The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Scott Wil­son

HAV­ING watched his side con­cede four goals on their own ground last Tues­day, Wal­ter Zenga chal­lenged his play­ers to pro­duce “a re­sponse” when they trav­elled to New­cas­tle. He can­not have imag­ined their an­swer would be quite as em­phatic.

Last week’s 4-0 home de­feat to Barns­ley was a dis­tant mem­ory as Wolves out­classed New­cas­tle from start to fin­ish, with a firsthalf own goal from Chan­cel Mbe­mba and a sec­ond-half strike from Helder Costa the very least the vis­i­tors de­served for their ef­forts.

New­cas­tle were un­recog­nis­able from the side that had trounced QPR at Lof­tus Road four days ear­lier, with Vurnon Anita’s late dis­missal prov­ing the fi­nal ig­nominy as Rafa Ben­itez’s side crashed to their first de­feat since the sec­ond week­end of the sea­son – and ended their five-match run of not con­ced­ing.

New­cas­tle were wretched, but that shouldn’t de­tract from the qual­ity of Wolves’ per­for­mance, with Jon Dadi Bod­vars­son lead­ing the line im­pres­sively and Moroc­can Ro­main Saiss star­ring as he made his de­but.

“We pre­pared for this game to show that the last 15 min­utes of the last game was an ac­ci­dent, some­thing that can hap­pen in foot­ball,” said Wolves boss Wal­ter Zenga.

“We have to fol­low the phi­los­o­phy that what is done is done, and we have to con­tinue to have con­fi­dence in our job.

“Here in the Cham­pi­onship, you play Satur­day, Tues­day, Satur­day, Tues­day, so it is very im­por­tant to re­act in the right way. This was what ev­ery­body wanted to see – the play­ers wanted to see a re­ac­tion for them­selves.

“The spirit of the team, and the way they ap­proached and started the game, was a big an­swer to ev­ery­body.

“Play­ing in this sta­dium, in front of 52,000 fans, and play­ing against a team that had had five vic­to­ries in a row, the ap­proach was al­ways go­ing to be very im­por­tant. We had to give somePerez thing back to the fans, and I am sure they are sat­is­fied with the per­for­mance and the re­sult.”

Wolves’ dom­i­nance was ap­par­ent from the off, and the vis­i­tors came within inches of claim­ing a ninth-minute lead as Bod­vars­son’s ris­ing drive clipped the top of the cross­bar.

Karl Ikeme was forced to pro­duce a fine save to pre­vent Ay­oze scor­ing mid­way through the first half, but New­cas­tle de­servedly fell be­hind shortly be­fore the half-hour mark. Bod­vars­son crossed from the right, and de­spite be­ing un­der min­i­mal pres­sure, Mbe­mba ar­rowed a div­ing header into his own net.

Wolves dou­bled their lead mid­way through the sec­ond half, with Perez con­ced­ing pos­ses­sion cheaply in his own half and Costa curl­ing a deft fin­ish into the bot­tom left-hand cor­ner.

Alek­san­dar Mitro­vic wasted New­cas­tle’s best chance as he shot straight at Ikeme af­ter rac­ing clear, and Anita was dis­missed with three min­utes left fol­low­ing a mist­imed chal­lenge on Ivan Cavaleiro.

“I was not ex­pect­ing to start the game in the way we did,” said New­cas­tle boss Ben­itez.

“Some­times you can have bad luck, but we started the game mak­ing mis­take af­ter mis­take. We had con­trol, but we gave them the op­por­tu­nity to be­lieve with the own goal. The sec­ond goal was another mis­take, and we made too many. That is the rea­son why we lost the game.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

ONE TO MBE­MBA: Wolves play­ers cel­e­brate af­ter Chan­cel Mbe­mba’s own goal


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