It was the total opposite of a Friday night classic in the North East, but Newcastle United took a huge step in their Premier League survival aspirations and crucially moved 10 points clear of the relegation zone as they ended their three-game winless run after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
But the New Zealand international was not to be denied his maiden Magpies goal at a raucous St James’ Park on 72 minutes when he was brought down inside the penalty area by Jose Sa and from the resulting spot kick, confidently sent the Portuguese keeper the wrong way in front of the Gallowgate End as Eddie Howe’s side claimed their first league win over Wolves in the top-flight since April 2011.
At the 15th time of asking this season, Newcastle finally recorded a victory against a side currently in the top half of the table after previously suffering three draws and 11 defeats.
It was a lacklustre display from Wolves who failed to register a single shot on target until the 81st minute as their European ambitions took a major blow.
Wood bags first Toon goal in black-and-white stripes
For his beloved national side, Wood became the All Whites all-time leading goalscorer with 33 goals surpassing the previous record holder Vaughan Coveny (29) as he helped his country advance as Oceania Qualifiers to June’s Intercontinental Play-Off match against Costa Rica with a Group E place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar awaiting the winners.
After the 30-year-old struck his first Magpies goal in the 2-1 win away at Southampton 29 days ago, the Kiwi striker has now grabbed his first Newcastle goal at St James’ Park and the Geordie contingent will be hoping their number 20 can finish the season strong.
He was unfortunate not to have scored twice against Bruno Lage’s team after VAR had earlier ruled out his 23rd-minute effort for a tight offside in the build-up by Guimaraes, but, with less than 20 minutes remaining, he cleverly won the spot-kick after a well-timed through ball from Joelinton and coolly dispatched his penalty past Sa.
With five league goals this season and seven games to go, Wood will be eager to reach double figures for the fifth campaign in a row.
Breathtaking Bruno dazzles under the lights
All eyes were on Guimaraes as he made his first start for The Magpies in one of two changes by Howe following the capitulation at Tottenham Hotspur last weekend and the Brazilian, who replaced the injured Joe Willock, produced an awe-inspiring man-of-the-match performance.
The 24-year-old covered every blade of grass, completed 100% of his dribbles, boasted a 90% passing accuracy, won more tackles than any of his teammates combined and won all 12 of his duels in a spellbinding display.
The Brazilian could have also rounded off his evening with a goal and assist in the second half when his inviting delivery found Allan Saint-Maximin unmarked at the back post, but the Frenchman fired his effort over the crossbar and the duo combined once more shortly after Newcastle opened the scoring but the midfielder’s strike deflected inches wide.
Guimaraes has all the attributes to succeed at Newcastle and it will come as a major surprise if he’s not included in Brazil’s World Cup squad, especially if he can keep maintaining such high standards.
Magpies take massive step in securing safety on landmark occasion
In the reverse fixture when Newcastle lost 2-1 at the beginning of October 2021, it turned out to be the last game of the Mike Ashley era and he fittingly left the club in 19th and in serious danger of relegation.
Fast forward six months under new ownership and new management, The Magpies are still yet to lose in the top-flight at home this year, are 10 points above the bottom three in 14th and Howe has now recorded four consecutive home victories for the first time as a manager.
The result also saw Newcastle claim a new record at St James’ Park - they are only the sixth club in England to win 250 Premier League matches at a single stadium reaching the accolade ahead of the likes of Arsenal and Manchester City.
But even despite a key victory over Wolves which ended a three-game winless run, Howe will be well aware that Newcastle are not mathematically safe yet and there’s still more work to be done.