João Moutinho

Wolves continue Europa charge with defeat of Palace

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Wolves – Crystal Palace recap: Wolves kept control of its top six destiny by handing Crystal Palace a seventh-straight loss in a 2-0 win at the Molineux on Monday.

Daniel Podence and Jonny Otto scored for the sixth-place hosts, who can still finish as high as fifth and finish at Chelsea on Sunday.

[ MORE: Premier League summer schedule ]

Wolves’ 59 points are three back of Manchester United and Leicester City. United has two matches left and one is Leicester’s lone remaining match.

Palace’s 42 points are 14th. It can finish as high as 13th or as low as 16th after finishing at home to Tottenham.

WOLVES – CRYSTAL PALACE FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three things we learned

1. Wolves engine room fires on all cylinders: Nuno Espirito Santo’s team has so many key contributors but the heart of the club’s midfield was especially shiny on Monday. Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho are a Portuguese power duo, the former providing industry and power while the latter blends experience, vision, and calmness into a total midfielder. They were clinical against a Palace bunch who wants to use work ethic and graft to make your day miserable.

2. Wolves eye UEL: Nuno Espirito Santo’s men can still claim 62 points which theoretically could put them past Manchester United or Leicester, but the pair meeting on the final day means at least one will finish above Wolves (Plus United has West Ham on Wednesday). It looks like it’ll come down to Spurs or Wolves for sixth and seventh, and an Arsenal win over Chelsea in the FA Cup Final would make seven just a place on the table. Here’s a good breakdown from a better man than me.

3. Hodgson shakes his head: Look you’d love to see better out of Palace, who overachieved in a big way for much of the season, but Roy Hodgson must look at the club’s run to the finish of the season and wonder if they could’ve had it unluckier. The Eagles had vague Europa League hopes when they started this losing skid by playing Liverpool and then Burnley, Leicester City, Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester United, and now Wolves. Every one of them was alive for European qualification or fighting against relegation. Finishing with Tottenham won’t make it any easier for a club who was simply playing for pride.

Man of the Match

Matt Doherty — A tackling machine who painted the right side of the heat map red, Doherty’s steal and assist on the opener was emblematic of his very best.


Wolves – Crystal Palace recap

Palace put together a terrific team play in the first throes of the game, James McCarthy stinging a pass to Jeff Schlupp that wound up with Jordan Ayew flummoxed in the heart of the box.

Raul Jimenez had a lively opening 15 minutes for Wolves, nearly dribbling into a scoring chance and hassling Palace.

Mamadou Sakho was forced. off with injury in the 22nd minute, limping up the stands.

Podence had a few chances before he put Wolves ahead in the 41st minute. Joao Moutinho chipped Matt Doherty into the box, and the Irishman cut it back for the Portuguese to nod home.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Otto scored a classy goal in the 68th minute after a half-hour’s work of great work from Adama Traore, who built the play up with a powerful dribble from the right to find Jimenez and then Otto.

Otto cut left and then back to the right to turn and fire past Vicente Guaita in the 69th.

Ranking every Wolves player

Wolverhampton Wanderers
Photo by Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images
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Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have earned their success after the Wolves boss used only 20 players in the Premier League, four of whom going less than 200 minutes.

It hasn’t stopped the Wolves from living on the precipice of the top four.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Everyone loves a ranking.

Below we give each Wolves player a grade, ranking and grouping them together based on their season(s) so far.

If a Wolves player is listed in this ranking it is because they’ve played in more than five games in all competitions.


A-GRADE

Adama Traore: Only Kevin De Bruyne has a higher individual rating on WhoScored than Traore, who leads the league in successful dribbles per game with 5.2

Raul Jimenez: His 13 goals and seven assists come with 3.4 shots per game. That’s second-best in the Premier League to Mohamed Salah. He’s a force, and the fact that he’s done it while carrying tons of minutes is intense. How long will he stay?

Willy Boly: One of the best backs in the league, he missed 14 matches with injury. Wolves went 6W-5D-3L in that span, losing a fourth match when he was suspended for yellow card accumulation and a fifth with him on the bench awaiting full fitness. When Boly plays, Wolves are 4W-8D-1L.

Joao Moutinho: He’s good at absolutely everything, a passing maestro capable of the gritty stuff, too.

Matt Doherty
Rui Patricio

Willy Boly (Photo by Sam Bagnall – AMA/Getty Images)

B-GRADE

Diogo Jota: When he’s hot, he’s unstoppable. There’s a rich man’s Ayoze Perez quality to him, as Jota creates a lot more offense on his own than his Leicester City elder. Also: Real good at video games.

Leander Dendoncker: Only Coady and Moutinho have contributed more consistent quality passing to Espirito Santo’s side.

Ruben Neves: Known for his piledrivers from distance. Only five of the top 20 players for long ball completion in the league are field players. Neves and Conor Coady join goalkeeper Patricio in giving Wolves three players on that list.

Romain Saiss
Jonny


C-GRADE

Conor Coady: He’s played every minute of the Premier League season, so consider this ‘C’ for being unspectacular. Just shy of the B line.

Ruben Vinagre: Still just 21 and showing signs of taking the next step, but awaiting consistency. No surprise that his numbers are much better when he starts.

Pedro Neto
Ryan Bennett


D-GRADE

Patrick Cutrone: This went surprisingly poorly. Two goals in just 12 appearances on loan from Serie A.

