WOLVERHAMPTON: An Allan-Saint-Maximin stunner rescued a point for Newcastle United at Wolverhampton Wanderers to continue the Magpies’ unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
The Frenchman, the star of the show against Manchester City the week before, was again the Magpies’ talisman as he produced some late magic to volley home the equaliser with time ticking away.
Wolves opened the scoring early on when Ruben Neves produced a goal of the month contender to give Bruno Lage’s men the advantage.
On the selection front, pre-match United were dealt a blow when news broke of an injury to Bruno Guimaraes, as well as the fact club record signing, Alexander Isak, did not receive international clearance or a work permit in time.
As a result, Chris Wood started up top, with Sean Longstaff in the middle.
While United have a well-equipped backline, bolstered immensely in the last six months with the additions of Dan Burn, Nick Pope and Sven Botman, the one thing missing is pace, and it was clear from the off the home side were looking to exploit the gaps out wide and over the top.
One such direct ball exploited that weakness and a Wolves play into the area was clipped over the bar by Pedro Neto.
United, playing for the first time in their Saudi-inspired green and white kit, dominated in terms of shots in the opening 45, but few shots troubled goalkeeper Jose Sa.
The best of all of Newcastle’s openings fell to Joe Willock, although the build up to it was not without controversy.
Sean Longstaff saw his shirt pulled in the area as he tried to work an opening, but nothing was given as the ball broke to Willock, who skewed wide from six yards when it looked easier to score.
While United had more efforts towards goal it was Wolves who were easily the more dangerous, and Goncalo Guedes went within inches of opening the scoring.
Another, this time directed down the right flank, forced skipper Kieran Trippier into an error and a ball into the box was diverted wide by the Portuguese frontman.
The opener did come on 38 minutes — and little could be done about it from a Newcastle perspective. The home side worked the ball wide to the right then teed a strike up for Neves, who crashed home from 20 yards. It was hard to say it hadn’t been coming.
United produced their best work on the break in the opening 45, with Wolves on the front foot — but for much of the second period the tables turned, with the Magpies the hunters, and Wolves the hunted.
Although, while United advanced, they struggled to really create any chances of note. Central defender Fabian Schar did threaten a leveller but his deflected effort skidded inches wide of Sa’s upright.
Knocking on the door with purpose, United made all five substitutions in search of a second-half equaliser.
They had a let on with around eight minutes to go as Raul Jimenez saw a goal chalked off for a foul in the build up. VAR, as it did last week, had a big final say in the final destination of points on the day.
It was a moment of world class — and a defensive error from Wolves — that opened the door for the Magpies.
Substitute Jacob Murphy broke down the right and when a miscleared ball dropped around 20 yards from goal, no one expected what was to come.
Saint-Maximin, shifted up front for the final stages, steadied himself and let fly on the volley, which nestled into the bottom corner of Wolves’ goal. Sa was but a spectator.
It was no less than the Magpies’ deserved, with neither side really doing enough to win a thoroughly enthralling encounter at Molineux.
And United could have won it, even if it might well have been an unfair outcome, as youngster Elliot Anderson hit the bar with a header from a corner.
The result, for now at least, sees United climb to eight in the table, and as previously mentioned, continue their unbeaten start to the campaign, which now stretches to five matches, four in the Premier League.