Wolves’ fine run continues as sloppy Everton punished again
Wolves' fine run continues as sloppy Everton punished again
Max Kilman’s first Wolves goal and Raul Jimenez’s 50th were enough to send Bruno Lage’s men into seventh place in the Premier League and condemn Everton to a third successive defeat.
Wolves dominated the opening period of an entertaining contest and were worthy of a comfortable half-time cushion provided by Kilman’s far-post header and a lovely clipped finish by Jimenez.
However, after being booed off at the break, Rafael Benitez’s visitors were much improved when they returned.
Alex Iwobi halved the deficit and it took a fabulous save by Jose Sa to deny substitute Anthony Gordon four minutes from time.
Wolves managed to avoid conceding an injury-time equaliser as they did at Leeds nine days ago to take their points tally to 13 from five games.
For Everton, their second-half improvement was scant consolation as early-season optimism continues to fade for a team yet again mired in mid-table, having now lost the same number of games as they have won.
It has taken Jimenez a little bit of time to return to his effective best since suffering a fractured skull at Arsenal last season.
But the Mexican was a major threat to Everton.
It was his surging run that ended with Hwang Hee-chan prodding home a goal that was ruled out by VAR and there was no hesitancy about the striker’s finish when he capitalised on a Ben Godfrey backpass that managed to perfectly split Mason Holgate and Jordan Pickford.
Jimenez coolly chipped the ball over Pickford, who had already made two fabulous saves to deny Ruben Neves and Francisco Trincao when the game was still goalless.
In front of watching England boss Gareth Southgate, Pickford was earlier beaten when Kilman guided a header across goal and into the far corner.
It was the former England futsal international’s first goal as a professional and his celebration underlined the career journey that brought him to Wolves via unglamorous locations such as Maidenhead and Marlow.
It was not that Everton were without chances in an awful opening period. They had some really good ones. The problem was they tended to come from mistakes by their opponents.
Romain Saiss’ sliced clearance sent Demarai Gray clear, only for the former Leicester man to drag his shot wide. Holgate seemed to be caught by surprise when the Wolves defence allowed a free-kick to reach him at the far post, from where he scooped the ball over.
But the tepid nature of their display was not appreciated by a travelling support whose side had just lost successive home games and conceded four goals in the final 12 minutes against Watford in their last outing, and made their feelings known at the half-time whistle blew.
The introduction of Fabian Delph and doubtless some choice words from their manager led to a significant improvement from the visitors.
Sa’s woeful pass out of his six-yard area would have led to an Everton goal had the Wolves goalkeeper and his captain Conor Coady not combined to block Richarlison’s route to the net.
Coady was in the way again when Godfrey shot from the edge of the area. This time, though, the block went straight to Iwobi, who slammed home a first-time shot.
Everton pressed on but once Sa denied Gordon, they were unable to fashion another opportunity, leaving Benitez pondering how to arrest a slide in fortunes that began when they were seven points ahead of tonight’s opponents – who they now find themselves two behind.
Wolves’ next game is at Crystal Palace on Saturday (15:00 GMT). Everton are next in action the following day when they entertain Tottenham (14:00).
‘We are changing things that will be positive for the future’
Wolves boss Bruno Lage, speaking to BBC Sport: “It was very good, three points and especially what we did in the first half – the way we played and the goals we scored. Very good.
“These kind of things can happen. We prepared for the game very well, we had a long time to prepare. We saw the way we can find the right space and when they played 4-4-2 we found the right spaces.
“I don’t care if we score goals in the first half or the second half I want the team to understand how the opponent is playing.”
Everton boss Rafael Benitez, speaking to BBC Sport: “When you lose games you have to be disappointed. We didn’t do well in the first half but second half much better. It is something we have to change and hopefully better for the next game.
“We were too worried about making mistakes but in the second half we saw the character we have. It is something we have to learn for the future and don’t waste half an hour.
“I think the second half we maybe deserved a couple of goals. Even in the first half playing bad we still had chances.
“With players out and we are maybe pushing players who are not really available like Delph back today. We are changing a lot of things I believe will be positive for the future.”