Wolves produced a resilient but accomplished performance to inflict treble-winning Manchester City’s first league defeat of the season. With Molineux already a cauldron given the return of Matheus Nunes, Gary O’Neil and the Wolves players rose to the occasion, limiting City’s attacking potential to largely long-range efforts and frightening them on the counter, producing an own goal from Ruben Dias and a winner from Hwang Hee-chan. Far from a smash and grab, Wolves competed in the game marvellously and their tactical discipline and individual attacking quality made them worthy winners on a truly memorable afternoon.
Jose Sa – 8
Fresh off a new contract, Sa answered some critics with an authoritative performance to hold off the champions. He made a fantastic save from a long range Manuel Akanji shot alongside a couple of strong claims from crosses. His distribution was calmer and his kicking more accurate. While his defence made his life easy, he showed the consistency he can offer.
Nelson Semedo – 9
Semedo was absolutely outstanding, producing one of his very best Wolves performances. He kept both Jérémy Doku and latterly Jack Grealish quiet, refusing to allow them to beat him and showing patience to stop them penetrating the inside channels. He also did most of the work to create the winner with an outstanding burst forward before putting in a cross that caused City all sorts of problems before falling to Hwang.
Maximilian Kilman – 7
Kilman looked comfortable on the right side of defence, bringing the ball out and playing a couple of good passes, including 4/6 successful long passes (Sofascore), one of which set Semedo away for the winning goal. Covered by Dawson’s work against Haaland he didn’t shine, but it was hard to be critical of anyone in old gold today.
Craig Dawson – 9
Dawson could barely have performed better, marshalling Erling Haaland to the point where he was a non-factor. He nicked an early tap in off the Norwegian’s toes, cleared the ball off the line and 5 other clearances, blocked 3 shots and won both his aerial duels (Sofascore). It’s hard to imagine a much better centre back showing against an attack with so much quality.
Toti Gomes – 6
Toti’s relatively good athleticism was a useful foil for Kilman and Dawson, and he showed that he is of the level to be making contributors for Wolves in huge games. While he lost the ball a couple of times, he helped keep the defensive shape as part of an exceptional performance from the centre back unit.
Rayan Aït-Nouri – 7
Aït-Nouri was excellent again after his performance against Liverpool was cut short by a knock. He mirrored Semedo by refusing to let any City pressure develop down Wolves’ left. His technical qualities, direct running and work rate allowed him to support the attackers and he barely made an error. An accomplished performance from a man who has thrived after looking set to leave Molineux in the summer
Mario Lemina – 6
Wolves’ midfield was asked to do dirty work, effectively looking to provide a further line of defence. Lemina made 4 clearances (Sofascore) and did his job spacing, mostly sitting directly on the edge of the box, demanding City pass around and limiting his potential to break up play. Him and Gomes will have better individual games but both made vital contributions to the Wolves defensive effort.
João Gomes – 6
Gomes showed his tenacity, offering bite in a Wolves midfield which might have looked under-manned with the additional centre back. He has had better games, and he lost possession on a few occasions as well as committing a number of fouls in the Wolves third, one of which led to City’s goal. However, his energy and desire was vital in helping Wolves protect the back line, and he sprung a couple of Wolves counter attacks with his willingness to cover ground and play the ball forwards.
Matheus Cunha – 8
With questions about his ability to play through the middle, Cunha showed the elements that have made him so appreciated by Wolves fans. He pressed hard and showed how good he is at moving the ball in transition, running with the ball and being unlucky to lose possession at the end of an exceptional move in the second half. He set up Hwang’s goal with some impressive awareness and left everything on the pitch before being substituted on 86 minutes.
Hwang Hee-chan – 8
The match winner showed his golden touch with the second goal in the 66th minute. His composure to hit the target meant he has accumulated 4 goals from 1.01 xG this season (Sofascore), providing a goal threat which Wolves have been without for some time. He worked hard defensively to help out Aït-Nouri and linked well with him and Cunha. Hwang and Pedro Neto continue to produce when Wolves need them.
Pedro Neto – 9
Neto was exceptional from minute one once again for Wolves, terrorising Nathan Ake with his pace, measuring each touch perfectly and chasing every single ball out over the top for him. He raced 60 yards or so to force Ruben Dias to concede an own goal early on and his performances see him top of the Premier League’s assist chart. His renaissance is a joy to watch and he continues to make match-defining contributions.
Boubacar Traoré – 8
Traoré’s cameo was vital, as he took over from a flagging João Gomes. He fitted in in the right channel defensively and helped get the ball upfield to provide an outlet. Involved himself significantly in the final thirty minutes.
Matt Doherty – 7
Doherty came in at left wing back to replace the excellent Aït-Nouri, and largely did his job to help Wolves hold out.
Jonny Otto & Fabio Silva (N/A)
Both came on late and did the jobs they had to, with Silva having a strong run to help ease the pressure on Wolves in stoppage time.