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Crystal Palace 0 Wolves 1 – Report and pictures

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Matt Doherty scored the winner as Wolves won 1-0 at Crystal Palace to go seventh in the Premier League.

A first half of few opportunities saw Wolves go close through Raul Jimenez who was denied by Wayne Hennessey.

Doherty broke the deadlock when he played a one-two with Jimenez and fired past Hennessey at his near post.

Rui Patricio had to make a great double save and then Ivan Cavaleiro hit the bar late on before Wolves withstood late pressure to record a hard-earned victory.

Analysis

Do you think Wolves might have got the hand of this Premier League lark?

Six games unbeaten, successive wins and clean sheets, only two goals conceded in six (to the Manchester clubs) and up to seventh in the table, writes Tim Spiers at Selhurst Park.

As against Southampton last week Wolves weren't at their fluent best.

But this team just knows how to grind out a result – irrespective of the stadium, the opposition or the league. They've been doing it for more than a year now – and they're showing no signs of slowing up.

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West Ham, Burnley, Southampton, Crystal Palace...all beaten since the start of September. And they all failed to score.

These are the type of teams that will have aspirations of finishing in mid-table or higher...well Wolves look very capable of doing just that.

They worked incredibly hard for this victory and there was some heroic, last-ditch defending (the ball was even, wait for it, hoofed clear on a couple of occasions).

It poured it down with rain all afternoon in London – not a problem for an Irishman like Matt Doherty and the match-winner was absolutely superb again here as he continued the form of his football life.

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It doesn't get much better that what Doherty's doing right now – and you could say the same for Wolves. But once they *really* hit their stride, they want to aim even higher. Another special season is unfolding.

Match report

Nuno named the same XI for the eighth league game in a row, with Helder Costa having recovered from the knock that saw him hobble off against Southampton last weekend.

Ex-Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey started against the club for the first time since leaving in 2014, in a Palace team that showed one change from their 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Monday with Jeffrey Schlupp replacing Max Meyer in a three-man midfield.

Wolves came into the game in form and on a five-game unbeaten league run – but they contrived to produce their worst half of the season.

The visitors just couldn't get going – they had just 30 per cent possession of the ball, and lacked control and tempo. Nuno will have hated it.

That said, they still produced a couple of bright moments on the break and indeed created the best chance of the half when Diogo Jota played in Raul Jimenez who beat the offside line and was in a great position just 10 yards out, but Hennessey made an excellent save to block his shot.

The same players linked up when Jota played to Jimenez as Wolves broke at speed, with the striker dragging his shot wide from 20 yards.

Jimenez later returned the favour when played to Jota inside the box but the Portuguese forward crashed his shot high and wide in a moment indicative of his lack of confidence in what was an off-colour display.

At the other end Jeffrey Schlupp had Palace's best opportunity when an uncharacteristic Rui Patricio fumble from a corner presented him with the ball 12 yards from goal, but he smashed it just over the bar.

Other than that, the keeper was barely called into action bar a Luka Milivojevic free kick which he easily saved.

It wasn't that Wolves were bad defensively, they just lacked cohesion and composure in midfield and made a succession of sloppy errors like Willy Boly and Jota running the ball out of play, or Matt Doherty playing the ball behind for a corner when under no pressure.

The wing-backs couldn't get into good areas and Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves were overcrowded in midfield.

Wolves came out with renewed purpose and vigour at the start of the second half and began to look themselves again. The game opened up with Neves firing a 20-yard rasper of a half volley over the bar.

And then came the magic moment Wolves had been lacking all afternoon – and it was man-of-the-moment Matt Doherty who produced he.

He drove inside from the right flank with purpose, played a one-two with Jimenez and struck the ball low and true to beat Hennessey at his near post. It was a fine strike from a man in the form of his career – and also Jimenez's third assist in three games.

Palace came back strong and began to threaten regularly. Jordan Ayew headed a corner over when he should have done better and then Patricio pulled off an excellent double save to deny Max Mayer and then Schlupp's follow up with a brave block.

Nuno sent on Ivan Cavaleiro for Jimenez but the action was all at the other end now.

Wolves were looking vulnerable at set pieces and Schlupp went close again after the ball dropped kindly for him, with Boly producing a goal-saving block as Nuno's team weathered the Palace storm with 12 minutes still to go.

Then they were just inches away from sealing it. The ball deflected into Cavaleiro's path and his wicked half volley from the right of the area flicked off the crossbar and to safety.

The final minutes saw Wolves revert to 'backs to the wall' mode and there was some defending of the last ditch variety with bodies thrown on the line and the ball hoofed clear. But Patricio didn't have another save to make and Wolves saw it through.

Key moments

26 – Jota plays in Jimenez but Hennessey denies him with a superb save.

56 – GOAL ­– DOHERTY plays a one-two with Jimenez and beats Hennessey at his near post.

69 – Superb double save from Patricio to deny Meyer and Schlupp

81 – The ball falls for substitute Cavaleiro who smashes his shot against the crossbar.

Teams

Crystal Palace (4-3-3): Hennessey; Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt; McArthur (Meyer, 63), Milivojevic, Schlupp (Sorloth, 82); Townsend, Ayew (Kouyate, 72), Zaha. Subs: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, Puncheon.

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Otto; Costa (Saiss, 84), Jimenez (Cavaleiro, 75), Jota. Subs: Ruddy, Hause, Gibbs-White, Traore, Bonatini.

Goal: Doherty (56)

Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)

League position

7th (15 points from 8 games)

Next up

Wolves are next in action after the international break when they host Watford on Saturday October 20, 3pm.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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