Wolves player ratings gallery: Two score 8/10 in 1-0 win vs West Ham but three get 5
Player ratings from Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 West Ham United, as Daniel Podence’s goal lifts Julen Lopetegui’s side out of the relegation zone.
Wolverhampton Wanderers soared out of the relegation zone and up into 16th this afternoon after they earned a vital victory in a six-pointer clash with West Ham United at Molineux. The hosts were ponderous for the entirety of the first half and much of the second but they were able to squeeze through with a tidy finish from Daniel Podence just after the interval. They nearly sealed the deal through a late Raul Jimenez strike in stoppage time, but it was ruled out for offside.
Julen Lopetegui’s men just about edged it in the first half an hour or so as they carved out a couple of small openings, but for the most part, they were just too patient in possession. Hugo Bueno advanced well for the first chance, looping a cross toward Joao Moutinho who glanced just wide. Nelson Semedo then broke down the left and cut it back to Daniel Podence on the edge of the area but the winger dummied it to nobody. Ruben Neves tried an audacious flick and acrobatic strike but to no avail.
West Ham showed far more urgency as they were keen to get the ball into the box at every first opportunity. Their approach nearly paid off in the 31st minute as it fell to Vladimir Coufal on the far side, but Bueno was able to get across to make a huge block between Jose Sa and Wolves’ net. Approaching the break, Podence tried playing a corner deep to an awaiting Neves, but the Portuguese failed to keep his volley down.
There was a shift in tempo as soon as the second half began, though, and Wolves took the lead just three minutes after the break. The Hammers applied some early pressure with some set pieces but it played into the hosts’ favour as they were able to break away on the counter-attack for one of the first times in the match. Semedo travelled forward about 20 yards before finding Nunes on the right; the midfielder’s low cross deflected to Podence who was composed to open up his body and find the near corner from just inside the area.
David Moyes’ side began to get themselves back into it after going 1-0 down, but they were unable to craft anything of note as they were lacklustre in possession. Both teams turned to the bench for a few changes, one enforced as Joao Moutinho hobbled off, before a pair of agonising woodwick hits - the first a curled, long-range effort from Neves and the other a nearby rebound from substitute Rayan Ait-Nouri. On another day those would’ve been huge opportunities rued come the full-time whistle, but Wanderers were able to hold on - just about.
The visitors put on some intense pressure in the closing stages as they threw on plenty of subs up front and fired toward goal, but it was Wolves who nearly got the second goal of the game in stoppage time. Nunes played a wonderful through ball to Jimenez, who took his time and dinked the ball over Lukasz Fabianski, but the Mexican was flagged for a narrow offside. There was a deafening roar from the Molineux crowd as the referee blew the full time whistle – an almighty three points earned.
Here are our Wolves player ratings.