Wolves fell to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City at the Etihad. City opened the scoring with a Leander Dendoncker own goal before Conor Coady equalised for Wolves in the second half.
The home side turned up a gear in the last 10 minutes to score three goals and seal a comfortable win.
The win sees them go 28 matches unbeaten whilst Wolves remain firmly in the lower half of the table.
This was always going to be an incredibly difficult game for Wolves, City have been in ridiculously good form and seem to be an immovable object on their way to the Premier League title.
It was no surprise then that Nuno went with a defensive team to try and play on the counter attack, with Nelson Semedo taking up the right-wing position for the first time this season.
It was clear from kick off Wolves weren’t going to be making much of an attempt to get forward , the team sat back very deep and at times were camped inside their won penalty area. Manchester City dominated possession and played it around Wolves with the ease you’d expect of a Pep Guardiola teams.
Raheem Sterling was a constant threat getting in between Ki-Jana Hoever and Dendoncker and forced Rui Patricio into a smart save early on – a theme which would continue. On the rare occasion Wolves won back the ball, they struggled to complete the most simple five or six yard passes and many of the City chances came from Wolves being sloppy in and around their own box.
It was telling of how good City were when the defence was still getting beaten with balls over the top and through balls despite being sat so deep. The pace of their attacks paid off in the 15th minute when Dendoncker deflected a cross into his own net, although he didn’t have much choice with Sterling right behind him.
The relentless attacks didn’t stop there as the home side were keen to press their advantage with Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo whipping in crosses from deep to cause the backline issues. For the most part the defence stood strong, with Patricio collecting well and the back three doing just about enough to smother the ball out or through to their goalkeeper.
City thought they had a second from those crosses when Aymeric Laporte scored towards the end of the first half, however VAR showed he was just offside when Bernardo Silva flicked on the cross towards him and the goal was ruled out. The call was extremely tight and many thought (including Wolves fans) that they were fortunate to only be down by one goal at the break.
With only 19% possession in the first half it was clear Wolves needed to step things up big time and they made a switch to a higher pressing line in order to try and pressure City into mistakes. Whilst they looked to have more getting forward, they still had the issue of trying to contain the attacking threat which so many teams have struggled to do this season.
They almost went 2-0 down early in the second half when De Bruyne found himself with space to shoot after a slick move, but his low curled shot was brilliantly saved by Patricio to keep the score down.
Wolves were even more thankful on 51 minutes (just a few minutes later) when they won a free around 27 yards out and Joao Moutinho delivered a fantastic ball on to the head of Conor Coady, he duly converted a superb header and scored his first ever Premier League goal with his first ever shot on target.
It was against the run of play, but Wolves had their foothold back in the game and they took it with open arms. The goal gave the team the energy and confidence to put City under pressure. Joao Moutinho was a player transformed as he was winning the midfield battle with supreme ease.
It was the Portuguese who almost created Wolves’ chance for a second when he placed a brilliantly time challenge to start a counter attack. Wolves had five on three but when Pedro Neto’s ball fell to Adama Traore inside the penalty, he blazed over their best chance of the game.
The home side still carried their threat through Gabriel Jesus and Sterling however, and both should’ve got on the score sheet. Jesus had broke free of the Wolves defence but his flashed shot was somehow tipped away yet again by Patricio to keep the scores level. Sterling also picked out a fantastic curled effort from around 24 yards, but his strike clipped the outside of the post.
Wolves eventually broke when Kye Walker saw his pass across the face of goal blocked off by about four Wolves defenders – only for Jesus to smash home the rebound and give City a deserved lead. On replays it showed that Nelson Semedo, for the second game running, had kept Walker onside by being behind the teams defensive when he should’ve pushed up.
The floodgates then opened as Wolves ran out of steam, and substitute Owen Otasowie was a victim of that. After many calls to start by the fans this wouldn’t have been his ideal contribution. In his own box he tried to dribble his way out of trouble, but gave the ball away to Rodri who squared to Ilkay Gundogan, who then played it to Riyad Mahrez to strike home for 3-1.
The fourth came not long after as a long range effort caught Patricio off-guard and his parry fell straight to Jesus who tapped home for this second of the game, despite the goal being initially ruled out for offside VAR overturned the decision and Wolves were harshly falling to an emphatic defeat.
Man of the Match – Rui Patricio
There’s no doubt in my mind this time. The Portuguese stopper was sensational in this one, kept Wolves in the game with some magnificent saves and came out to punch and collect crosses all evening. Really showing why he is Wolves’ undisputed no.1 goalkeeper. A real shame he conceded four goals as his performance deserved better – but he will take personal acclaim for a very solid performance. However- it says a lot that he was brilliant even though Wolves conceded four, where would Wolves have been without him?
Well it is Manchester City. Whilst some will see it as a defeatist mentality, this team has been so good this season that there’s no shame in losing to them. Wolves have given them good games over the years and so it was disappointing to see how negative the team were for the majority of this game. We used to press and fight against the big boys of the league and now it seems as though that same level of intensity has gone, whilst It was an understandable approach we are used to seeing Wolves playing better. The passing and attacking play was sloppy and three of the four goals were avoidable. They will be kicking themselves, but considering this was a free-hit they can all move on and focus on the big game against Aston Villa this weekend.