Wolves stay in European hunt as Crystal Palace suffer seventh consecutive loss

Daniel Podence and Jonny grab the goals at Molineux moves side back to sixth in table

Daniel Podence scores Wolves’  first goal during the the Premier League match against Crystal Palace  at Molineux. Photograph:  Catherine Ivil/PA Wire

Daniel Podence scores Wolves’ first goal during the the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at Molineux. Photograph: Catherine Ivil/PA Wire

 

Wolves 2 Crystal Palace 0

Daniel Podence’s first goal since arriving at Molineux in January and a second-half strike by Jonny kept Wolves on course for European qualification through the Premier League. Podence provided a simple finish to a dainty move in the 41st minute before half-time and Adama Traoré teed up Jonny to inflict a seventh straight defeat on Crystal Palace.

At 5ft 5in Podence was the smallest player on the pitch but exerted a grand influence, with zippy movement and sharp touches making him a regular pest to Palace. The visitors seemed in irritable mood for most of the game, frustrated by their opponents and their own inability to turn possession into penetration.

Sheffield United’s defeat earlier in the day helped Wolves’ cause but to get closer to securing a top-six finish Nuno Espírito Santo’s team needed to win. That is something they had managed only once in their previous four matches, as inspiration ran a little dry. But their opponents here arrived in even worse form, having lost six in a row, failing to score in five of those defeats.

As Roy Hodgson tried to avoid extending the worst losing streak of his Premier League career, he awarded the 20-year-old left back Tyrick Mitchell a first top-flight start in place of the injured Patrick van Aanholt. The academy graduate’s assignment? Only to contain Traoré.

Palace have an explosive forward of their own, of course. Romain Saïss knows that all too well, having been sent off for two fouls on Wilfried Zaha when these teams drew at Selhurst Park in September. Nuno is not given to sparing his players from challenges, but he decided to leave Saïss on the bench and insert Leander Dendoncker into central defence instead. Zaha, deployed in a front two alongside Jordan Ayew, took 19 seconds to show his menace, slaloming down the left before firing in a dangerous ball across the face of goal that Willy Boly did well to clear.

After that storming run came the calm, at least in terms of goalmouth action. In an ardent midfield tug-of-war between the boxes, neither side ceded or gained much ground.

There was little to provoke excitement until the 26th minute when Zaha seized on a short pass by Boly and fed Jeffrey Schlupp, who rifled a low shot wide of the far post from the left-hand side of the area.

The cliche about the game needing either magic or a mistake to make it interesting came to mind, and there was no doubt about which looked more likely. But suddenly, five minutes before the break, Wolves broke through with a wonderfully constructed goal featuring an artful one-two between Matt Doherty and João Moutinho before the Irishman clipped the ball back from the byline to leave Podence with a simple header into the net.

Podence linked nicely with Traoré to scare Palace again on the hour, but Vicente Guaita saved the Spaniard’s shot before Podence blasted the rebound wide via a deflection off Scott Dann.

Young Mitchell coped pretty well until the 68th minute, when he and James McArthur were flummoxed by Traoré, who burst between the pair of them – nutmegging the debutant in the process – and then passed to Raúl Jiménez, whose scuffed shot ran to Jonny, who spun and lashed it into the net from 10 yards. – Guardian

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