Jacob Murphy's late brilliance eases pressure on Steve Bruce at Newcastle United
Steve Bruce needed a reaction from his team at Molienux – and he got one.
Newcastle United put in a spirited, backs-to-the-wall performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers this afternoon – and got their rewards thanks to a late equaliser from Jacob Murphy.
Murphy’s late free-kick saw Bruce’s side claim a point from a 1-1 draw.
United had looked to be heading for a defeat following a second-half strike from Raul Jimenez.
But the team kept on going, and Murphy’s 89th-minute equaliser has taken some of the pressure off Steve Bruce, who has had to contend with more and more criticism in recent weeks.
Bruce, in particular, will have been heartened with the doggedness and determination of his team in defence.
There had been a clamour for Ryan Fraser and Miguel Almiron to handed starts following last weekend’s 4-1 home defeat to Manchester United, and the pair were brought into the team, set out in a 5-3-1-1 formation, along with Murphy and Fabian Schar.
Bruce was without Jonjo Shelvey, a player he admitted had been carrying an injury ahead of the behind-closed-doors game.
Isaac Hayden, forced off eight days earlier, was named on the bench at Molineux along with Sean Longstaff, back from a bout of tonsillitis, and Joelinton, who dropped of the team.
It was an attacking starting XI, but Newcastle’s problems this season have been in defence, with Karl Darlow, passed fit following his collision with Marcus Rashford eight days earlier, having made more saves than any other Premier League goalkeeper this season.
Darlow had a quieter afternoon, though he did have to make an early save to deny Daniel Podence at Molineux, where United spent the first 15 minutes on the back foot. Jimenez wasted two early chanced before he visitors started to settle into the game.
Callum Wilson had a shot blocked after a quick break forward, but the visitors found chances hard to come by.
Newcastle were a threat on the break, and Saint-Maximin, handed what Bruce described as a “free role” behind Wilson, had a deflected shot saved by Rui Patricio. Saint-Maximin, however, wasn’t such a threat through the middle.
The half ended goalless, and Bruce sent out an unchanged team after the interval. There was another let-off for United early in the half when Pedro Neto, in space, shot over Darlow’s goal.
Wolves, for all their possession, never really got in behind Newcastle. Federico Fernandez – who had done well to divert a first-half cross from Pedro Neto – blocked a second-half shot from Podence as the visitors pressed for a breakthrough.
Almiron had a shot blocked after good work down the right from Murphy, who was playing higher and higher up the pitch.
On came Adama Traore for the home side, who pushed hard for a goal.
Bruce sent on Joelinton and Sean Longstaff, but his team was beaten by a late strike from Jimenez.
But the game wasn’t over, and Murphy superbly curled a free-kick round the wall after Conor Coady brought down Wilson in the 89th minute to claim a point for United.