Pedro Neto’s 56th-minute strike gave Wolves three points to end their losing run, but the performance was less than convincing with the visitors spurning late chances.
The result leaves Wolves with six points from their first four Premier League games, while Fulham are stranded at the bottom and are yet to get off the mark after returning to the top-flight.
Wolves 1-0 Fulham Reaction
After a disappointing result and performance against West Ham last week Nuno saw fit to make three changes to the side, bringing in Max Kilman, Leander Dendoncker and Daniel Podence to replace Ruben Vinagre, Joao Moutinho and Adama Traore.
The key pre-match talking point came at left-wing back. With Vinagre in Athens to seal a move to Olympiakos, Marcal not fit and incoming signing Rayan Ait-Nouri not yet confirmed, Wolves did not have an available player for the role. This meant Romain Saiss had to fill in on the left hand side, with Kilman tucking into the back three behind him.
Dendoncker’s introduction into the midfield alongside Neves was expected by most Wolves fans after last week’s hammering, while Podence was fit again after being ruled out of the trip to London with a shoulder injury.
Fulham switched to a back four after their 3-0 cup defeat to Championship Brentford, while former Wolves favourite Ivan Cavaleiro returned to Molineux for the first time.
Despite the changes, Wolves started sluggishly and played most of the game with the lethargy that has become synonymous with the side this season. Fulham had the first shot of the game through Robinson, while Nuno’s side created just one clear scoring opportunity in the first 45 when Neto’s strong shot was saved by Areola before the Frenchman superbly blocked Semedo’s close-range follow up.
The second half started in similar fashion before Wolves finally attacked Fulham’s vulnerable defence. Jimenez was put through on goal but his tame shot was saved by Areola, before the game’s definitive moment saw Neto fire home from the edge of the box after Dendoncker’s close-range effort was blocked.
Wolves then invited pressure by switching to a 3-5-2 formation, which really could have cost them. Almost straight after the switch, Aboubakar Kamara was found free in the box by Aleksandar Mitrovic, but the Frenchman fired straight at Patricio when it looked easier to score.
Fulham enjoyed more chances in the last ten minutes, with a ball across the face of goal just missing Mitrovic before Neeskens Kebano fired just over in injury time.
The final whistle sealed a valuable win for Wolves, but lingering questions over Nuno’s new ‘Wolves 4.0’ side were certainly not answered.
Wolves 1-0 Fulham Key moments
27′ – Semedo smothered
Wolves’ first shot on target took just over a quarter of the game to arrive, as Neto’s long-range effort is parried by Areola before the Frenchman did brilliantly to deny Semedo a first Wolves goal from close range.
55′ – Jimenez put through
Wolves’ number 9 was found through on goal but his tame shot was easily saved by Areola.
56′ – Neto puts Wolves ahead
The deadlock was broken by Wolves’ number 7 who fired into the bottom corner following Dendoncker’s blocked shot.
73′ – Fulham’s best chance
Fulham break at lightning pace following a Wolves free-kick. Mitrovic cuts back to find a free Aboubakar Kamara, but his shot from 10 yards out is straight at Rui Patricio.
Man of the Match- Pedro Neto
For the second straight week the Portuguese winger was a Wolves standout, but this time in a positive result. As well as providing the game’s crucial moment, Neto provided Wolves’ only real attacking threat against the league’s worst defence. The 20-year-old set up the only clear-cut opening in the first half by taking a shot at Areola and was a constant thorn in Fulham’s side. In a game with little quality, Neto provided the difference between Wolves and the league’s bottom side.
Things to improve
As with most of Wolves’ games against lesser opposition since promotion in 2018, they struggled to create many clear-cut chances and rarely attacked a vulnerable Fulham defence. With this being a disappointing common theme for the last two years, Wolves fans were sold a new model of play, dubbed ‘Wolves 4.0’ by local media.
Despite this, the Molineux faithful are yet to see the front foot, attacking football they were promised, which really needs to change ahead of a tough trip to Elland Road after the international break and two favourable looking home games against Newcastle and Crystal Palace.
Shutting up shop too early
After Wolves brought off Podence for Moutinho on 71 minutes and switched to a 3-5-2, they came under attack from swathes of Fulham pressure. This isn’t the first time a formation switch has put Wolves under unnecessary duress, with the most recent example being the Europa League round of 16 second leg against Olympiakos.
This is something Nuno has to stop if Wolves are going to see out games better. His side were under next to no pressure before the switch, even looking likely to score a second with a second Semedo effort being dragged wide, but the lack of attacking urgency following the substitution killed Wolves’ momentum and gave Fulham confidence. If Wolves are to boost their goal difference against struggling sides, this has to change.