Wolverhampton vs. Southampton: Opposition threat

Wolverhampton vs. Southampton: Opposition threat

Wolves 2 Southampton 0 – Report and pictures

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Super-sub Ivan Cavaleiro scored two minutes after coming on as Wolves struck twice late on to beat dogged Southampton 2-0 at Molineux.

Wolves have a strong chance of staying there if they convert chances more consistently. For a long time here, they, like Southampton, were guilty of being irritatingly polite: well mannered in their play, easy on the eye but toothless. Nuno Espírito Santos side, in particular, have had onlookers cooing about their cultured build-ups this season but cursing their inability to turn chances into goals with often enough. The manager insisted it was just a matter of time before his team upped their strike rate and he was vindicated here. Eventually.

A fairly uneventful first half saw Jonny Castro Otto test keeper Alex McCarthy, while Rui Patricio had to block from Mohamed Elyounoussi.

Read more After naming the same starting lineup for a seventh successive league match – a record in the Premier League era – Nuno saw his side begin well. Castro Otto brought a spectacular save from Alex McCarthy with a shot from 14 yards after a fine Wolves move but, in truth, he should have scored. At least his effort was better than the header that Matt Doherty sent wide from a free-kick a few minutes earlier.

The drab nature continued after the break but Cavaleiro broke the deadlock after great work from Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez.

Wolves controlled the early exchanges thanks partly to the class of Rubén Neves and João Moutinho in midfield. But when the visitors grew more bold, Mario Lemina and Pierre-Emile Højbjerg got the upper hand there. Southampton started to threaten around the half-hour, Nathan Redmond playing a dainty pass to Mohamed Elyounoussi but Rui Patrício hurried off his line to block the forwards weak shot.

Wolves only real weakness in the opening weeks of the season has been a lack of composure in front of goal. Step forward Ivan Cavaleiro.

The Portuguese forward has been sorely missed so far this season despite Wolves impressive start, writes Tim Spiers at Molineux.

The Portuguese midfielders celebration befitted a man making his first appearance of the campaign following a back injury and the festivities intensified when Jonny Castro Otto added a second goal to propel the promoted club up to eighth in the table.

And here he took just two minutes to make the desired impact on what had looked for so long like being a frustrating afternoon.

Wolves required patience and persistence to break down a stubborn Southampton outfit who were doing a very effective job of quelling their usual free-flowing passing game. The physical Saints tackled, fouled and intercepted Wolves all over the park, while rarely threatening Rui Patricios goal.

With both sides sensing victory was within their grasp, there was more bite to the second half. But still neither looked truly dangerous where it mattered. Southampton had more possession, Wolves were restricted to counterattacks.

It looked like a dead cert for being last on Match of the Day…but their super-subs Cavaleiro and Adama Traore changed all that, before Jonny Castro Otto sealed the points after great work from the impressive Matt Doherty.

Theres more that one way to skin a cat and Wolves will come up against all sorts of different methods and tactics in this league of wildly contrasting styles.

So far theyre answering almost all the questions posed of them – and look at home in the Premier League. For a club thats only spent four years in the past 34 in the top flight, thats quite something.

There was one alteration on the bench though with Ivan Cavaleiro named in a league squad for the first time this season. Morgan Gibbs-White dropped out, but there was no place for Leander Dendoncker.

Southampton boss Mark Hughes selected both Charlie Austin and Danny Ings up front as they looked to bounce back from last Saturdays 3-0 defeat at Liverpool.

Despite the Premier League new boy status Wolves were big favourites going into the game (you could get 4/1 on a Southampton win) and the home team set about trying to dominate from the off.

Adama Traore broke with pace and found himself one-v-one with Hoedt on the edge of the penalty box and beat his man with a low cross to Raui Jimenez who out-muscled Vestergaard to his position on the six yard mark.  Jimenez neatly dropped the ball back in the path of Ivan Cavaleiro, who had just stepped on the pitch, and hammered the Wolves into a lead.

The first 15 minutes were played out almost exclusively in Southamptons half, with the visitors resorting to regularly fouling Diogo Jota and Helder Costa in a bid to stop them breaking free. Indeed, Jannik Vestergaard chopped down Jota on three occasions near the Saints box, but referee Stuart Attwell kept his card in his pocket.

Stuart Armstrong replaced Elyounoussi as the first Saints’ substitute in the 71st minute.  He was quickly followed by Manolo Gabbiadini in a switch for Charlie Austin who had little to show in his 76 minutes on the pitch.  However, it would be the two Wolverhampton substitutes that would make the difference during the first goal of the game.

Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho had opportunities to punish the visitors from the resulting free kicks, but failed to beat the wall.

