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Wolves 1-1 Southampton: Pedro Neto earns hosts point

Theo Walcott rolled back the years with his first Southampton goal in 15 years but was denied victory as Pedro Neto earned Wolves a 1-1 draw at Molineux.

Walcott turned in Che Adams' square ball 13 minutes after half-time to give the Saints a lead which would have taken them within a point of leaders Tottenham and Liverpool.

They had been indebted to the good work of Alex McCarthy to keep Wolves at bay until that point, but with 15 minutes to go the goalkeeper could do nothing to keep Neto from beating him after Raul Jimenez had struck the base of the post.

Minutes before that goal, Walcott should have doubled his tally and Southampton's lead after more fine support work from Adams but rolled his effort wide with only Rui Patricio to beat.

Player ratings

Wolves: Patricio (7), Semedo (6), Boly (6), Kilman (5), Ait-Nouri (6), Moutinho (6), Neves (6), Dendoncker (6), Traore (6), Podence (7), Jimenez (7).

Subs: Neto (7), Vitinha (n/a).

Southampton: McCarthy (7), Walker-Peters (6), Vestergaard (7), Bednarek (6), Bertrand (6), Romeu (6), Ward-Prowse (6), Armstrong (6), Walcott (7), Djenepo (6), Adams (8).

Subs: Long (6), Diallo (n/a).

Man of the match: Che Adams

Instead, Wolves' point moved them into the top half above Arsenal and Manchester United, and up to ninth.

How Saints earned deserved point at Molineux

The final game of the weekend saw Wolves line up without Conor Coady for the first time in the Premier League since the start of 2018/19. Such was the impact of his absence, Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo set his team up with a back four in a rare change from their regular three-man defence.

The change in shape did little to inhibit his side in the opening minutes, with Nelson Semedo and Leander Dendoncker testing McCarthy in quick succession before Walcott, whose professional debut came against Wolves in August 2005, fired straight at Patricio from a tight angle.

Stuart Armstrong then fired just wide from Adams' slide-rule pass forward, before McCarthy provided more acrobatics to tip away Daniel Podence's glancing header from a free-kick.

Team news

  • Wolves named a Premier League line-up without Conor Coady for the first time since their promotion in 2018.
  • Danny Ings remained absent for Southampton, who welcomed Ryan Bertrand back from injury.

Goalmouth action had been largely at a premium before half-time but Wolves have made a habit of improving after the break, and seven minutes into the second period McCarthy again denied Podence from the Portugal forward's near-post drive.

Soon Walcott would provide a moment of real Saints nostalgia when Adams beat Max Kilman at the second attempt from the byline to find the Everton loanee, who was left with a simple finish at the far post for his first Southampton goal in 5,434 days, since scoring in an FA Cup win over MK Dons in January 2006.

He could have made himself a likely matchwinner when Adams outmuscled the Wolves defence and set him away with a superb pass, but lost his nerve at the crucial moment and fired wide of Patricio's right-hand post.

That miss would come back to bite Southampton within minutes as Wolves levelled. After Jimenez was allowed time to swivel and shoot he left McCarthy helpless as the ball rebounded off the base of his far post before Neto, who had only come on five minutes earlier, equalised for the hosts.

The goalkeeper did get the better of Neto from Wolves' next attack, with Kyle Walker-Peters breathing a sigh of relief after being robbed of the ball, only for McCarthy to bail him out thanks to a smart save with his feet, in the final chance of note in an even game.

What the managers said

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo: "It was a good game, a very intense game, with high tempo from both teams.

"In the first half we wanted to play better, but Southampton are a very good team, they played very well, they pressed very well. In the second half we reacted very well to their goal, we wanted to go for it, to create chances, and we were very aggressive when Southampton wanted to counter-attack. I'm happy and very proud of the boys.

"Conor (Coady) and (Romain) Saiss were not available, we decided to go with three midfielders and it was good. We should grow, we should find solutions, we have an identity - it is about more than the system, but the idea that we have.

"We fight, we try to play well, and we try to be solid, and we managed that."

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl: "I'm happy. It was, for everyone, a tough game. It was tactically so demanding, like a game of chess. We had a 4-3-3 we didn't expect but we didn't have a problem with it, we showed how flexible we are to find the answers, and in the final third we might not have had 100 per cent conviction but in the second half we had good game management.

"You score the first goal, and think maybe we'll get the three points because keeping on going and defending well, maybe we have a chance. But we knew it would be a long way to go, and it was a deserved draw for both teams. You saw two teams fighting tactically on a very high level against each other, and to take a point here, I'm very happy."

Man of the match - Che Adams

Adams has looked a player reborn since the lockdown, and though he could not add to his three strikes in his previous four games, he played a major part in Southampton's goal and should have made another had Walcott kept his shooting boots on.

Even before half-time he had made a glorious chance for Stuart Amstrong which again went unfinished, but the ex-Birmingham player has certainly turned his spell at St Mary's around from the struggles of his opening season on the south coast.

Opta facts

  • Wolves have lost just one of their last seven home Premier League games (W4 D2) and just two of their last 12 in the competition at Molineux (W6 D4).
  • Southampton are unbeaten in seven consecutive Premier League games (W5 D2), last going longer without defeat in the competition in November 2013 (8 games in total).
  • Since the start of last season, Wolves have failed to score in the first half of 34 Premier League games, more than any other side.
  • Conor Coady missed a Premier League game for Wolves for the first time since they returned to the top-flight (2018-19), having played every minute of his side's last 84 fixtures prior to tonight, the third-longest consecutive 100% participation for an outfield player in the competition's history (Wayne Bridge 112, Leighton Baines 99).
  • Theo Walcott's opener for Southampton was his first league goal for the club since December 11th 2005 (v Luton Town in the Championship), 14 years and 347 days ago.
  • Wolves striker Raúl Jiménez made his 85th consecutive appearance in the Premier League (82 starts, 3 sub apps), the joint-longest current run in the competition (level with Leicester 'keeper Kasper Schmeichel).
  • Che Adams has been directly involved in six goals in his last seven Premier League games for Southampton (3 goals, 3 assists), as many goal involvements as he managed in his 32 appearances before that for the Saints.
  • Two of Pedro Neto's five Premier League goals for Wolves have come against Southampton, while only Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher (five each) have netted more goals as a substitute for the club in the competition than Neto (two).

What's next?

Wolves travel to Arsenal in Sunday's tea-time game on Super Sunday.

Southampton are also back on the box this Sunday when they host Manchester United.

Source: Sky Sports / Ron Walker

 

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