Although it would have been ever so special with fans inside Molineux to see it, this was a top victory from Nuno Espirito Santo’s side and a heartening display of grit and character.
The good old-fashioned way
Welcome back Wolves! The three-at-the-back formation returned, and with it came a much more assured, organised performance – and, ultimately, three huge points.
There was a lot to be admired about Nuno going with a 4-3-3 system in the weeks previous.
After all, the game is constantly evolving and having a few ways of playing is never a bad thing.
But this is Wolves’ bread and butter. Having three centre-halves and wing-backs is what has been drilled into them for coming on four years under the Portuguese.
It is the set up that players have been brought in for. They know it like the back of their hand, and it showed.
Going with four in defence will not have been totally abandoned but with fixtures particularly jam-packed at this time of year, it was lovely to see the tried-and-trusted method again.
Having looked suspect at the back and failed to convert their chances against Villa and Liverpool, they did the exact opposite against the Blues. Fair play to Nuno for that.
Of course, everybody had a part to play in this excellent win, but you cannot deny that Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto were the superstars of the night.
Their goals just embodied the sheer quality each player has. They are very much match-winners and relish big moments.
You can tell both of them are so passionate about the game while being supremely talented.
The concerns on the goal front in the absence of Raul Jimenez have not fully gone away, understandably, but these two seem quite happy to have greater responsibility on their shoulders.
Podence is quite often getting likened to former Chelsea man Eden Hazard on social media – and that is not a far-fetched comparison to make. He oozes class.
Neto, meanwhile, races past players at such speed and with the utmost confidence. They are amazing.
Cool heads prevail
Also worth a significant mention is Owen Otasowie, having come on for his Premier League debut at the start of the second period. Not that you could tell.
He was extremely calm and the physical presence he brought to the midfield – while getting the assist for Podence’s equaliser – was striking.
That is something Wolves have lacked since having Alfred N’Diaye in the Championship, with Leander Dendoncker – going off with a knock – and his game based more on athleticism and running than combativeness and strength.
It is very early days and let’s not expect too much too soon from the 19-year-old American, but this was certainly a great way to kick things off.
Vitinha, too, made the most of his few minutes on the pitch by setting Neto on his way for the winner – after Romain Saiss calmly picked out a pass from defence instead of hoofing it up the pitch.
Fernando Marcal, as well, kept things nice and simple throughout. Cracking composure.
All in all, morale has been boosted ahead of Monday’s trip to Burnley.
Had they lost to Chelsea, December could have turned out to be a horrible month, but this was much more like it.
Fingers crossed, the knocks picked up by Dendoncker and Willy Boly are nothing serious and that with Joao Moutinho back from suspension too, the squad is in tip-top condition for the trip to Turf Moor.
Sounds pretty simple, but there is nothing like a determined win, is there?