Alex Iwobi pulled one off for the visiting team at Molineux, but Wolves’ superiority in the opening 45 minutes made the difference as Bruno Lage’s men climb to seventh in the Premier League table with a fourth victory in five games.
Benitez’s Everton are in desperate shape by comparison, failing to reverse the recent trend in results which saw them beaten 5-2 at home to Watford last time around.
Although they pushed hard for the equalizer, they paid the price for their slow start – failing to cope with a set piece, then offering Wolves their second with the reckless back pass by Ben Godfrey.
How the wolves won it …
Wolves were brighter from the start, with Ruben Neves’ volley parried by Jordan Pickford on the way to Conor Coady, who couldn’t get enough of the rebound.
Pickford made an even better save in the first quarter of an hour, stretching to tip Francisco Trincao’s curling effort over the crossbar as the Wolves continued to push.
The home side then thought they had found the breakthrough when Jimenez’s driving run into the box found Hwang Hee-chan, who put the ball into the net on the second attempt.
wolves: Sa(7); Semedo (7), Kilman (8), Coady (7), Saiss (7), Ait-Nouri (8); Neves (8), Moutinho (7), Trincao (7), Jimenez (8), Hwang (8).
Subscribers: Podence (6), Dendoncker (n/a), Silva (n/a).
Everton : Pickford (7); Coleman (6), Holgate (6), Keane (6), Godfrey (5) ; Gbamin (5), Allan (6) ; Townsend (6), Iwobi (6), Gris (6) ; Richarlison (6).
Subscribers: Delph (7), Gordon (7), Rondon (n/a).
Man of the match: Raul Jimenez
He was ruled out for offside after a VAR check, but Everton ignored the warning and Wolves finally took the lead in the 28th minute thanks to Kilman’s firm header.
If Benitez had been disappointed by this – a straight goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri’s left corner – he would have been deprived of the runner-up’s way.
Ben Godfrey’s terribly under-touched back pass was intercepted by Jimenez, leaving him clean. The finish was cute, gently lifting the ball over the goalkeeper for his 50th Wolves goal.
It was no more than Wolves deserved for their enterprising play in the first half with Everton rarely in possession of the ball and only an intermittent threat on the counterattack.
Their best chance before the break owed a lot to fortune – Romain Saiss’s savage deflection causing Demarai Gray to play to the side but the winger dragged his effort a long way anyway.
Everton came out with more intention in the second half – they had to – and looked more menacing as they engaged bodies forward, but their first chance came from a mistake.
Two changes for Wolves as Ruben Neves replaced Leander Dendoncker in midfield, while Francisco Trincao is restored in favor of Adama Traoré who falls on the bench.
Four changes for Everton after the Watford debacle. Mason Holgate is drafted and Lucas Digne is absent due to an injury. There is a change in midfield where Jean-Philippe Gbamin is preferred to Tom Davies, while Alex Iwobi replaces Anthony Gordon. As expected, Richarlison replaces Salomon Rondon at the front.
Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa kicked the ball straight to Richarlison but the Brazilian was quickly shut down and a combination of Sa and Coady managed to keep him away.
Everton’s push paid off when Godfrey’s ambitious shot was only cleared all the way to Iwobi and he pierced the ball past Sa to halve the deficit and silence Molineux.
Wolves had to fear their waste would prove costly as they pushed back the chance to reestablish the two-goal lead, with Trincao shooting at close range.
Trincao appeared to have won a penalty when he was hacked by Mason Holgate, but referee Martin Atkinson changed the decision to reflect that he was just outside the area.
Anthony Gordon’s introduction immediately livened up the away support and the youngster almost found the equalizer, his corner header from Andros Townsend being well saved by Sa.
Although it was a nervous ending, Everton were unable to create another opening as they collapsed on a third straight Premier League loss. Wolves are going the other way.
Man of the Match – Raul Jimenez
Sky Sports’ Jamie Carragher : “He’s a player. Sometimes when a player is away for a long time, you almost forget how good he is. Jimenez has been described as the best striker outside of the Champions League chasing squad for years since taking office. League.
“His complete game is fantastic and he was a real threat. Everyone wants to see him come back to his best level and I think Jimenez was back at his best tonight. It was a true man of the match performance. ”
Analysis: Lage’s ideas take shape at Wolves
Bruno Lage is trying to make Wolves a bigger team and there were many signs of that throughout a confident performance.
The big change he introduced is the positioning of the wide forwards with Hwang Hee-chan and Francisco Trincao operating much closer to the center-forward than Adama Traore and Pedro Neto did last season.
When it works, the result is a delightful interaction between the top three as they scoop up the ball from pockets of space.
There is work to be done and Wolves really should have finished Everton, avoiding the nervous finish. But it was another encouraging step.
The day Lage’s predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked by Tottenham, Wolves will feel like they made the right choice.
Opta statistics: The beautiful form of the wolves continues …
- Since the beginning of September, Wolves have collected 16 points out of 21 possible in the Premier League (W5 D1 L1), only Chelsea (18) and Arsenal (17) managing more during this period.
- Wolves have won back-to-back league victories at home for the first time since July 2020, when they beat Everton 3-0 and then Crystal Palace 2-0.
- Everton have lost three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since October / November 2020 under Carlo Ancelotti.
- On the road, Everton have lost three of their last six Premier League games, winning only one (D2), having lost only one in 14 previously, winning nine (D4).
What the managers said …
Wolves boss Bruno Lage speaking to Sky Sports: “What we did in the first half, we didn’t deserve to suffer a bit in the second half. We did very well in the first 45 minutes.
“They changed a bit in the second half, they tried to play with more midfielders to control our inner game and we didn’t adapt to that.
“We didn’t push like we should, but even then we created a lot of chances. In total, for the 90 minutes, it was three earned runs for us.
“This is the Premier League, the teams are the best teams, the coaches are the best coaches, we cannot forget that Rafa Benitez won the Champions League, we have to be a team for the full match and when the other team changes, we must continue and adapt.
” The [Raul Jimenez] is the first guy to press, that’s the most important thing he does for us and the way he gets to get the game between the lines, very important to us.
“For now, I don’t care about the painting. I want the points. I think the winter will be hard for us, we will have to work. To earn the most points, we need to win this kind of game. “
Everton boss Rafael Benitez speaking to Sky Sports: “It’s a shame because we didn’t play in the first half. We had a lot of character and chances in the second half, maybe it was a bit too late. It was the reaction we expected but it was just a shame we didn’t do it in the first half.
“They were gaining confidence. We have to see what we did in the second half for 90 minutes. Obviously we didn’t and that’s where we need to improve.
“We saw the character react in the second half after a bad first half.
“I think we are close but we lack the players who can make the difference. “
Wolves travel to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday at 3 p.m., while Everton hosts Tottenham on Sunday at 2 p.m.