Luton 1 Wolves 1 - Report
Wolves were on the wrong end of another controversial VAR decision after Carlton Morris’ penalty cancelled out Pedro Neto’s opener.
A disastrous first half performance from Wolves, in which the hosts dominated and could have taken a comfortable lead, ended with Jean-Ricner Bellegarde being handed a straight red card for a naïve kick on defender Tom Lockyer.
But the 10-men of Wolves rallied to take the lead five minutes into the second half, when Neto emphatically finished in front of the travelling fans.
Despite officiating guidelines suggesting handball cannot be given if the ball ricochets off another part of the same player’s body before hitting the hand or arm, Wolves were penalised when a cross hit Joao Gomes on the foot and then smashed off his arm.
A penalty was given and Carlton Morris calmly dispatched it to equalise for the hosts.
The decision baffled pundits across the footballing world, including former referee Mike Dean who was ‘astounded’ at the decision while speaking on Sky Sports.
But Wolves had to settle for the injustice as they left Kenilworth Road with a point.
Gary O’Neil named an unchanged line-up and bench following the loss to Liverpool, as they started in a 4-3-3 formation.
Rob Edwards made two changes to his side, as Alfie Doughty and Chiedozie Ogbene came in for Mads Andersen and Tahith Chong.
Buoyed by a loud atmosphere, the hosts started better with a clear game plan of pressing high and forcing Wolves into long balls. Once Luton did get possession back, they were finding space out wide through their wing-backs and aiming crosses in to their physical strikers.
Morris, who was proving to be a handful in the opening stages, almost gave Luton the lead when he found space on the edge of the box and curled a powerful effort that smashed off the post.
Jacob Brown then found space in the box and had his effort blocked by Max Kilman, as Wolves hung on.
To weather the storm, Wolves switched to a 5-2-3 formation with Neto at right-wing-back, Nelson Semedo part of the back three and Bellegarde part of the front three. After a few minutes of that, Hwang Hee-chan and Neto then swapped, allowing Neto to become part of the front three instead.
Wolves were all over the place in their shape, with players seemingly unaware of their responsibilities. However, a nice sweeping move saw Neto release Rayan Ait-Nouri down the left, but his low cross was cleared.
After a very poor half, it became a much harder task for Wolves when Bellegarde got himself sent off in the 39th minute. After the Wolves man made a good tackle, he was tangled up with Lockyer on the floor and while the Luton man held him down, Bellegarde kicked out to try and free himself. He was given a straight red card and a short VAR check did not overturn it.
A terrible back pass from Craig Dawson then meant Kilman had to mop up to prevent a goal.
Wolves survived to enter half-time 0-0.
O’Neil made two changes at half-time as Rayan Ait-Nouri and Hwang Hee-chan were replaced by Toti Gomes and Matt Doherty. That meant Doherty played left-wing-back, Toti was just behind him in the back three and Semedo moved slightly forward into right-wing-back.
Semedo started the second half as he finished the first, giving the ball straight to Luton with a poor pass. Morris then got on the end of a cross but Jose Sa saved.
But just five minutes into the second half, Wolves took a lead against the run of play. A magnificent interception from Gomes saw him racing forward before he released Neto, who burst beyond Lockyer with superb pace. The winger cut inside and smashed the ball into the roof of the net, to send the travelling Wolves fans into raptures.
Wolves then had a huge chance to make it 2-0 when Mario Lemina had a back post header saved, before Kilman’s tame follow-up was blocked.
Luton were awarded a penalty when Issa Kabore’s cross hit Gomes on the foot and bounced up on to his arm. VAR checked it but did not overturn it and Morris dispatched the spot-kick.
As Luton piled on the pressure, Marvelous Nakamba had a good opportunity from the edge of the box, but he did not catch his shot properly.
The hosts were on top as they looked to build on their equaliser, but Wolves were standing firm in defence.
Ogbene had the ball in the net for Luton after 90 minutes, but he was adjudged offside.
Sa then almost handed Luton a gift when he dropped a cross, but Luton were unable to capitalise with a poor lofted shot that landed on the roof of the net.
Boubacar Traore then made a huge block to deny Cauley Woodrow right at the death, before Wolves hung on to claim a point on their travels.
RED CARD 39 Bellegarde is sent off
GOAL 50 Neto puts Wolves ahead
GOAL 65 Morris makes it 1-1 with a penalty
Wolves: Sa, Semedo (H.Bueno, 84), Dawson, Kilman, Ait-Nouri (Toti, 45), Gomes (Doyle, 90), Lemina, Bellegarde, Neto, Cunha (Traore, 71), Hwang (Doherty, 45).
Subs not used: Bentley, Sarabia, Silva, Kalajdzic.
Luton: Kaminski, Kabore (Adebayo, 85), Burke, Lockyer, Bell, Doughty (Giles, 72), Nakamba, Lokonga, (Mpanzu, 57), Ogbene, Morris, Brown (Woodrow, 72).
Subs not used: Krul, Andersen, Berry, Chong, Mengi.