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Crystal Palace 1 Wolves 1 - Report and pictures

By Rosie Swarbrick | Wolves | Published:

Diogo Jota's last-gasp strike saw scenes of jubilation as Wolves completed a late fightback at Selhurst Park.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men found themselves 1-0 down in the 46th minute when Joel Ward's strike cannoned off Leander Dendoncker into the net.

Things went from bad to worse for Wolves as Romain Saiss was sent off for a second yellow card.

Saiss was booked for a sliding challenge on Wilfried Zaha at the start of the second half and he picked up a second yellow for tugging the Palace man back in the 73rd minute.

But despite the man disadvantage and a late scare when Christian Benteke sprinted through on goal Wolves found a leveller at the death.

Jota capitalised on Ward's slip at the back post to sweep Adama Traore's right-wing cross home in the 90th minute.

It was a goal that sparked scenes of celebration in the away end as Wolves fought back to pick up their fourth point of the season.

Analysis

They might not have got their first league victory of the season but Diogo Jota's last-gasp leveller might just be the spark to ignite this Wolves season.

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Once again they wasted chances, were the architects of their own downfall but a never say die spirit is something you just cannot bottle up and sell.

With the odds, stats and a man down all stacked up against them this Wolves side found an answer in the depths of injury time to stop boss Nuno Espirito Santo suffering a fourth defeat in a row for the first time since taking over in 2017.

Defensively they might have been their own worst enemy again as Joel Ward's 46th minute effort deflected home off Leander Dendoncker in the 46th minute.

But despite losing Romain Saiss for a needless second yellow card Wolves used the luck they had lost to that opening goal to hold off Wilfried Zaha and company and somehow find a late leveller.

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Adama Traore surged forward in the right and as Ward slipped in his attempt to nod the ball back to his keeper Jota was in prime position to pounce and rifle home the leveller.

It forced me to rip up my match report and could perhaps stem the gloom and doom that could have come had Palace taken all three points.

Wolves are still waiting for a Premier League victory but for a team devoid of confidence a last gasp leveller will be just the tonic.

It seems that the 10-men stood up and said this is where our season starts, we are not giving up and raced away to the hoard of travelling Wolves fans to celebrate just that.

They are not down and out and they are willing to fight.

Wolves had lost their clinical touch in the final third, they were undone by defensive lapses in the second half and luck appeared to have deserted Nuno's side.

But Jota's goal at the death now gives Wolves a platform to build on.

Though they must learn from their lessons.

A touch of fortune but a deserved point for that opening 45 minutes.

Stats cannot count for luck and spirit and as fortune favours the brave, Nuno's men showed they are up for the battle.

Report

Nuno made four changes from the side that lost 1-0 to Braga in the Europa League on Thursday.

Ryan Bennett's loose pass played a part in the build-up Ricardo Horta's 72nd minute strike at Molineux and Nuno was ruthless once again as he left the right sided centre-half out of his squad.

Romain Saiss returned to the starting line-up in his place and slotted in on Conor Coady's left.

That move saw Willy Boly take Bennett's slot on the right as Nuno shifted formation from the 3-5-2.

With no wins in their previous five Premier League games Wolves needed a result at Selhurst Park and Nuno's starting XI certainly showed attacking intent.

Patrick Cutrone was guilty of wasting chances against Braga and he made way for Diogo Jota.

Morgan Gibbs-White was the bright spark in the Europa clash but he had to settle for a spot on the bench as Joao Moutinho reclaimed his spot in midfield.

Adama Traore also came into the side for Ruben Neves with that change seeing Wolves set up with Dendoncker and Moutinho in the middle of the park.

Doherty and Jonny were deployed on the wings with Jota and Traore either side of Jimenez.

The system tweak suited Wolves who could drop to five at the back when defending and three in defence when attacking.

But they should have opened the scoring in the opening exchanges.

They say lightning does not strike twice but Leander Dendoncker would be left kicking himself once again after missing a golden opportunity to open the scoring.

Dendoncker's first time effort was tipped away by Braga keeper Matheus on Thursday night and he was to be thwarted in the box once again.

