Wolves 1-0 Southampton: Daniel Podence strikes late in first-half to give Bruno Lage’s side their first win of the season against Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints
- Daniel Podence netted just before half time to take lead against Southampton
- Che Adams goes close to equaliser but has goal ruled out for handball
- Wolves climb up the table to 13th, whereas Saints stay in 12th place
As the cliche goes, ‘It doesn’t matter how you win, as long as you win.’ In the case of Wolverhampton Wanderers, that could not be more true.
The last time Bruno Lage’s side won a Premier League game was five months ago – on April 2nd against Aston Villa. 154 days to be exact. Winless in 12. There is no such thing as a must win game in September but this felt like one for Wolves against Southampton at Molineux. And win they did.
It was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. A cagey affair within which both sides lacked that killer instinct in the final third. In the end, it took a rather fortuitous strike from the impressive Daniel Podence, alongside an array of missed Southampton chances to give the home side a hard-earned first win of the season.
Wolves forward Daniel Podence scored the winning goal in the first half of the match
Wolves players celebrate Podence’s goal that would see them earn three points
Che Adams went close to scoring for Southampton on more than one occasion in the match
‘I can be happy for both – the performance and the result. Me and my staff are so proud. In the last two weeks, we completely changed our squad from the squad that finished pre-season,’ said Lage. ‘I take the responsibility (for the start to the season). What I want is not relief. What I want is for the players to have confidence in the work that we are doing. I just said to the players that the three points gives us the tranquility to play at our level.’ he added.
Lage made three changes from their goalless draw at Bournemouth opting to give new signing Sasa Kalajdzic his debut and choosing to leave Raul Jimenez on the bench. With 23 goals across his last two Bundesliga campaigns, there was every reason to be optimistic about the 6ft 7in Austrian forward. Kalajdzic – who signed from VFB Stuttgart – led a front three including Podence and Pedro Neto. And the first real chance came to Neto after he was played in by club record signing Matheus Nunes but the Portuguese man dragged his left-footed strike wide of the near post.
Southampton made just the one change, which was enforced, with Ralph Hasenhuttl opting for Joe Aribo after 18-year-old Romeo Lavia suffered a hamstring injury in their midweek win over Chelsea. The visitors had early chances of their own with Aribo’s shot from inside the box getting blocked by Ruben Neves while Armel Bella-Kotchap failed to test the keeper when he was left unmarked in the area from a corner.
Sasa Kalajdzic’s Wolves debut ended early as he was substituted after hurting his knee
Wolves (4-3-3): Sa 6, Jonny 6, Collins 6, Kilman 6, Ait-Nouri 6, Nunes 6, Neves 7, Moutinho 6, Neto 6 (Traore 82), Kalajdzic 5 (Guedes 45 5), Podence 6 (Hwang Hee-Chan 82)
Subs unused: Sarkic, Nelson Semedo, Gomes, Ronan, Bueno, Cambpell
Goal: Podence 45+1
Booked: Jonny, Moutinho, Neves, Guedes
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Bazunu 5, Walker-Peters 5, Bella-Kotchap 6, Salisu 6, Perraud 6 (Maitland-Niles 73 5), Diallo 5 (Djenepo 56 6), Ward-Prowse 6, A Armstrong 6 (Mara 83), Aribo 6 (Edozie 73 5), Elyounoussi 5 (S Armstrong 56 5), Adams 5
Subs unused: McCarthy, Lyanco, Larios Lopez, Walcott
Booked: Diallo, Bella-Kotchap
Referee: John Brooks 6
In added time at the end of an otherwise uninspiring first half, came Wolves’s moment of inspiration. Neto found Nunes, whose marauding run down the right flank caught out Southampton. Nunes met the ball first time, putting a glorious delivery across the box into the path of Daniel Podence.
Podence could easily have squared it to Kalajdzic but instead scuffed his shot, yet to his relief and to the delight of the home support, Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu had committed himself and the ball bobbled in. It doesn’t matter how they come as long as they come and neither he or Wolves could care less as they went into the break ahead.
Lage was forced into a change with Kalajdzic’s debut ended prematurely after he went down holding his knee late in the first half. With Jimenez ruled out in the warm-up for ‘chronic fatigue’, Goncalo Guedes came on for the restart
Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl was left frustrated by his side’s performance
Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa celebrates the team winning their first league game of the season
Moussa Djenepo of Southampton was a late substitute but was unable to inspire a comeback
Hasenhuttl switched to a 4-3-3 and it was Southampton who looked likelier to score after the break. Che Adams missed a golden opportunity to level after Jose Sa could only parry Aribo’s cross but Adams mistimed his jump on virtually the goalline as his header struck his arm on the way in and the goal was disallowed. A minute later, his header hit the bar as the visitors huffed and puffed for an equaliser. With just under 20 minutes remaining, Hasenhuttl made all five changes in the hunt for a goal but his side failed to create any more clear cut opportunities. Ultimately, a lapse of concentration at the end of the first half proved costly.
‘When you speak of defeats this is one of the most hurting ones. With the chances we had in the second half, they must be goals. Che knows this, he did a fantastic job today though, working for the team. But it’s frustrating to see the ball in the net and it’s not a goal.’ said Hasenhuttl.
As the final whistle went, there were cheers from the South Bank as Lage took in the applause, raised his arms and bowed to the home support, who have stuck by their managers side, as evidenced by the chanting of his name both before and after the game. With Liverpool and Manchester City as their next two opponents, it was a much needed win for Lage and his side. Lift off finally for Wolves.