Brighton 3-3 Wolves Match Report

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Wolves let a 3-1 first half lead slip as a poor second half saw them produce 45 minutes full of tactical and defensive errors.

They fell behind early through a goal from Aaron Connolly after some slopping defending, however produced a marvellous turnaround with a brilliant Saiss header and a Dan Burn own goal. Ruben Neves scored a penalty in the latter stages of the first half after some scintillating wing-play from Adama Traore to put Wolves in a seemingly comfortable position.

However, their hard work was undone through two set pieces as Neal Maupay converted a penalty given away by Joao Moutinho, and then Lewis Dunk compounded the sides misery as he scored from a corner. 

Match Report

Wolves needed a win. Their form going into this game was one of concern despite the heroic defensive display seen at Manchester United a few days ago. 

Fan’s worries might have been justified as they were put on the back foot right away as Brighton began the game with intent and vigour. The early pressure told as Leandro Trossard sold Rayan Ait-Nouri and put in a cross which was poorly read by Rui Patricio and Saiss, Connolly stole in to head the home side ahead on 13 minutes and we looked in trouble.

However, the response was better than we could have ever hoped. In keeping with the trend using four at the back, the team were quick to turn defence into attack and the pace of Pedro Neto and Adama Traore was a joy to watch. Vitinha was creating space and finding areas in which to create, whilst Ruben Neves was spraying passing around with the elegance of a fine artist. 

The reward came on 19 minutes when Nelson Semedo put in a delightful cross on to the head of Romain Saiss, who floated his header into the far corner. The momentum switched instantly, and Wolves played some of the best football we have seen all season. 

The lead came 15 minutes later as Pedro Neto had a long-range effort deflected towards goal which Brighton Goalkeeper Robert Sanchez parried on to the leg of Dan Burn, which saw the ball roll over the line. 

Wolves continued to press the advantage as Traore and Neto ran the show cutting inside and causing problems on the inside channels as well as getting to the byline and troubling the Seagulls’ fullbacks.

They then doubled their advantage as Traore ran past Dan Burn (he had a torrid evening) and was then hacked down by the defender in the box to give Wolves a penalty. Ruben Neves then stepped up and scored his first goal since February (that one coming against Espanyol). The lead was comfortable, and the fans were positive.

What ensued in the second half was nothing short of chaos. They began with Moutinho giving away a needless penalty which saw Maupay reduce the lead to just one after less than a minute of the second half.

This is where things got worse. Nuno has come under plenty of stick this season due to the repeated questionable tactical decisions made this season – and this game was no different. On 65 minutes he withdrew the excellent Vitinha in order to switch to a back five, bringing on Max Kilman in his stead. With fans online berating the defensive mindset, it was in the air that the supporters knew what was coming. 

Sure enough, in the 70th minute, their worst fears were confirmed. Lewis Dunk rose highest from a corner (another weakness of Wolves this season) to head past Patricio and level the game up, and from there on out it was Wolves playing for a draw. They shot themselves in the foot with poor defending and the decision to put themselves on the back foot by Nuno certainly left the fans with a lot of questions.

There were a few moments where it looked like a Brighton winner was on the cards, but the Wolves backline was resolute for the first time in the game, bit late if you ask me, and held out well against the barrage of attacks. 

At a time where the team needed a goal and a possible outlet up top, Nuno then brought off striker Fabio Silva for defensive midfielder Owen Otasowie – a truly baffling decision. Ironically the change almost paid off as Otasowie missed a golden opportunity in the last second of the game as his header from 10 yards was skied over the bar. 

The game ended with fans livid and with plenty of questions for the head coach who, for the first time in his Wolves tenure, is genuinely being called into question. 

 

Man of the Match – Ruben Neves

Maybe an under the radar pick, but I thought Ruben really stood out in midfield today. His passing and work rate in the middle of the park was superb, topped off with a goal which was nice to see. Pedro was in for a shout today as well as Adama, but I think Mr Consistent deserves some praise for this performance.

Final Thoughts

Where do we even start? I want to keep it short and sweet for those who get bored of reading, but the second half was unbelievably bad. People are asking questions of Nuno and for the first time he is in genuine trouble if solutions are not found. He mentions it so often in his press conferences, so it is about time the team found some solutions to the issues they have. The defending at times was frantic and unorganised, the team sit back far too much and the mentality of the tactics has to change. As a club, Fosun have spoken about success and competing for titles, with this current way of playing we will not even compete for the top 10.  A big January is needed to reinforce what is a paper-thin and lacking squad. 

Tom Parker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.