Gary O’Neil labels Newcastle penalty ‘scandalous decision’

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil called the decision to award Newcastle a first-half penalty in their 2-2 draw at Molineux “scandalous”.

O’Neil was delighted by the way his players battled back, twice coming from a goal down to earn an impressive point through Hwang Hee-chan’s equaliser, but Wolves were once again left fuming at the officials on a busy afternoon for referee Anthony Taylor and VAR Jarred Gillett.

The game was at 1-1, with Mario Lemina’s first Wolves goal cancelling out Callum Wilson’s opener, when Taylor pointed to the spot on the stroke of half-time.

Callum Wilson scores from the penalty spot after Hwang Hee-chan was penalised
Callum Wilson scores from the penalty spot after Hwang Hee-chan was penalised (Barrington Coombs/PA)

Hwang had been guilty of a heavy touch inside his own box, inviting Fabian Schar to challenge for the ball, but the Newcastle man appeared to kick the turf and looked to already be on his way down before any contact.

There was a lengthy VAR check but the on-field decision stood, and Wilson kept his cool to put Newcastle back in front.

“It was a scandalous decision,” O’Neil said. “It was a terrible on-field decision, and terrible that VAR didn’t intervene so I thought they got it badly wrong.

“(Hwang) has a big touch…and then goes to clear the ball. He makes such minimal contact with Schar, hardly any, a glance of the boot.

“Schar’s is already on the way down and the ball actually hits ‘Channy’ on the other foot before he even makes contact with Schar so technically he gets the ball before he makes contact with Schar, so that’s why it’s a terrible decision.”

Wolves seemed to use their sense of injustice as fuel in the second half, and it was fitting that Hwang got the equaliser with his seventh goal of the season.

Hwang Hee-chan celebrates his equaliser
Hwang Hee-chan celebrates his equaliser (Barrington Coombs/PA)

“There’s never any question marks from me on his mentality, his willingness to work, his ability to refocus and get going again,” O’Neil said of the Korean.

“Obviously he’s a threat, obviously his goalscoring this season for us has been a big plus and he gets another important one today.”

The draw extends Wolves’ unbeaten run to five games, and O’Neil said: “I’m really pleased with the group. We suffered some setbacks and I think everyone could be proud of their work-rate, the quality and the resilience.”

Eddie Howe was frustrated that Newcastle, playing for the first time since Sandro Tonali started a 10-month ban for betting offences, could not hold on for a win having twice led, but was happy with how they finished the match despite fatigue creeping in after Wednesday’s 1-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund.

“It was probably a fair result,” he said. “Two good teams. It was a really good spectacle. It’s frustrating having led not to get over the line and win the game but it was a really impressive end when the home crowd is up.

Eddie Howe, left, and Joe Willock applaud the Newcastle fans after the game
Eddie Howe, left, and Joe Willock applaud the Newcastle fans after the game (Nick Potts/PA)

“We’ve had a tough week with the Sandro situation and injuries to key players but it was a really good response.”

Wilson’s brace, including an acrobatic opener to tidy up his own rebound, took him to seven goals from nine appearances, encouraging news for Howe with Alexander Isak facing a spell on the sidelines.

“It was a massive contribution from Callum,” Howe said. “His first goal was hugely impressive, the first chance was the easier than the second but that’s typical Callum.

“He took the penalty well and was probably frustrated he didn’t get the match ball with a chance at the end, but they were priceless goals for us.”