Wolves saw a result fall away in the dying seconds of a game for the second time in just seven days after a late Chris Wood penalty gave Burnley a share of the spoils at Turf Moor. It was an impressive and dominant display from the away side after Nuno made four changes to the team which beat Everton 3-0 at Molineux on Sunday, and after Raul Jimenez’s stunning opener Wolves looked on course to take all three points. However, deep into stoppage time, Mike Dean gave a penalty for an unfortunate handball by Matt Doherty to earn Burnley a point.
Burnley 1-1 Wolves Reaction
Burnley (4-4-2): Pope, Beardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor, Pieters, Westwood, Brownhill, McNeill, Wood, Rodriguez (Subs Used: Gudmunsson, Vydra, Brady)
Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Traore, Moutinho, Neves, Vinagre, Podence, Jimenez, Jota (Subs Used: Doherty, Neto, Dendoncker, Jonny)
Nuno surprised many by making four changes to the starting Xi which beat Everton 3-0 at Molineux on Sunday, with Adama Traore, Joao Moutinho, Ruben Vinagre and Diogo Jota replacing Leander Dendoncker, Matt Doherty, Jonny Otto and Pedro Neto who picked up a knock in Sunday’s win. Wolves stuck with the popular 3-4-3 formation with Adama Traore playing right wing-back. It looked as if Nuno was aiming to target Burnley’s fullbacks Phil Beardsley and Neil Taylor with the pace and flair Wolves’ wide players have to offer. Burnley named an unchanged side following their impressive draw at Anfield at the weekend, sticking with their familiar 4-4-2 formation.
Despite the array of pace and talent Wolves had in both the wing-back and wide forward positions, Wolves did not overload the flanks as some perhaps expected them to do. Instead, Vinagre and Traore were tasked with the responsibility of providing the width to attacks while Diogo Jota and Daniel Podence provided Raul Jimenez with support in the penalty area. This was clear throughout the first half and, to a point, you can understand the thinking here. However, the height and physicality of both Diogo Jota and Daniel Podence offered little in the way of threat in the Wolves penalty area despite both Traore and Vinagre having joy down the flanks. It was promising to once again see an increased first-half intensity compared to what was nothing short of lacklustre in Wolves’ opening games after the re-start. Wolves’ movement was clever and unpredictable among the front three, with Jota and Podence looking to exploit the gap between the two banks of four with which Burnley defend, looking to run at the Burnley backline at every opportunity. This was evident when Podence cleverly played Jota over the top, but the Portuguese international fired just wide.
Another area which Wolves have made an improvement on recent affairs is from their attacking set-pieces, which proved to be dangerous all be it inconsistent at Turf Moor. For all Moutinho’s strengths and admirable qualities, his set-piece taking can at times leave a lot to be desired. However, all three in-swinging corners in which he took in the first half against Burnley caused an extremely strong aerial team a lot of trouble. Wolves should have been Infront when the Burnley defence failed to deal with a corner across the six-yard box which somehow found its way to Romain Saiss who could not adjust in time and sent the ball over the bar. Despite gaining five corners in the first half, many of which caused dangerous moments in the penalty area, Wolves could not produce the same threatening situations in the second half where they were less dominant.
The home side improved greatly in the second period and began to play with increased confidence and also intelligence. The long balls forward now had intention after mere hopeful clearances in the first half. Another notable change from the first half was the intensity with which the home side pressed, trying to close the Wolves back three and midfield two down to win the ball in attacking areas. This meant Wolves had to adapt as, in the first half, Burnley had been quite happy to allow Wolves to keep the ball in non-threatening areas at their will. These improvements ultimately allowed Burnley to gain a foothold in the game and play more promising balls into the area which Wood and substitute Vydra could attack and Wolves struggled to deal with.
Wolves’ best attacking movement of the second half resulted in the opening goal as Adama Traore broke forwards having won the ball deep in his own half as he laid the ball off to Doherty who’s deflected effort fell to Raul Jimenez who fired home brilliantly. Wolves certainly would have benefitted from more of these phases of play in the second half, with Adama Traore being pushed further forward after Doherty replaced Daniel Podence allowing Wolves to turn defence into attack through central areas.