The Wolves midfielder strolled in unmarked at the back stick to meet Moutinho's corner from the right but his strike was bravely blocked by James McArthur on the line.

Captain Coady was on hand to keep Palace out up the other end with the Wolves back-line growing in confidence as the half wore on.

The defensive errors of Chelsea and Braga soon a distant memory as the switch to Boly, Coady and Saiss proved instrumental in keeping live-wire Zaha and company quiet.

with Wolves, like on Thursday night, failing to find that clinical touch or final pass in the opposition third.

Traore sprinted inside but his strike from outside the box was deflected just wide of the left stick.

But as Wolves pushed forward in search of an opener Palace nearly cut them open on the counter-attack as the pace of Ayew and Zaha caused them problems on the right.

Boly just did enough to force Zaha across the top of the box into the path of Coady who swept the ball to safety.

But that attack woke the Palace crowd up with Wolves looking shaky in a set-piece situation.

Ayew managed to out leap both Boly and Doherty in the box.

But he could only nod the ball straight down the throat of Patricio as the home side grew in confidence.

But Palace's attacking intent would play into Wolves' hands at that enabled them to counter.

They sprayed the ball across Selhurst Park with Jimenez eventually finding space on the right of the box.

He chipped the ball towards the back stick with Doherty given acres of space to nod the ball towards the top corner.

But Palace shot-stopper Vincente Guaita was on hand to rescue his side as he somehow clawed the ball away.

It was a sublime save but Wolves would continue to test his palms as the game wore on.

Nuno wanted his men to return to the principles that got them to this stage and his side had clearly got the message in this first half with some crisp passing play from front to back.

It was the basics that nearly saw them get their breakthrough.

Doherty closed down a Palace clearance deep in the opposition half and calmly slid the ball to Traore on his left.

That would start a one-touch passing move that eventually lead to a Jimenez and Jota slicing through Palace like a hot knife through butter.

That one-two saw Jota through on goal, but once again, the quality of the end product could not match the result the exquisite build-up deserved as his strike ballooned safely into Guaita's grasp.

But that half-time deadlock would be a platform they could not build on in the second 45 with Wolves the architects of their own downfall.

They had been resolute in the first half but it took Palace just a minute of the new half to end that solidity.

Boly, moved over to that right-side, was outfoxed by Kouyaté in the box.

The Wolves man had numerous chances to clear but the Palace man ran rings around him.

They would survive the first phase with Patricio batting the ball away.

But the top of the box was unmanned by gold and black shirts with McArthur alert.

He flicked the ball on to Joel Ward and his strike took a hefty deflection off Dendoncker to fly home in the 46th minute.

Ward was the man celebrating but it would go down as an own goal with the Palace man's strike anticipated to have flown off target had it not been for Dendoncker's accidental intervention.

Harsh to blame the midfielder for doing a job all would expect in charging down and getting his body in the way in the box.

But it just highlights the lack of luck shining on this Wolverhampton side.

Nuno made changes with Neves, Neto and Cutrone all entering the fray.

But Wolves would once again shoot themselves in the foot.

They looked to be containing Palace with a number of defensive blocks stopping Kouyate and Milivojevic as Jimenez and Jota tried in vain up the other end.

The attacking invention of the first half had faded away after Palace's goal knocked the confidence out of Nuno's men.

But Saiss would make a stupid decision that would nearly cost his team a deserved point.

He was booked for a sliding challenge on Zaha in the opening stages of the half and would see red in the 73rd minute.

Zaha raced past him on the right flank and Saiss tugged him back.

The Wolves man did not need to make the foul in the Palace half and it looked to be the final nail in the coffin of this game.

But after Christian Benteke strolled one and one-on-one with Patricio and his strike was saved a glimmer of hope grew in this Wolves side.

Palace failed to kill them off despite numerous attacks.

And Nuno's men found that clinical touch in the dying stages.

A touch of fortune, but deserved.

Rosie Swarbrick

By Rosie Swarbrick
@rosieswarb

Wolves correspondent for the Express & Star.

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