West Ham advance to Conference League group stage


WOLVERHAMPTON: A stunner from Allan-Saint-Maximin saved 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 previous week, was once again the Magpies’ talisman as he produced some late magic to bring home the equalizer on the fly with time running out.

Wolves opened the scoring early on when Ruben Neves produced a Goal of the Month contender to put Bruno Lage’s men ahead.

On the selection front, United suffered a major blow before the game when news of an injury to Bruno Guimaraes broke, along with the fact that club-record Alexander Isak did not receive a international authorization or time work permit.

As a result, Chris Wood started in the lead, with Sean Longstaff in the middle.

While United have a well-equipped backline, significantly strengthened over the past six months with the additions of Dan Burn, Nick Pope and Sven Botman, the only thing missing is pace, and it was clear the home side was looking to exploit gaps wide and over the top.

One of those direct balls exploited that weakness and a Wolves play in the area was cut 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 first 45, but few shots troubled goalkeeper Jose Sa.

The best of all Newcastle openings came to Joe Willock, although the preparation was not without controversy.

Sean Longstaff had his shirt pulled in the area as he tried to work an opening but nothing was given when the ball broke to Willock, who swung six yards wide as he appeared easier to score.

While United had more effort towards goal, it was Wolves who were easily the most dangerous, and Goncalo Guedes went inches from the opener.

Another, this time directed down the right flank, forced skipper Kieran Trippier into an error and a ball into the box was deflected by the Portuguese leader.

The opener went on 38 minutes – and not much could be done about that from Newcastle’s perspective. The home side worked the ball wide to the right and then kicked in a strike for Neves, who crashed 20 yards out. It was hard to tell he hadn’t come.

United produced their best work on the break in the first 45, with Wolves on the front foot – but for much of the second half the tables turned, with Magpies the hunters and Wolves chasing them.

Although, as United advanced, they struggled to really create any notable chances. Centre-back Fabian Schar threatened a leveler but his deflected effort slipped inches from Sa’s post.

Knocking on the door with determination, United made all five substitutions in search of a second-half equaliser.

They had a caution about eight minutes from time as Raul Jimenez saw a goal scored for a foul in the build-up. VAR, as it did last week, had a big final say on the matchday’s final points destination.

It was a world-class moment – ​​and a defensive mistake by Wolves – that opened the door for the Magpies.

Substitute Jacob Murphy broke down on the right and when a poorly cleared ball fell around 20 yards from goal, no one expected what was to come.

Saint-Maximin, shifted in the lead for the final stages, stabilized and flew on the volley, which nestled in the bottom corner of the Wolves goal. His was just a spectator.

It was no less than what the Magpies deserved, with neither side doing enough to earn a thrilling encounter at Molineux.

And United could have won it, although it might have been an unfair result, as youngster Elliot Anderson hit the bar with a header from a corner.

The result, for now at least, sees United climb to eighth in the table and, as previously mentioned, continue their unbeaten start to the campaign, which now stretches to five matches, including four in the Premier League.

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