Premier League Asia Trophy semi-final
Newcastle 0 Wolves 4
Wolves made a mockery of their small squad and lack of summer signings by reaching the Premier League Asia Trophy final after cruising to a 4-0 win against Newcastle in Nanjing.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will meet Manchester City in the final on Saturday lunchtiime (1.30pm, UK time) after the Premier League champions beat West Ham 4-1 in the other semi-final.
Diogo Jota (15 and 40), and Morgan Gibbs-White (32) – with his first goal for the club – put Wolves 3-0 up at half-time and Tom Allan’s own goal on 85 sealed a commanding victory for the Molineux men, who are without Matt Doherty, Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss and have so far failed to add any new signings to the squad.
With a lack of forward options, Nuno played a 3-5-1-1 system with Gibbs-White playing slightly off Jota up front. Wolves also handed debuts to five more youngsters from the bench – Dion Sanderson, Hong Wan, Luke Cundle, Terry Taylor and Taylor Perry.
In humid conditions, Wolves created the first chance when Joao Moutinho curled over the bar after Leander Dendoncker burst down the right and Gibbs-White dummied his pass. Newcastle responded with a long-range drive from Jonjo Shelvey which flew well off target.
The opening goal came after Jonny scampered down the left and crossed to Jota, who took the ball on with his left foot before firing an effort between goalkeeper Karl Darlow and his right-hand post.
Wolves gained further control when Gibbs-White fired into the bottom corner from just outside the box after Jonny picked him out when Dendoncker won possession from Jota’s pass.
Newcastle tried to respond and Rui Patricio was forced into a routine save to foil Matt Ritchie’s speculative effort after the winger linked up with Shelvey. But Wolves were quick to weather any storm and extended their lead before the break. Dendoncker was again involved and he surged forwards before Jota robbed Isaac Hayden then fired under Darlow from inside the area for his second goal.
After a series of half-time substitutes, one of them – Wolves ‘keeper John Ruddy – made a routine save to stop Ritchie’s free kick on 55, before Ruben Neves dragged a shot narrowly wide. Javier Manquillo stung Ruddy’s palms after good work from Elias Sørensen and Matthew Longstaff.
Two Wolves Academy prospects combined to go within centimetres of another goal soon afterwards. Taylor Perry’s effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by Kelland Watts after Niall Ennis made strides down the right and crossed.
Ruben Vinagre’s fierce angled drive was parried away by Freddie Woodman, before a series of substitutions, including the arrivals of Terry Taylor and Hong Wan. There was still time for Wolves to grab a fourth goal, as Allan headed the ball into his own net from Vinagre’s corner.
Dominant Wolves also bossed the statistics, with a 92 per cent pass completion rate as opposed to Newcastle’s 88 per cent, while they completed 663 passes as opposed to the Magpies’ 442.
Newcastle (4-1-4-1): Darlow (Woodman HT); Sterry (Manquillo HT), Lascelles (Fernandez HT), Clark (Watts 58), Lazaar (Bailey 62); Hayden; Murphy (Allan 62), Colback (M Longstaff 62), Shelvey (Ki 58), Ritchie (Aarons 58); Muto (Sorensen 62).
Subs not used: Dummett, Schar, Harker, S Longstaff.
Wolves (3-5-1-1): Patricio (Ruddy HT); Bennett, Coady, Boly; Traore (Sanderson 65), Dendoncker (Hong 81), Neves (Taylor 81), Moutinho (Cundle 81), Jonny (Vinagre 65); Gibbs-White (Perry 65), Jota (Ennis 65).
Subs not used: Norris (gk), Kilman, Miranda, Francis, Marques, Samuels.
Referee: Martin Atkinson.