Livramento ensures Newcastle enjoy their day in the rain against Wolves

<span><a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Anthony Gordon;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Anthony Gordon</a> wheels away after scoring <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Newcastle;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Newcastle</a>’s second goal against Wolves.</span><span>Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images</span>

As torrential rain cascaded down on a chilly Tyneside afternoon, it became ever easier to understand why Saudi Arabia’s tourism ministry believes holidays to its new Red Sea resorts will ultimately sell well in north-east England.

If that grand project still seems slightly fanciful, the prospect of Eddie Howe delighting Newcastle’s Saudi owners by taking his team on another European tour looked a lot more realistic at 5pm on Saturday than two hours previously.

By the final whistle Newcastle had leapfrogged Wolves to rise to eighth in the Premier League, well within reach of a Europa League berth. Almost equally importantly, a first home win and clean sheet in the league since mid-December went a long way towards restoring recently ebbing faith in their defensive capabilities and Howe’s coaching nous.

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Hats off to the impressive Fabian Schär for not merely shining at centre-half but helping create all three goals as the Switzerland international showcased his ability to deliver 50 yard defence-splitting passes to feet.

“There are not many defenders like Fabian,” said Howe. “His biggest strength is on the ball but, defensively, he reads the game so well.”

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After conceding 12 goals in their past four league games, Newcastle had turned uncharacteristically cautious and it appeared to be paying dividends. They were in full-on away team parking the bus mode and this contain and counter approach succeeded in thoroughly confounding their guests.

“It’s a massive win,” said Howe. “People say we only play one way but we changed things tactically today and were a bit more transitional. We were cute in certain situations. Towards the end of the game we saw the confidence flowing back. We looked much better defensively.”

Despite enjoying plenty of first-half possession Wolves were evidently missing the injured forward Hwang Hee-chan and, having failed to really hurt their hosts, found themselves two down by the interval.

When Schär and Anthony Gordon initiated a counterattack, the accelerating Alexander Isak was in the right place at the right time to head Bruno Guimarães’s deflected cross-shot beyond José Sá.

“Newcastle got a big chunk of luck there,” said the Wolves manager, Gary O’Neil. “But I’m proud of our performance. We made a couple of bad errors but we controlled a lot of the play. I know Eddie Howe and there’s no way Newcastle let us have the ball. The reason we had it is because we showed quality on it. I thought our structure was better than theirs.”

That notion was made to look slightly hollow when Schär once again passed smoothly out of defence and Jacob Murphy crossed low from the right. When Sá and Max Kilman suffered a collapse in defensive communication the goalkeeper ended up parrying the ball into Gordon’s path and watching in mortification as the winger swept home.

With Gordon destabilising their defence, Guimarães having a fine game in central midfield and Joe Willock – all intelligent movement and dynamic athleticism alongside the Brazilian – showing how much he has been missed during a lengthy injury layoff, Wolves were up against it.

Although the visitors subsequently improved and Martin Dubravka made some decent second-half saves, Newcastle rarely looked in peril of self destructing.

By way of emphasising that point, Tino Livramento, on for the injured Kieran Trippier, contributed a fine late solo goal. Cued up by Schär, he cut inside and sashayed beyond a trio of wrong-footed defenders as, despite the inclement weather, Newcastle suggested they may just have put a bleak midwinter behind them.