Wolves fell to a third defeat in five games as a late Michael Keane header gave Everton all three points at Molineux.
The toffees took the lead only five minutes in when Alex Iwobi fired in a beautiful finish, only to see his goal cancelled out 10 minutes later by Ruben Neves who emphatically volleyed home Rayan Ait-Nouri’s cross in from 12 yards.
The game was a stalemate in the second half until Keane met a wonderful cross from Andre Gomes to claim what was the winner and get Everton their sixth away win of the season.
After a revitalising win against Crystal Palace on Friday Wolves fans were hoping that the tide could turn, and they could get a decent result against an in-form Everton side.
With no wins in their last five matches in the Premier League before this match, they needed some sort of a lift.
The start they had was not what was needed, after some promising moments from both sides it was the away side who struck first five minutes in. James Rodriguez played a marvellous switch out to Lucas Digne, who found Alex Iwobi with pinpoint accuracy. Iwobi finished his effort with great aplomb but the defending was again poor from Wolves, with no players looking to react and get first to the ball.
The reaction was what Wolves needed as they attacked with greater vigour and looked dangerous with Pedro Neto pulling the strings in attack. The Portuguese was the main outlet for the side as Morgan Gibbs-White struggled to make too much of an impact coming in off the right-hand side.
Despite them looking more confident going forward, Everton looked dangerous on the counterattack and Alex Iwobi could have scored a second as he was released down Wolves’ left but fired his shot straight at Rui Patricio.
Fabio Silva also had a chance to put Wolves ahead when a cross fell to him, but his effort was fired straight at Jordan Pickford. After the frantic start to the half, it became more of a midfield contest with neither side able to assert their authority on the game. It became very stop-start with fouls being committed all over the pitch and it was clear Wolves needed more going forward, as Silva was struggling to get into the game.
The second half brought more of the same as Nuno’s side failed to make their chances count, time and time again they were able to break at Everton’s backline, but a combination of good defending and a lack of potency harmed the team. Ben Godfrey was a stalwart in defence for the Toffees and made Fabio Silva look like a fool as he burst past the Portuguese striker and collected possession as he looked to be in on goal.
It seemed as though the side had lost the ability to find a way through, and their best chances came through Ruben Neves. He very nearly recreated his goal against Derby with a deft flick and volley, but this time he saw his effort fly just wide. The momentum was with Wolves and for a team in the top 4, Everton were surprisingly below par – albeit they were missing Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
The confusing tactical decisions then started to crop up again as Nuno brought off Morgan Gibbs-White and played Right-Back Ki-Jana Hoever in his position. This led to an imbalance on the right hand side as Hoever (despite being a brilliant prospect) didn’t have the attacking ability to play on the wing and struggled to really make a difference. This change signifies the lack of depth in the squad and reinforces why signings are needed – despite there being signs that none will be made. They almost went behind when the toffees broke free again, but Conor Coady was on hand to clear brilliantly with a sublime sliding challenge.
With 15 minutes to go it was the away side who took the lead. Andre Gomes found the time and space to whip in a delightful cross which was met emphatically by Michael Keane who powered his header back across goal into the top far corner. The lack of a challenge on him will be the concern, as he was allowed to head with enough space to pick his spot, and it highlighted the defensive frailties which have plagued Wolves this season.
Patrick Cutrone was brought on far too late with 1 minutes to go to replace the ineffective Fabio Silva, but the game was in the away side’s hands. Wolves pressed forward as much as they could with Neto again causing all sorts of issues. It was him that then won a free kick 23 yards out against Abdoulaye Doucoure, which was unfortunately crashed against the post by the superb Neves. After that, it was another stalemate and Everton saw the game out to claim the three points.
Man of the Match – Ruben Neves
I know I’m on the verge of sounding boring but in a season of poor performances, this man does nothing but stand out amongst the rest. Again a constant presence in midfield and was the catalyst for most of Wolves’ creative output. Got the equalising goal, scoring for the second successive Premier League match, and on another day could have got two more. He and Pedro Neto are levels above everyone else at the moment.
Normal service resumed ey? Just like that we’re back to square one and wondering how on earth Wolves are going to pick themselves up from a slump like this – they are in relegation form. The goals need to pick up from somewhere, but first and foremost they need to learn how to defend again. Everything is far too reactive and even the substitutes feel that way, things need to pick up before West Brom because otherwise the fans will be really starting to turn on the side. Additions are sorely needed, but in this current climate, Fosun are unlikely to spend the cash. They need to hope that players coming back from injury will help the cause because the season is rapidly fading into what could be a troublesome campaign.