Eddie Howe saluted the character of £25million January signing Chris Wood after watching him hold his nerve to fire Newcastle to a priceless Premier League victory over Wolves.
Wood’s second goal for the Magpies and the first on Tyneside arrived courtesy of a 72nd-minute penalty and secured a 1-0 win which eased the club 10 points clear of the relegation zone.
The New Zealand international, who had seen a first-half strike ruled out by VAR, had to wait while referee Peter Bankes’ decision was checked, but eventually sent goalkeeper Jose Sa, who had fouled him, the wrong way to win a tight game in front of a crowd of 52,164 at St James’ Park.
YOU MAGSSSSS! 🤩— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) April 8, 2022
Asked about his contribution, head coach Howe said: “There’s a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he struck the penalty really well. That was a big, big thing for him.
“He wants that responsibility. If you come to a club like this, you need to have broad shoulders and I think he has since he’s come in.
“I’ve spoken very, very highly of him in several different moments and I’ve said every word honestly and how valued he is to me and the team.
“But he needs to score, as a centre-forward here, you need to score and so I’m really, really pleased.”
Wood’s goal ultimately decided the destination of the points despite a concerted late flurry by the visitors and ended a run of three successive defeats.
However, it was £33million Brazil midfielder Bruno Guimaraes – making his first start at St James’ – who caught the eye.
Howe said: “He did very well today in a very difficult game. He showed real intelligence in possession and in terms of his positioning and his desire to get on the ball is so strong.
“There’s no fear in Bruno, he wants to be on the ball in every moment and that’s in part why we love him so much.”
While there is now clear water between Newcastle and the bottom three once again as a result of an important win, Howe is refusing to look any further ahead than the Easter Sunday showdown with Leicester.
He said: “Today was a big result for us, but we have more work to do. We’re not really looking up or down, we’re just looking at the next match. We’re looking to try to maximise every game and we’ll look forward to our next home game.”
If Howe was delighted with the outcome, opposite number Bruno Lage was left to reflect upon a sub-standard first-half display and the failings which led to the penalty.
He said: “We are in the box, a good cross from Marcal, they win the ball and after that with two or three touches, they are inside our box and we give them a penalty and a big chance to score.
“When you look at that, it’s disappointing because we missed a big chance to win today.
“At this moment, I should give credit to Newcastle because there weren’t too many chances, but the chance they had, they scored, so they deserved to win the game.”