Wolves moved level on points with Everton and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League thanks to a 2-0 victory over 10-man Crystal Palace at Molineux.
A minute after Michy Batshuayi had a goal correctly disallowed for offside for the visitors, debutant Rayan Ait-Nouri opened the scoring (18) when his first-time shot arrowed into the bottom corner.
Daniel Podence doubled his side’s advantage nine minutes later and everything was going Wolves’ way. Palace thought they had a penalty just before the break after Patrick van Aanholt was brought down by Willy Boly, but referee Martin Atkinson’s decision was overturned by VAR with the full-back offside in the build-up.
Wolves’ two first-half goals proved to be enough and a bad evening for Palace got even worse in the dying stages when captain Luka Milivojevic was sent off after a VAR review for a late challenge on Wolves substitute Joao Moutinho.
Victory sees Nuno Espirito Santo’s side move to 13 points and up into third behind second-placed Liverpool and league leaders Everton on goal difference ahead of the weekend fixtures. Meanwhile, defeat keeps Palace in ninth.
How Wolves swept Palace aside…
Palace had an early sight of goal but Wilfried Zaha’s shot sailed over the crossbar before Wolves took control. Leander Dendoncker’s header dropped wide of the far post before Vicente Guaita turned Podence’s curling effort over as the home side threatened an opener.
Wolves: Patricio (7), Semedo (8), Boly (6), Coady (7), Kilman (7), Ait-Nouri (8), Neves (7), Dendoncker (7), Neto (7), Podence (8), Jimenez (7).
Subs: Moutinho (6), Traore (6), Silva (n/a).
Crystal Palace: Guaita (6), Clyne (6), Kouyate (6), Dann (7), Van Aanholt (7), Townsend (6), Milivojevic (5), Riedewald (6), Schlupp (6), Zaha (6), Batshuayi (6).
Subs: Eze (6), Ayew (6), Benteke (n/a).
Man of the match: Daniel Podence.
However, Palace showed their potential on the break when Batshuayi steered home Zaha’s cross, only to be correctly flagged offside.
It was a warning to Wolves, but they quickly brushed it aside to open the scoring in the 18th minute.
Podence burst clear down the right and Cheikhou Kouyate cleared his cross only as far as Ait-Nouri – who joined from Angers in the summer – and the wing-back’s powerful drive nestled into the far corner.
Wolves never looked back and they went close to doubling their advantage as Nelson Semedo shot inches wide before Dendoncker struck the bar from 30 yards.
However, it was not long before they did have a second. Raul Jimenez fed Pedro Neto and his cross was volleyed home at the far post by Podence.
Despite Wolves’ dominance, Palace thought they had a lifeline seven minutes before the break. Van Aanholt was brought down by Boly’s challenge for a penalty, but the visitors were denied the spot-kick by VAR, with the Palace full-back inches ahead of the play in the build-up.
- Rayan Ait-Nouri was handed his Wolves debut against Crystal Palace. The defender replaced Romain Saiss, who dropped to the bench, in the hosts’ only change from their 1-1 draw with Newcastle.
- Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt returned at left-back for his first start of the season after injury while Jordan Ayew was back in the squad following his recovery from coronavirus.
Palace’s luck failed to improve in the second half. Zaha’s appeals for a penalty were then dismissed by the referee and VAR after Ait-Nouri appeared to make contact with his ankle in the area.
At the other end, Dendoncker fired Neto’s cross wide after a swift break and Podence shot wide as Wolves looked for a third, but Palace’s challenge was well and truly ended when Milivojevic was dismissed for a poor tackle on Moutinho after the referee reviewed the decision on the pitchside monitor.
What the managers said…
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: “We started really well. In the second half we started slowly and let Palace have the ball. We were not comfortable but when we adjusted we started doing better. We had chances to score another.
“Rayan Ait Nouri played good. He has things to improve on. I was smiling because football is like this, it’s your first game and you score. To have goals all over the team is important. It’s what you need.
“The idea is to sustain [their form]. Every game in the Premier League is very tough.”
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson: “You’re always disappointed when you play and lose. Wolves started the game strongly and we didn’t. As a result they had a 2-0 lead. After that we played more than evenly with them. But it wasn’t possible for us to get back in the game.
“I’m not disappointed with how the players played for most of the game. But I’m disappointed with that opening 20-minute spell.
“I spoke to the referee about the red card [to Luka Milivojevic]. I made my views clear. I don’t think it was a red card. It was a fair challenge.”
Opta stats – Wolves on the up
- Wolves will end the day in third place in the Premier League, their highest position this far into a top-flight season since October 1979 (third after 10 matches), when they went on to finish sixth and win the League Cup.
- Each of Wolves’ last nine Premier League victories have come without conceding a goal.
- Wolves managed to score two first-half goals after drawing a blank in the opening 45 minutes in their five Premier League games beforehand; indeed, their 10 shots in the first half is the most they’ve had in a top-fight game since February v Norwich (also 10).
- Only relegated Norwich City (14) have lost more Premier League games in 2020 than Crystal Palace (13).
- Since Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge of Crystal Palace in September 2017, the Eagles have failed to score in 39 Premier League matches, with only rivals Brighton (40) drawing a blank on more occasions.
Wolves are next in action Sunday November 8 when they travel to Leicester City in the Premier League, live on Sky Sports Premier League; kick-off 2pm.
Crystal Palace will face Leeds United on Saturday November 7; kick-off 3pm.