NICK PARKES REPORTS ON WOLVES 2 CRYSTAL PALACE 0 AS WOLVES' SURVIVAL IS A STEP CLOSER
Wolves all but secured their survival with a two-nil win at home against 12th placed Crystal Palace. The away side went into the game unbeaten since the return of stalwart Roy Hodgson but an own goal early on and a late Ruben Neves penalty (yes, your eyes are not deceiving you, Wolves had a penalty) ensured Wolves pushed themselves away from the dreaded relegation scrap.
Wolves made two subs from the loss at Leicester as club captain Neves replaced Gomes and Hugo Bueno replaces Toti at left back.
A SLICE OF LUCK...
The opening moments couldn’t have gone any better for Wolves as they pressed and attacked Palace from the off, and neat work from Nunes who played in Bueno down the wing, to then whip in a delicious cross onto the chest of Costa whose shot was neatly saved by ex-baggies keeper Johnstone. From the resulting corner Wolves had their slice of luck as a flick on at the near post caught Palace defender Anderson unaware who turned the ball in the back of his own net after 3 minutes.
Wolves continued to push forward in the opening 5 minutes as great play from Costa put in Semedo down the right who put in a decent cross across the box and was unlucky not to find Cunha who was steaming in.
The game settled down after that, with Wolves playing comfortably out from the back but not really creating any meaningful attack. Two players in particular though did look menacing going forward; Costa maintaining his good form as he looked to constantly get the ball forward and link up with others. Also, a piece of magic on 31 minutes as he plucked the ball out of the sky and controlled it dead with aplomb. Also, Semedo looked threatening running down the right flank and delivering decent crosses but to no avail.
The end of the first half found Palace on top as they were moving the ball in fair fluidity around our box and one occasion called for Sa to make a wonderful reaction save to deny Palace. Wolves however, weathered the storm with tight and panic-free defending to go into half-time one-nil up. A fairly even first half on the balance of play with well organised defending from Wolves but just lacking aggressiveness in attack.
A MOMENT TO SAVOUR...
If the first half was even, it’s safe to say that Palace had the better of the second half. Wolves were unable to give the crowd anything to cheer for until the 54th minute when Hugo Bueno danced passed two defenders with a cheeky bit of play to then feed Nunes in the box. Dawson leaped highest from a corner 10 minutes later but his header went comfortably over the bar. Palace however, dominated much of the possession in the second 45 and at times passed it around with ease. Semedo losing possession with a limp pass allowed Palace to steam forward with menace, for him to then fall over when trying to defend and only the crucial block from Dawson prevented the away team with a good chance on goal. Another brilliant save from Sa for tipped a long range effort over the bar to maintain his clean sheet after 73 minutes. Wolves started to panic slightly around this period, with poor clearances and pass accuracy. Captain Neves charging around like a man possessed, showing his love for the club as he ran about 5 miles in about 10 minutes. There is no doubting his passion and desire to keep Wolves in this league. Lopetegui had rung the changes and it was sub Pedro Neto who drew a 93rd minute penalty after pressuring the Palace keeper. Johnstone was extremely lucky to not have been sent off and another clear example how inadequate the VAR system is. Nevertheless, up stepped Ruben Neves who dispatched the penalty calmly into the bottom right hand corner to secure 3 crucial points for Wolves. A shirtless Neves running to the South Bank, pride and passion oozing out of him was a joy to see. Quite possibly his last home Wolves goal, so definitely a moment to savour.
FIGHT & GRIT
Although not our best performance, it was a great showing of fight and grit. Dawson, Neves, Sa, and Costa had good games in particular. Wolves fans can breathe a lot easier now as they find themselves 9 points clear of relegation, and although Julen won’t admit it, Wolves fans went to bed Tuesday night almost certain that their team will wear the Premier League patch on their shirts next season. Never in doubt!
ARTICLE BY NICK PARKES
Hi, I’m Nick! Born in Wolverhampton and currently living in Barcelona. I’ve been a Wolves fan since birth (dad’s choice) and was a north bank season ticket holder in my younger days. My favourite all-time player, Bully!
I’m an English teacher by trade and when I’m not scolding teenagers in the class, I’m either running, gardening or watching cricket!