Wolves 1 Spurs 1 - Report

In recent years, a Christmas goal for Romain Saiss has become as much part of the festive season as the office party (o-k maybe not this year), pigs in blankets and Mrs Brown’s Boys...writes Paul Berry.

And Wolves adding at least a point to their tally – they haven’t lost a fixture on December 26th or 27th since 2012 – has proved equally as predictable.

For the third festive fixture out of four, Saiss was on target, the Moroccan maestro heading home Pedro Neto’s inswinging corner just four minutes from time to earn a deserved point against Jose Mourinho’s Spurs.

It had been a long time coming since Tanguy Ndombele fired Tottenham in front with just 60 seconds on the clock.

In truth, from that moment onwards it was very much an even contest, with chances at both ends, but Wolves built up plenty of momentum during a typically robust second half which made them more than good value for the late leveller.

It had been the worst possible start to fall behind with barely a minute gone.

Son Heung-Min had already got in behind the Wolves defence and forced a save out of Rui Patricio from a tight angle to win a corner.

And when the flag kick was cleared for Ben Davies to tee up Ndombele, his low appeared to wrongfoot Patricio who will be disappointed not to have saved it.

This is a fixture that had produced 17 goals in those four meetings since Wolves returned to the Premier League, so perhaps an early goal was no surprise, although it was clearly a crushing blow for a home side which had set up with such attacking potential.

Fabio Silva was handed his first start at Molineux at the head of an exciting front four featuring Adama Traore, Neto and Daniel Podence, but they had not even been given chance to get into their stride ahead of such an early setback.

But as Wolves gradually settled, that front four started to get themselves more involved in creating several moments of promise in search of an equaliser.

First a great run from Traore ended with a pass to Podence whose low drive didn’t have the power to trouble Lloris, and just before the half hour mark Silva directed Nelson Semedo’s cross just wide at the near post at the end of an impressive move.

That’s not to say Spurs weren’t looking dangerous themselves going forward, with Ndombele such a powerful influence and his teasing cross was headed narrowly wide by Sergio Reguilon.

Wolves crafted another good chance shortly before the break when the ball dropped again to Podence but his left foot half volley was gathered cleanly by Lloris.

A goal behind at the interval, it was going to need another of Wolves’ famous second half comebacks, and right from the whistle they pressed forward in search of a leveller.

Silva led loud appeals for a penalty after he went down in the area but there was nothing doing apart from a corner, from which Saiss’s clever back header called Lloris into action.

That tantalising trio of Podence, Traore and Neto were then heavily involved as Wolves continued to build momentum – oh for a full South Bank to have been able to suck that ball in.

Spurs though were defending valiantly, particularly through Davinson Sanchez, and still carried their own threat on the counter.

Eric Dier fired a free kick wide of the target after Ndombele had been felled by Conor Coady, but the skipper’s excellent pass to Podence shortly afterwards set up some more promising interplay from which Ruben Neves’s rising drive was deflected over.

Neto then drove at the heart of the Tottenham defence only for another defender’s intervention to divert his powerful effort wide, and Neves capitalised on a loose pass to try his luck with a decent low drive which Lloris gathered to his left.

But there was still time left for Saiss to get on the end of another excellent Neto corner at the near post to flick a superb header beyond Lloris and into the opposite corner.

Both teams pressed forward in search of all three points during six pulsating minutes of added time, but ultimately it was spoils shared ahead of the warm embrace between Nuno and his former boss Mourinho.

The world was a very different place on this night last year when Matt Doherty – back at Molineux but this time in opposition colours – struck a late winner to despatch reigning Premier League champions Manchester City and send the gold and black faithful into a festive frenzy.

Saiss’s equally late intervention here was obviously not as loudly greeted given the absence of thousands of screaming fans, but it was just as eagerly acclaimed by the Wolves contingent within the stadium.

A point from a team as well-drilled and full of quality as Spurs is certainly not to be sniffed at, not least when four potential starters – Raul Jimenez back watching a game for the first time since his horrific head injury a month ago, Willy Boly, Jonny and Leander Dendoncker - were unfortunately sat looking on from an Executive Box.

Those are the sort of options Nuno would love to have at his disposal as the hectic festive schedule moves on to Old Trafford on Tuesday night, but the spirit of his team in continuing to show themselves as comeback kings – and a flick of the head Mr Christmas himself Romain Saiss - ensured they at least go there with another point on the tally.


Wolves (4-2-3-1): Patricio; Semedo, Coady (c), Saiss; Marcal (Ait-Nouri 75); Neves, Moutinho (Otasowie 83); Podence (Vitinha 90+1),, Neto, Traore, Silva.

Subs not used: Ruddy (gk), Hoever, Kilman, Perry, Cundle, Corbeanu.

Goal: Saiss (86)

Tottenham (3-4-1-2): Lloris, Sanchez, Dier, Davies; Doherty, Hojbjerg, Winks Reguilon (Bergwijn 63); Ndombele (Sissoko 70); Son (Lamela 83), Kane.

Subs not used: Hart, (gk), Alderweireld, Rodon, Tanganga, Aurier, Alli.

Goal: Ndombele (1)

Referee: Paul Tierney (Wigan)

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