Newcastle United's two special guests blown away by Callum Wilson and Joelinton
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Gareth Southgate and Tite, the managers of England and Brazil respectively, were in the crowd to watch the game.
And the performances of Wilson and Joelinton, both hopeful of World Cup call-ups, will have given them something to think about as they finalise their squads for next month’s tournament. Six-goal Wilson had a hand in the goals scored by Joelinton and Almiron.
United fans have something to think about too. Their club was 20th in the Premier League after 13 games last season.
A year later, the club, sold last October by then-owner Mike Ashley, is in the Champions League places – and fans, understandably, are dreaming of European football following another powerful performance.
United, relentless without the ball, could have scored a few more goals.
Allan Saint-Maximin, sidelined since early this month after suffering a setback on his return from a hamstring injury,
Newcastle made a positive start, and had a couple of half-chances early in the game. Joelinton had a shot at goal after creating space for himself with a lovely touch.
United had Dan Burn to thank for a challenge on Emiliano Buendia on the edge of the six-yard box when Villa did mount an attack.
Buendia was able to continue after treatment, though that wasn’t the case for visiting goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who was forced off later in the half.
Newcastle weren’t at their best with the ball, but they still had a great chance late in the half. Kieran Trippier, breaking down the right, found Miguel Almiron, but his shot was stopped by Robin Olsen, on for Martinez.
There were 10 minutes added on following numerous breaks in play, and referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot deep in stoppage time after Ashley Young handled a shot from Almiron.
Wilson stepped up to drive the penalty down the middle – and put the club third in the table at the break.
United pressed for a second goal after the restart, and it came from a well-corner routine which eventually saw the ball delivered for Wilson to head home from close range.
Newcastle weren’t finished. Joe Willock broke upfield and aimed a ball at Joelinton which was cut out by Matty Cash. Wilson had a shot saved, and Joelinton buried the rebound.
The best was yet to come in the 67th minute. Wilson played the ball to Almiron on the right, and he strode forward before beating Olsen with a well-placed, 25-yard strike. It was his sixth goal in as many games.
By then, a number of Villa fans had already left the stadium – and the away end continued to empty. Howe made a number of changes late in the game, and among the players he brought on was Saint-Maximin.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope; Trippier, Schar (Lascelles, 83), Botman (Targett, 71), Burn; Longstaff, Guimaraes (Shelvey, 83), Willock (Murphy, 71); Almiron (Saint-Maximin, 86), Wilson (Wood, 86), Joelinton. Subs not used: Karius, Manquillo, Fraser.