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After 10 minutes came the first real chance for the hosts. A well-worked move saw Costa skip past Wesley Hoedt and feed Matt Doherty – his low cross fell to Jonny Castro Otto whose shot from 15 yards was pushed wide by keeper Alex McCarthy.

Jota hesitated when well placed after good work from Raul Jimenez and Ryan Bennett headed a Moutinho corner straight at the keeper as Wolves controlled the game.

But then Southampton began to find a foothold and create a few opportunities of their own in what was a one-sided spell of about 10 minutes.

From then on Southampton looked visually shaken, and were doomed by a lack of leadership and team unity.  Nathan Redmond was seen arguing with Mario Lemina and Cedric Soares during key moments in the game.  More importantly was the negative body language after concession and the inability to fight back.

Austin flashed a shot wide, Ings deflected effort whistled past the post and Rui Patricio had to block from Mohamed Elyounoussi who had ghosted in behind Otto.

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 29: Nuno Espirito Santo, Manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers acknowledges the fans following the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Southampton FC at Molineux on September 29, 2018 in Wolverhampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

Wolves weathered the storm and ended the half on top. A gorgeous Neves 50-yard rake to Doherty saw the Irishman, in front of watching Ireland assistant boss Roy Keane, cross low for Jimenez whose snap-shot on the turn was saved by McCarthy. The striker then headed over from Moutinhos cross.

It was a pretty even first half but Wolves were nowhere near their best – they lacked their usual tempo and aggression in the final third and the ball just wasnt sticking up top often enough. Southampton were doing a good job of disrupting their flow with a physical – and smart – defensive display.

Nuno was forced to make a change early in the second half when Costa succumbed to a knee injury after he fell awkwardly under Ryan Bertrands challenge. Adama Traore was his replacement.

The first half was marked by a barrage of set pieces from Wolves, however, unsuccessful by Premier League standards.  Although, it was Southampton who proved to be even more wasteful, especially on attacking corner kicks which routinely and predictably search for Vestergaard’s head.

Approaching the hour mark it was all a bit flat – Wolves were still lacking inspiration and urgency. Southamptons tackles, fouls and interceptions were successfully stopping Wolves from generating any momentum.

The first bit of excitement came in the 63rd minute as a stream of strong Southampton play resulted in Danny Ings best chance to score.  He turned quickly on a ball from 8 yards out as Nathan Redmond neatly found his feet, but the shot was deflected wide for a corner.

A packed house tried to rouse them but chances remained few and far between. Dohertys quick ball down the line to Jimenez saw the Mexican striker cross low and first time…but Jota wasnt even in the box to meet it. It summed up Wolves performance – they just werent quite on it.

It would be only 4 minutes later that Wolves would secure the victory with Southampton on the back foot.  The 87th minute goal by Jonathan Castro Otto epitomized the Saints lack of fight, belief, and desire in the final minutes of games.

Southampton probed at the other end but rarely tested Patricio, who dropped a regulation Vestergaard free kick but then gobbled it up at the second attempt. With 17 minutes left to play Nunos team had yet to muster an attempt on goal in the second half.

It was insipid and pretty dull to watch – nothing compared to what weve seen in recent weeks. When Neves se

Nuno gave Cavaleiro his Premier League debut in place of Jota with 77 minutes on the clock, shortly after Patricio had to save from Stuart Armstrong who should have done better from close range.

It had that feeling of a Southampton late winner about it…but from nowhere Traore sparked Wolves into life – and then into the lead.

He buoyantly raced down the right flank with all the wild abandon of Theresa May in a field of wheat, beat his man and crossed low for Jimenez who, just like at Old Trafford last week, collected and teed up a team mate, this time Cavaleiro who smashed past McCarthy from 12 yards to send Molineux potty.

The place was transformed – and so were Wolves who nearly doubled their lead when Jimenez flicked on Moutinhos cross with a great header, only to be denied by a superb McCarthy save.

It was all Wolves now. They were full of confidence and swagger and had absolutely no intention to sit on their lead.

They deservedly doubled it when Doherty showed great persistence to get to the byline (he never does that) and played to Otto who fired low past McCarthy from close range for his first goal for the club.

79 – GOAL – Traore races down the right and crosses for Jimenez who cleverly tees up CAVALEIRO to smash home

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Otto; Costa (Traore, 52), Jimenez, Jota (Cavaleiro, 77). Subs: Ruddy, Hause, Saiss, Vinagre, Bonatini.

Southampton (4-4-2): McCarthy; Soares, Hoedt, Vestergaard, Bertrand; Redmond, Hojbjerg, Lemina, Elyounoussi (Armstrong, 71); Austin (Gabbiandini, 77), Ings. Subs: Gunn, Yoshida, Targett, Romeu, Davis.

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