Matt Doherty’s first goal of the season extended Wolves’ unbeaten run to six matches and earned a hard-fought victory on the road at Crystal Palace.
In a game of the few chances, played out in sodden conditions, it took just one moment of quality to earn Wolves their second away win of the season. Doherty created the goal himself, playing a quick one-two with Raul Jimenez, and lashing in at Wayne Hennessey’s near post to send the away support into delirium.
The victory didn’t come easily however, and Rui Patricio was in fine form between the sticks once again, denying Jeffrey Schlupp on multiple occasions, while substitute Ivan Cavaleiro rattled the Palace bar with Wolves’ opportunity to make the closing stages less nervy.
It mattered not however, and victory was secured in South London courtesy of Doherty’s first goal since March, strengthening Nuno Espirito Santo’s side position in the Premier League with back-to-back victories.
Wet conditions and a scrappy opening ten minutes did little to indicate which team would be leaving with the three points at Selhurst Park. Wilfried Zaha, Palace’s obvious dangerman, did fizz across the face of goal early on, while Jimenez wasted Wolves’ first sight of goal, dragging wide following a swift breakaway led by Diogo Jota.
A growing presence in the first half, Wolves should have been ahead on 26 minutes as Jota set up Jimenez, who’d sprung the offside trap, only for the Mexican to be denied by a strong hand from former Wolves stopper Hennessey. At the other end, Patricio was let off the hook as Schlupp lashed over his loose punch.
Soon after, Schlupp’s lack of composure was mirrored by Jota, who blazed high and wide of Hennessey’s goal for Wolves. With half time approaching Palace’s midfield linchpin Luka Milivojevic curled a free-kick harmlessly into the arm of Patricio as the opening half was drawn to a close.
Half-time: Crystal Palace 0 Wolves 0
All inside Selhurst Park were hoping for an improved second period, after 45 minutes of few clear-cut chances, and Ruben Neves attempted to inject a bit of quality but fizzed his effort too high of the Palace goal.
However, Wolves would get their goal soon after as the best move of the game brought its just rewards. Patient in possession, but when Doherty sprang into life Palace couldn’t deal with his movement, as the Irishman exchanged passed with Jimenez and fired in at Hennessey’s near post for his first goal of the season.
Never going to go down lightly however, Palace quickly rallied and would have been level had it not been for Patricio on 70 minutes. Andros Townsend’s cross caused carnage in the Wolves box, as substitute Max Meyer’s volley was kept out by Patricio, before the Portuguese denied Schlupp’s rebound with the help of Conor Coady’s pressure.
Then came Wolves’ first change as Cavaleiro took the place of Jimenez down the middle. Seconds later Townsend curled another effort straight at Patricio, while Willy Boly was well-placed to block what looked a certain goal from Schlupp, following a Cheikhou Kouyate header down.
Although Palace threatened the equaliser, they were almost out of sight moments later as Joao Mouthinho’s deflected ball fell invitingly for Cavaleiro, but the winger couldn’t repeat last week’s heroics as his powerful effort cannoned back off the crossbar.
Seeing the clock down impressively, Romain Saiss and Adama Traore were given run outs late on, with Helder Costa and Jota making way. Niggly fouls came and went during the closing stages, but more importantly no further chances and the three points were heading back to the West Midlands.