Palace leapfrog Wolves with win at Molineux

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Palace leapfrog Wolves with win at Molineux

Crystal Palace moved above Wolves in the table with goals from their in-form trio of forwards in a 3-1 win at Molineux.

Michael Olise and Jean-Philippe Mateta gave Palace a deserved two-goal lead at half-time but there was a brief scare for Palace when Matheus Cunha pulled one back midway through the second half only for Eberechi Eze’s goal to see Palace home.

Naouirou Ahamada was sent off late on but avoided conceding a penalty after another VAR check confirmed his foul was outside the penalty box and Palace saw the game out. Oliver Glasner’s side are up to 12th in the table. Gary O’Neil’s Wolves are down to 13th.

Player ratings

Wolves: Bentley (6), Doherty (5), Semedo (6), Kilman (6), Toti (5), Ait-Nouri (6), Gomes (7), Lemina (7), Traore (5), Cunha (7), Hwang (6).

Subs used: Bellegarde (6), Sarabia (6), Doyle (n/a), Gonzalez (n/a).

Crystal Palace: Henderson (7), Munoz (7), Clyne (7), Andersen (7), Richards (7), Mitchell (7), Wharton (7), Hughes (6), Eze (8), Olise (9), Mateta (8).

Subs used: Ahamada (5), Edouard (6), Guehi (6), Schlupp (n/a), Ward (n/a).

Player of the match: Michael Olise

How Palace beat Wolves

Wolves started the game with most of the possession but that soon became their problem. O’Neil’s team have lost the ball more times in their own defensive third than any other side in the Premier League this season and Palace seized upon that weakness.

It took a few attempts. Eze dragged one chance wide, while Olise did the same with even better opportunity. But Wolves kept gifting Palace the ball in dangerous areas and Olise did not pass up the next opening, curling the ball into the far corner of the net.

Team news

  • Matt Doherty came in for Hugo Bueno and there was a second Wolves change when Dan Bentley replaced the ill Jose Sa just before kick-off.
  • Marc Guehi had to wait for his return to the starting line-up as Oliver Glasner stuck with the side that produced that emphatic performance to beat Manchester United.

The turnover for the second goal came from deeper, Daniel Munoz raiding down the right, and when Olise’s clever pass found Nathaniel Clyne in the box, the defender’s deflected shot beat Daniel Bentley but came back off the post. Mateta put in the rebound.

Mateta’s turnaround in form has been sensational, scoring 10 goals in 12 games now, and the performance of this Palace team reflects their growing confidence under Glasner. In contrast, Wolves toiled – even if Matt Doherty did head against the crossbar.

Jean-Ricner Bellegarde and Pablo Sarabia were introduced as substitutes and it had an impact. Wolves pulled one back through Cunha when Hee-Chan Hwang was ruled onside following a VAR check and the momentum was briefly with the home side.

Eberechi Eze restores Crystal Palace's two-goal lead at Wolves

Image: Eberechi Eze restored Crystal Palace’s two-goal lead at Wolves

But Palace soon put paid to those comeback hopes when their star duo combined. Olise slipped the ball in behind Max Kilman and Eze rounded Bentley before dispatching the ball low into the net. That looked to be that but Wolves continued to push.

Cunha’s driving run looked to have secured a penalty but the foul was ruled to be outside the box following a VAR check. Ahamada still saw red for a second bookable offence. There was to be no comeback. It is Palace ending this season in style, a fifth win in six games.

Glasner praises ‘fantastic’ Palace

Glasner praised his team for “defending with passion and desire” in their win over Wolves but it is the impact of the manager that is startling at Palace. Only Manchester City and Arsenal, the two title chasers, have picked up more points since his arrival.

It is a credit to his ideas. “Performance is not just how we move the ball,” he explained. “It is the mental strength. This is what we want to be. Every player knows what he needs to do, out of possession and in possession, in transitions and on set plays.

“It is maybe the biggest compliment for the players, for the team, to perform like this. The win is the result, the goal is to show our performance from the first second to end. We showed how difficult it can be to play against us and what a fantastic team we are.”

Palace lost Will Hughes to injury early in the game when there was a clash with the Wolves forward Matheus Cunha as the midfielder went in for a tackle. “We hope that it is not that serious, a crash knee to knee,” said Glasner. “We hope it is nothing with the ACL.”

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Oliver Glasner said that it was a very good win for his Crystal Palace side

O’Neil disappointed by defeat

“Really disappointing,” said O’Neil. “There have been few halves like that recently but it was a really disappointing one. We beat ourselves didn’t we? We started well and we had some control, that turned into us having the ball around our goal and they punished us.

“In the second half, to be fair to the players, we had a go. We were a bit pragmatic, more direct, got up the pitch easier. Loads and loads to learn from that really.” He added: “Our flaws and weaknesses are wide open for all to see.”

Style of play was uppermost in his mind. “I am disappointed with myself today, how a team we have prepped can produce that in the first half. The players are unbelievably brave, keep playing no matter what. We are on the side trying to get them to be more direct.”

O’Neil hopes to adjust, on the training ground and in the transfer market. “Sometimes your flaws and weaknesses end up catching up with you. It feels like that at the moment.”

But his team were applauded at the end and, with Wolves 20 points clear of the drop zone, he was keen to stress the positives from a Molineux season that had its highs as well as its lows. “The bit with the fans at the end puts it all into perspective really.”

What’s next?

The Premier League’s final day will take place on Sunday May 19 with all games kicking off at 4pm. Wolves head to Liverpool for Jurgen Klopp’s final game, while Crystal Palace play Aston Villa.

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