Adama Traore came off the bench to score his first Premier League goal of the season as Wolves beat Southampton 3-1 at Molineux.
Both sides were unbeaten in all competitions since December 11, with Wolves having won 1-0 at Man Utd last time out, while Southampton beat Brentford 4-1 in midweek, their biggest win of the season, and it showed.
The visitors won an incredible seven corners in the first 20 minutes, dominating the opening quarter of the game, albeit without really testing Jose Sa in the Wolves goal, The home team, against the run of play, then made the breakthrough seven minutes before half-time.
Wolves: Sa (8), Gomes (7), Ait-Nouri (7), Kilman (8), Coady (8), Semedo (6), Dendoncker (6), Moutinho (9), Trincao (6), Jimenez (7), Podence (7)
Subs: Silva (7), Traore (8), Cundle (6)
Southampton: Forster (8), Bednarek (7), Perraud (8), Lyanco (6), Salisu (6), Tella (6), Romeu (8), Ward-Prowse (8), Diallo (6), Redmond (6), Broja (7)
Subs: S Armstrong (6), Adams (7), A Armstrong (6)
Man of the match: Joao Moutinho
Daniel Podence fed Raul Jimenez in the box and after the ball broke to Rayan Ait-Nouri, the Frenchman was upended by Jan Bednarek, with referee Michael Salisbury initially pointing for a corner.
However, after an age, the official was told to look at the incident again on the pitch-side TV monitor by VAR Robert Jones, before deciding the Saints defender had caught his man. Raul Jimenez coolly rolled home the resulting penalty as Wolves led at the break.
The hosts doubled their lead just before the hour-mark thanks to Conor Coady’s tap-in – the skipper’s first Premier League goal at Molineux – after Max Kilman had headed Joao Moutinho’s free-kick against the post.
However, despite appearing to be cruising to three points, Wolves were then given an almighty late scare as James Ward-Prowse curled home a 35-yard free-kick with six minutes to go. It was the midfielder’s 12th in the Premier League, leaving him now only behind David Beckham in the competition’s all-time list, with his manager calling it the best of the England international’s career.
The visitors were inches away from levelling matters when Romain Perraud headed against both the bar and post in the final minute, before Traore – who had seconds earlier blazed over an open goal – ended the game as a contest by calmly slotting home in injury time.
As a result, Bruno Lage’s side move up to eighth place after a fourth win in five in all competitions, while Southampton’s five-match unbeaten run came to an end as they stay 12th in the table.
Traore finally off the mark this season – Opta stats
● Adama Traore scored for the first time in his last 22 Premier League appearances for Wolves, since netting against Brighton in May 2021.
● Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse scored his 12th direct free-kick goal in the Premier League, a haul bettered only by David Beckham (18).
● Wolves completed a top-flight double over Southampton for the first time since 1971-72, as well as winning three in a row against Saints in the top tier for the first time since October 1970.
● Wolves have picked up 31 points from their first 20 games of the Premier League season, their best return at this stage of a top-flight campaign since 1979-80 (also 31 pts via 3pts for a win) when they finished in 6th place.
● Southampton have conceded 2+ goals in 14 of their last 16 Premier League away games (39 goals conceded in total) while this season, only Norwich have shipped more goals on the road in the top-flight (25 conceded by the Canaries, 24 by Saints)
Lage: We never considered postponing the game
Wolves manager Bruno Lage:
“The most important thing is to complain about nothing and find solutions. In two or three weeks we are playing more games with the FA Cup. If you have more games then it’s harder to play.
“If you have players you need to continue to play. We have a lot of kids from the academy to play.
“I want to play and we are in a good moment. I don’t think about that (postponing). I put the kids in training a couple of times with us.
“We needed to prepare for the game in the best way. I prepared a lot of things this week. It was a hard week and I’m feeling very tired.”
Hasenhuttl: The luckier team won
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl:
“I don’t know if the better team has won but for sure the luckier team. We had the decisive moments in the game against us.
“Every time they (the referees) check (the monitor) they definitely change their opinion, otherwise they wouldn’t tell him to go there. The referee did a fantastic job, he had a very difficult game under control.
“We conceded the second, maybe Fraser doesn’t have to come out, but then Prowsey’s free kick is world-class, I have seen a lot of good ones but this is the best from him.
“We had chances to come back, Romain knows he has to score but it didn’t happen, Lyanco got an elbow in his face and we were waiting so maybe we were too naive (expecting a whistle) and they scored a third goal.”
Ward-Prowse closing in on Beckham free-kick record
Sky Sports’ Richard Morgan:
Southampton may have seen their five-match unbeaten run come to an end at Molineux on Saturday afternoon after a 3-1 loss to Wolves, however, the visitors did score the best goal of the game after yet another in the now long list of sensational James Ward-Prowse direct free kicks.
With the scoreline 2-0 to the hosts and Southampton seemingly beaten, up stepped Ward-Prowse to curl a sumptuous free kick up and over the wall and into the top righthand corner of the net from fully 35 yards out, with Wolves’ previously unbeatable goalkeeper Jose Sa rooted to his line.
No ‘keeper in the world would have got near Ward-Prowse’s effort, given the shot’s accuracy and speed, although we should no longer be surprised at the Saints skipper’s prowess from dead-ball situations.
In fact, Saturday was the England international’s 12th direct free-kick goal in the Premier League, a haul bettered only by David Beckham (18), with his manager Ralph Hasenhuttl even claiming it was the best he had ever seen from the player, which is quite some statement given his body of work.
Man of the Match – Joao Moutinho
He may now be the grand old age of 35, but that does mean Moutinho cannot still run a Premier League game from midfield, as he did with such aplomb against Southampton at Molineux on Saturday afternoon.
The Portuguese, who has been capped 142 times by his country – only Cristiano Ronaldo has made more appearances for the national team – pulled the strings and dictated the tempo throughout from his station in the middle of the park.
And as well as his calming influence in midfield, Moutinho’s set-piece delivery was also a constant threat to the Saints back line, including his free kick which helped create Wolves’ second goal of the game.
Both sides face Premier League encounters next Saturday, with Wolves travelling to Brentford (3pm), while Southampton host champions Man City in a game you can see live on Sky Sports Premier League at 5.30pm.