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Magpies breathe a sigh of relief

It promised to be quite a Saturday night on the Quayside after Newcastle all but secured their top-flight survival.

Tensions had been rising with the St James' Park faithful having last witnessed a top-flight home win following a 3.0 kick-off in August 2008. It is fair to assume that in the interim period the hosts have not come up against a defence quite as anarchic and generous as the Wolves back four were yesterday.

The momentum was meant to be with Mick McCarthy's side, but this was a display more in keeping with their autumn form than recent results that had promised so much for the Black Country team.

Kevin Nolan, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands and Jonas Gutierrez all helped themselves to goals as Wolves disintegrated, slipping to second from bottom of the table while Newcastle moved above arch-rivals Sunderland.

"Football is a religion up here to some people and everywhere we went we were reminded how important this fixture was," said Newcastle manager Alan Pardew. "The Stoke game (a 4-0 defeat) started alarm bells ringing and Wolves were in tremendous form, but we were back to what we are about today and put them under constant pressure."

Nolan set the ball rolling when he ran through unmarked to beat Wayne Hennessey after Ameobi had risen above Richard Stearman to nod on Mike Williamson's punt forward.

"It was Keystone Cops, really poor," Wolves manager Mick McCarthy said. "If that happened on Sunday morning when you are watching your kids you wouldn't be happy. But I was a centre-half. We all have days like that."

As half-time approached, the visitors fell apart, Stearman surrendering possession before former Rangers man Lovenkrands crossed for Ameobi to outjump George Elokobi and nod the ball beyond Hennessey.

Wolves went from bad to worse after the break and Lovenkrands rattled a post before firing in Joey Barton's cross.

Sylvan Ebanks-Blake drove a low shot beyond Steve Harper to give Wolves hope, but Steven Fletcher missed a sitter and their hopes of a dramatic comeback vanished. Gutierrez completed the rout when he ran unimpeded from the halfway line to curl a sublime shot home.

"We are under no illusions that there is still work to do," Pardew said, "but we are definitely safer and we can enjoy our cokes and half-lagers."

The only disappointment for the Magpies was Nolan's 10th yellow card of the season, which will see him banned for the Aston Villa and Manchester United games.

He was booked for a cynical 43rd-minute challenge on Adam Hammill after the winger had broken free down the right, but Wolves boss McCarthy felt the punishment was appropriate.

"It's not a sending-off, no way. I don't blame him for doing it. You take one for the team.''


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