of his right post six minutes before the break.
In the second half, Tripper was denied by Sa and Neves skied an effort high over as the game continued at breakneck speed, and Pope had to intervene to keep out Moutinho’s 64th-minute shot.
Trippier’s game took a turn for the worse with 20 minutes remaining when he slipped as he attempted to clear inside his own penalty area. With Pope having left his line in an attempt to snuff out the danger, that presented the ball to Hwang to slide into the empty net.
Almiron scored with 11 minutes remaining when he exchanged passes with Willock before curling a shot across Sa and into the net with the help of a touch off Kilman.
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