Wolves moved into the top half of the Premier League for the first time since the opening weekend, as they beat a disappointing Aston Villa in the West Midlands derby.
The result sees Nuno Espirito Santo’s side climb from 15th up to eighth, while Villa remain 17th, three points above the bottom three.
Inside a raucous Molineux, the hosts quickly took charge against a Villa team without the injured Jack Grealish and first choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
Wolves’ task was aided by an early injury to Villa’s replacement goalkeeper Jed Steer, though they were unable to capitalise until just before half-time.
Joao Moutinho’s clever free-kick, deceived the Villa defence and allowed Ruben Neves to whip a right-foot effort into the bottom right corner from 18-yards.
Adama Traore went close to adding a second for the hosts, seeing his rasping drive cannon against the Villa crossbar, while Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota also missed good opportunities for Wolves.
Brazilian forward Wesley curled Villa’s best chance over, before Jimenez’s added a second for the hosts, with a sweeping right-foot shot.
It ensured Wolves confirmed their first top-flight win over Villa since 1978, despite Trezeguet’s late consolation effort.
Traore terrorises former employers
This was another performance that suggested Wolves are now up and running after their slow start to the season.
Already on the brink of reaching the Europa League knockout stages, Nuno’s side are now unbeaten in seven Premier League matches and were worthy winners against out-of-sorts opponents.
It was one-way traffic in the first half as Jota, Jimenez and Matt Doherty all failed to convert chances that could have put the hosts out of sight by the interval.
With the game being played almost exclusively in the Villa half the visitors did not manage an effort on goal until the half-hour mark.
Another feature throughout was the sight of Adama Traore, who has been called up to the Spain squad, terrorising the Villa defence.
The 23-year-old, who scored in his one and only start during his time at Villa Park, repeatedly skipped past Matt Targett and his replacement Neil Taylor.
Traore’s searing pace also created Jimenez’s decisive second goal, with the winger eluding Douglas Luiz, before picking out the Mexican on the left-side of the penalty area.
It capped a fine individual display from Traore, who is now beginning to fulfil the potential he exhibited in Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ youth system.
Villa flatter to deceive
Aston Villa made the 20-mile trip to Molineux looking to do a double over Wolves having knocked their local rivals out of the Carabao Cup 11 days ago.
However, they delivered a disjointed and disappointing performance and struggled to gain any sort of foothold in the game until the final quarter.
The absence of the injured Heaton and defender Björn Engels were keenly felt at the back, while without Grealish, their was a distinct lack of spark to their attacking.
John McGinn struggled to impose himself in midfield, while Marvelous Nakamba was a peripheral figure and was later replaced by Henri Lansbury.
While Trezeguet did offer some threat down the flank, the Egyptian did not come to the fore until Villa were chasing an equaliser late in the game.
While his close-range drive – which was confirmed by goal line technology – in stoppage time gave Villa hope, in truth, it gave the scoreline a flattering look.
Fortress Molineux – the stats
- Wolves picked up their first top-flight home victory against Aston Villa in 10 games (W1 D3 L6), since a 3-1 win in May 1978.
- Wolves have only lost one of their past 14 Premier League home games (W8 D5), a 2-5 loss to Chelsea in September.
- Aston Villa have only kept one clean sheet in their last 24 Premier League matches on the road, a 0-0 draw with West Brom in January 2016.
- Ruben Neves has now scored 14 goals for Wolves in all competitions, with 11 of those coming from outside the box.
- Among Premier League players, only Raheem Sterling (14) has scored more goals in all competitions this season than Wolves’ Raul Jimenez (13), who netted on his 50th Premier League appearance.
- Since the start of last season, Joao Moutinho has provided more Premier League assists than any other Wolves player (11). In fact, only Matt Jarvis (13) and Kevin Doyle (12) have registered more assists in Premier League history for Wolves than Moutinho (11).
- Aston Villa’s Jed Steer made only his second Premier League appearance (which lasted just eight minutes), 1,631 days after his first in May 2015 (v Burnley) – it’s the largest gap between two appearances for a Villa player in the competition’s history.
- Aston Villa boss Dean Smith is winless in five league meetings with Wolves (D1 L4), since defeating them 3-0 as Brentford manager in a Championship tie in February 2016.
More to follow.