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Leicester 0 Wolves 0 – Report and pictures

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Wolves have a goal disallowed by VAR as they claimed an opening-weekend point at Leicester.

Neither team took control in the first half with the Foxes going closest when a ball across goal was missed by Jamie Vardy who was only a yard out.

Wolves thought they'd taken the lead early in the second half but Leander Dendoncker's strike was controversially ruled out by VAR for a handball by Willy Boly.

Both sides created half chances but an even contest ended goalless.

Analysis

On an opening weekend of the Premier League season defined by video replay decisions, Wolves found themselves afflicted by the VAR curse.

It was a case of so near and yet so VAR as, in the game's major talking point, Leander Dendoncker's goal was controversially ruled out, writes Tim Spiers at the King Power Stadium.

By the letter of the law, the match officials were right to judge that the ball had struck Willy Boly's upper arm and therefore the goal should not have stood. Where the confusion and contention comes in is the rule itself. Boly knew nothing of it – it certainly wasn't intentional – with Leicester not even appealing. There was clear and obvious error by the referee Andre Marriner...and yet accidental handballs aren't penalised if they don't lead to a goal, as happened during the Spurs Villa match on Saturday.

All of which, for the second year in a row, left Wolves leaving the King Power a little aggrieved with their lot.

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Last season, in what was also their first away game of their league campaign, they hit the woodwork three times and lost 2-0 to a deflected strike and an own goal.

This time around a point was a fair result, but having wildly celebrated what they thought was an opening goal, there was frustration that a promising start to the second half hadn't been rewarded with a goal.

As for their overall performance, Wolves weren't at their best, but could rely on the defensive organisation, rigidity and solid team shape that so often earns them points when they're not fully firing.

There were a couple of heart-in-mouth moments, but to only allow one shot on target for a team with high hopes of breaking into the top six this season was impressive.

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At the other end Diogo Jota was the definition of a livewire, while new boy Patrick Cutrone displayed a forthright positive attitude and some nice touches during a 15-minute cameo.

A solid start, off the mark – and, given they underwent a 6,000-mile round trip to Armenia just a few days ago – a welcome point.

Match report

Nuno selected the XI which had served him so well at the end of last season, with the fit-again Matt Doherty starting his second game in three days.

New signings Patrick Cutrone and Pedro Neto were on the bench, as was Morgan Gibbs-White after he missed the Armenia trip with a knock. Adama Traore, after his passport indiscretion, travelled to the East Midlands with no hitches.

Leicester included only one brand new signing – £30million man Ayoze Perez – in their side, meaning two teams who faced each other on three occasions last season were in familiar territory.

A close, hard-fought contest between two bright, attacking sides was anticipated and that was how the first half panned out, albeit there was a lack of quality in the final thirds.

Wolves settled quickly, with Leander Dendoncker having the game's first sight of goal when he crashed over from 18 yards after good work from Jonny Castro Otto and Diogo Jota.

In terms of Jota, that was the theme of the half for Nuno Espirito Santo's boys, who felt like a one-man team at times in their attacking ventures.

The scampering Portuguese forward wriggled his way past defenders like a slippery eel in a greasy bathtub, creating opportunities on his own including a decent long-range effort which flashed wide.

Around him he had little support, though. Raul Jimenez and Joao Moutinho weren't at their incisive best and Otto, in a recurring theme throughout the side, gave the ball away too often in a performance that was sloppy and ragged at times. A promising four-on-four counter attack, after outstanding work from Jota, ended when Otto's pass to Dendoncker was over-hit, in a move indicative of Wolves' half.

Their occasion sloppiness allowed Leicester to control possession and they carved out the best chance of the half when Youri Tielemans' drive across goal was somehow missed by Jamie Vardy who was just a yard from goal, with the ball going through his legs when it looked easier to score.

Rui Patricio didn't have a save to make, with Wolves' shape and organisation allowing them to get through the half unscathed. They threatened from a couple of Moutinho set pieces at the other end, but it was a 45 minutes of little goalmouth action at the King Power.

Neither team had mustered a shot on target, but that changed within seconds of the restart when Neves set Jimenez rampaging into the Leicester half with a piercing through ball – the Mexican took on Caglar Soyuncu in the box but his effort was weak and too close to Kasper Schmeichel.

Wolves were playing with pace and purpose – Nuno had clearly got into them at the break – and their positive attitude saw them score what everyone in the stadium thought was the game's opening goal.

Moutinho's outswinging corner hit Willy Boly and broke for Dendoncker who fired into the back of the net from close range. However, after several checks by VAR the goal was ruled out for handball, with the ball having grazed Boly's upper arm. It was certainly not intentional, but the goal didn't stand, causing a furious reaction from Nuno as the Leicester fans wildly celebrated and chanted "VAR".

Wolves persevered, specifically Jota who was played in by Jimenez but dragged his effort wide of the far post right-footed.

But it was Leicester who looked the more likely scorers for the next 20 minutes, probing away in the Wolves third albeit without creating an elusive clear-cut opportunity.

With 15 minutes remaining Nuno called on Cutrone, who replaced the excellent Jota. However, as on Thursday night, he wasn't given the ball in good enough areas with Leicester coming on strong in the final stages.

Boly made a couple of vital clearances as Leicester pushed for a winner, but Wolves saw it through for an opening-weekend point.

Key moments

37 - The Foxes should be ahead! Maddison tries to score on the volley but fluffs his lines. The ball still falls kindly to Tielemans, though, and he squares it across goal. Vardy, from a yard out, can't get a touch on it.

45 - Chance for Wolves! Jota does incredibly well to get to the ball ahead of Pereira, who was looking to shield it out of play. The Portuguese charges towards goal from the left but slips at the vital moment. Unlucky.

46 - Almost the perfect start to the second half for Nuno's side. Jimenez races clear on the right, cuts inside and has his side-footed shot saved comfortably by Schmeichel, He usually buries those.

51 - HANDBALL CONTROVERSY! Dendoncker thinks he has given Wolves the lead, but the goal is disallowed after a VAR check. It is because of a handball by Boly in the build-up, although unintentional, in line with new law.

Teams

Leicester (4-3-3): Schmeichel (c); Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Choudhury (Barnes, 62), Ndidi, Tielemans; Maddison, Vardy, Perez (Albrighton, 76)

Subs not used: Ward (gk), Justin, Morgan, Praet, Iheanacho

Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Neves (Saiss, 81), Dendoncker, Moutinho, Otto; Jimenez, Jota (Cutrone, 76)

Subs not used: Ruddy (gk), Vinagre, Traore, Neto, Gibbs-White

Attendance: 32,050

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)

Next up

Wolves host Pyunik in the second leg of their Europa League qualifying tie on Thursday, before facing Manchester United the following Monday in the Premier League, also at Molineux.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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