As the game ticked on and edged towards its conclusion, Wolves reverted to 3-5-2 with Leander Dendoncker adding the extra body in the midfield. This may have seemed like a sensible move however Wolves completely lost their attacking intent after this change and struggled to keep the ball further up the pitch, allowing Burnley to win the ball back and play those threatening balls towards the penalty area. Pedro Neto looked lively but did not have the physical capacity to hold the ball up and keep Wolves in possession, a quality that both Jimenez and Traore have in abundance. Ultimately, Burnley’s late pressure paid off as Wolves failed to deal with the balls into the area and win second balls. Following a huge let off where Chris Wood missed from just three yards, Wolves conceded a harsh penalty which was dispatched by the striker to make amends and leave Wolves facing a difficult task to achieve Europa League football again next season.
Burnley 1-1 Wolves Key Moments
A stunning strike from the Mexican international after brilliant work from Adama Traore. As Burnley looked to press forward Traore showed good resilience to win the ball back deep in his own half and bring the ball forward down the centre of the field seeing off four Burnley players in the process. Traore then showed good awareness to lay off Matt Doherty whose long-range strike deflected off Tarkowski and straight into the path of Raul Jimenez. The Wolves centre forward still had it all to do, however, as he volleyed home superbly as the ball fell at knee height right into the corner of the net giving in form goalkeeper Nick Pope no chance.
Wood Penalty Incident/Wood Goal
With less than two minutes remaining Burnley lofted yet another dangerous ball into the Wolves penalty area which Chris Wood attacked with a speculative overhead kick. Despite completely missing the ball, Wood managed to put off substitute Matt Doherty who attacked the ball anticipating contact from Wood. Unfortunately for the Wolves man, the ball dropped onto his arm and Mike Dean pointed to the spot. It was a harsh call, but you can certainly understand why the referee has given it based on what he would have seen. Should VAR have overturned? Well, there is certainly a case to be made, but Kevin Friend felt there was no clear and obvious error and the penalty stood. Chris Wood emphatically dispatched the penalty and Burnley earned a point just minutes after Wood had missed an open goal.
Burnley 1-1 Wolves Man of the Match
A common theme since the re-start is the consistency of midfielder Ruben Neves. Joined by familiar partner Joao Moutinho, Neves once again dominated the midfield in both defending and attacking phases of play. He was again seen in the Wolves penalty area block shots and crosses while also aiming to win the ball back and start an attack at the earliest opportunity. Having done so to great effect in the win against Everton setting Diogo Jota free for Wolves’ third goal, Neves looked for openings once more, but Burnley stood resolute. His speculative effort mid-way through the second half was easy for Nick Pope but proved to spark a change in intensity from Wolves who had been on the back foot in the opening stages of the second half. Another disappointing night for Wolves, but another promising performance from the midfield maestro.
Things to Improve
It was no surprise to see Burnley’s now customary style of play where the long balls upfield to the front two would try to create chances. However, Wolves failed to deal with any second balls that Burnley would create from these hopeful punts downfield which ultimately brought on unnecessary pressure. This became even more crucial in stoppage time when a dangerous ball in found Patricio in no man’s land as Vydra knocked own for Wood to somehow head wide. Just one minute later Brady’s dangerous cross was once again met by a Burnley head which ultimately saw a penalty given. These balls into the box quite simply have to be dealt with, and Wolves were nowhere near winning the initial ball into the box or the second ball which subsequently came from it. A harsh penalty maybe, but the entire situation was avoidable from a defensive point of view.
After an incredibly strong and solid defensive showing in Wolves’ first three games after the re-start, they have since shown episodes of complacency which have ultimately cost vital points in the race for a European spot next season. For the second time in just seven days, Wolves have thrown away points on the road in the dying seconds of the game, and points which may have handed the initiative to Sheffield United who could move into sixth place with a win over Leicester City at the King Power on Thursday evening. If they had managed to defend the corner at Sheffield United and the cross from Burnley in the dying embers of the game, Wolves would find themselves in a relatively comfortable position in terms of qualifying for the Europa League, but now have a serious battle on their hands in the final two games of the season where their concentration in the latter stages of the game quite simply must improve.
It is almost hard to believe that the stern and solid Wolves that conceded no goals and no clear-cut chances in the first three games since the re-start have since given away three points in the final minutes of crucial games since. It was an incredibly harsh decision late in the game, and not something Doherty could do an awful lot about. However, Wolves are not completely faultless in this scenario and must improve going into the final two games of the season which they now must win if they are to qualify for the Europa League next season.
Ciaran Barker is part of the Talking Wolves editorial team – you can follow him on Twitter here.