Patrick Cutrone (right) with Ruben Neves in Europa League play  (Photo by Tim Goode/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images)

INCOMPLETE

Daniel Podence, Jesus Vallejo, Max Kilman, Morgan Gibbs-White

Man Utd, Wolves split spoils at Old Trafford

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There was nothing to separate Manchester United and Wolves in a scoreless draw at Old Trafford on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It was a terrific advertisement for Portugal, with Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Bruno Fernandes all putting together performances on the day.

The points earned move both to 35 points, one behind fifth-place Sheffield United.


Three things we learned

1. Fernandes the real deal: Bruno Fernandes didn’t get on the score sheet on debut, but the big money January signing showed United fans what they already knew they were missing. The Portuguese had over 100 touches, three shots on target, and a penchant for finding dangerous spaces. As much as any player can be worth the big prices thrown around these days, Fernandes showed signs of being worth his.

2. Wolves run the midfield, still: While Fernandes was pretty good and plenty promising, Wolves’ midfield duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho were the momentum merchants over 90 minutes. United had most of the ball, but Neves and Moutinho were sure to make sure the spaces to make plays were mostly well outside the danger areas.

3. Red Devils defend well: The Wolves back line wasn’t your proverbial chopped liver, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s men had a day. Even in moments when they were skinned, like Diogo Jota dicing up Victor Lindelof, the others were there to deal with the danger. Both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka had key moments out wide, and Maguire was strong in the middle.

Man of the Match: Moutinho posted 89 percent passes and connected on five of six long passes while winning seven of 10 duels, making six tackles and three interceptions.


Both clubs had chances early, the best an Andreas Pereira arrow well wide of the goal.

Wolves star Raul Jimenez was his influential self, and United needed Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire interventions in the first 23 minutes.

Adama Traore rocketed a 35th minute shot just over the goal.

Juan Mata laid off for Bruno Fernandes to rifle at Rui Patricio in the 40th, and Fernandes mishit another bid within 45 seconds.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Diogo Jota cooked Victor Lindelof in one of two early second half moments of promise without end product for Wolves.

Fred had a penalty call go unheard when his shot struck Joao Moutinho’s arm, and Fernandes hit a hopeful ball to Patricio as the match neared its final 20 minutes.

Substitute Mason Greenwood smashed a shot that took two turns before Patricio collected it in the 79th.

Maguire was denied off a set piece when Patricio raced off his line to close down the big back.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent in a beautiful cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time, but Diogo Dalot‘s stooping header bounded wide of the frame.

Wolves come back to beat misfiring Norwich City

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Wolves were far from their best but came back to beat wasteful Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Romain Saiss and Raul Jimenez scored for Wolves, who sit two points back of fourth place Chelsea and a point back of Sheffield United.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Norwich was ahead on a Todd Cantwell goal, but finishes the day six points back of 17th place Saints.


Three things we learned

1. Bad Wolves still win: For more than an hour, Wolves looked nothing like a side competing for a place in the Top Four. But Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men found a way to get the job done in coming back for their three points. That’s a good sign against a desperate home side.

2. The Year of Raul Jimenez continues: El Tri’s star striker is going as well as any center forward not named Robert Lewandowski. So it comes as little surprise that the Mexican was the man to supply the match-winning goal at Carrow Road. The stats now say 16 goals and eight assists in 28 matches this season, and Wolves’ only worry is the amount of teams who will try to woo him in January.

3. Pukki loses his powers: On another day, the Wolves’ poor first half sees this match done at half. But Teemu Pukki uncharacteristically missed two prime chances to make the match 2 (and 3) to nil at home. Emiliano Buendia was phenomenal for the Canaries and Cantwell pretty good, but few others showed up over 90 minutes.

Man of the Match: Raul was great, but it comes down to the Adama “Mou calls me a train” Traore and Rui Patricio. We’ll give it to the Portuguese goalkeeper for his saves on Pukki and others in Wolves’ win.


[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Wolves supplied some dreadful defending to allow Norwich to its opener, the Canaries doubtlessly pleased with the ease of Cantwell’s opener.

Kenny McLean was wide open for a huge diagonal ball, his dribbles and cutback poorly cleared to Cantwell.

Teemu Pukki slipped a shot past Patricio but wide of the goal in the 24th. No party, and he misfired again in the 44th minute after driving toward goal.

Emiliano Buendia came very close to 2-0 when a Wolves giveaway provided a chance to rip from atop the arc. It was deflected, but a corner not given to the Canaries.

They paid for the misses, as Saiss headed home from a Joao Moutinho cross at the hour mark and Jimenez did what he does best 21 minutes later.

Jota takes super sub to new level in Wolves win

Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images
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Sometimes the phrase “game changer” is used a bit too loosely, but there’s no debating Diogo Jota fit the bill to a ‘t’ on Thursday.

Wolves scored four times in 11 minutes, three coming courtesy Jota, as the Premier League side buried Besiktas 4-0 in Europa League play on Thursday.

Jota entered in the 56th minute, scored in the 57th, and completed his hat trick in the 68th.

[ MORE: Who can Wolves draw in UEL? ]

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men had already clinched a place in the knockout rounds before the match day, and finish one point below Braga in Group K.

Jota has five goals in five days after scoring twice against Brighton on Sunday. The 23-year-old had an up-and-down season to start but has been mostly good over the past half-dozen games.

He has 37 goals in 107 matches with Wolves, including nine in all competitions this season. He scored nine times last season after a 17-goal campaign in the Championship.

Leander Dendoncker had Wolves’ other goal, with the day’s assists going to Oskar Buur, Joao Moutinho, and Pedro Neto.