ZENGA HAILS SPIRIT AS TOON ARE TAMED
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.”
ONE TO MBEMBA: Wolves players celebrate after Chancel Mbemba’s own goal
STAR MAN JON DADI BODVARSSON Wolves