A clash between the Championship and Premier League winners, Wolves against Manchester City lived up to the billing as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men claimed a deserved point after an enthralling 1-1 draw at a noisy Molineux.
Wolves were a match from last season’s 100-point champions and became the first team to takes points off Pep Guardiola’s side this term, despite the visitors cancelling out Willy Boly’s opener for the hosts.
After a thrilling first-half where Raul Jimenez had an effort ruled out for offside and City were twice denied by the woodwork, Nuno’s side took the lead when Boly guided home Joao Moutinho’s brilliant cross following a short corner.
City did respond through Aymeric Laporte’s thumping header, but Patricio was in inspired form to earn the hosts a point and was grateful for his crossbar, which ensured Wolves took a deserved point when Sergio Aguero’s injury time free-kick cannoned off the bar.
The Championship winners against the Premier League champions, it was billed as a mouth-watering contest and the early atmosphere reflected the excitement, in front of 31,322 supporters – the biggest Molineux crowd since 1981.
A booking for City captain Vincent Kompany, who chopped down Ruben Neves on the turn, livened up the action on the pitch and the visitors could have led with the first chance. Aguero, the tenth leading scorer in Premier League history, set up Ilkay Gundogan whose weak effort was claimed by Patricio.
Not overawed by their opponents, Wolves were giving a good account of themselves and had their own opening soon after, but after Moutinho’s corner was cleared as far as Neves, the midfielder couldn’t keep his ambitious volley down.
Next, the South Bank were on their feet celebrating, only for the offside flag to cut their celebrations short. Kompany gifted possession to Wolves, who broke quickly and saw Diogo Jota’s shot deflected into the path of Jimenez who fired home, only to have gone too soon and be denied.
City’s response was instant, and they went the width of the post away from the opener as Aguero wrapped his foot around the ball and curled an effort against the woodwork, with Patricio beaten.
Although the goalkeeper got nowhere near that effort, he excelled to produce his best save in a Wolves shirt soon after. Raheem Sterling’s speculative effort from range had Patricio at full stretch and the Portuguese international brilliantly tipped onto the bar.
City were continuing to ask questions beyond the half hour mark but were met by resistance from Wolves, who saw Fernandinho’s low strike roll beyond Patricio’s right-hand post.
The hosts were having moments of their own and first Neves fired wide of the post, before he crossed for Jimenez, similarly to their combination work against Everton, but this time the Mexican pulled the ball down before lashing wide of the mark.
Five minutes before the break City almost led through their talisman. Mendy’s wicked crossed was pushed away by Patricio only as far as Aguero, but Boly got across to take the sting off the striker’s effort before his goalkeeper claimed.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Man city 0
Guardiola’s half-time team talk appeared to rally City and they started the second-half brightly as Kompany headed over Gundogan’s corner and Sterling fired well over the bar.
However, when the opener did arrive soon after Molineux erupted as Wolves edged ahead. Moutinho played his corner short to Neves, who quickly return the ball to his midfielder. Moutinho now had an angle to curl in a stunning cross which Boly glanced home at the back post.
It was the defender’s first goal of the season and he added to the feel-good factor by blocking David Silva’s goal-bound effort, before the Spaniard went down under Neves’ challenge but failed with his penalty claims.
Wolves remained a threat on the counter attack and Jota led the next attack, running wide and laying off to Neves, who steadied himself before firing wide of Ederson’s near post.
However, this exciting contest took another turn on 69 minutes as Gundogan’s brilliant free-kick was met by a thumping header from Laporte, who gave Patricio no chance and levelled for the visitors.
With 20 minutes to go, either team could have won it and after Aguero fired wide for City, Nuno handed Adama Traore his home debut off the bench in place of Costa.
City were looking the more likely to claim the winner and Gabriel Jesus’ powerful header was kept out expertly by the feet of Patricio.
However, Traore was looking Wolves’ secret weapon and his direct running was scaring Mendy ever time. First he beat the Frenchman and squared for Jota to fire over, before Ederson got a hand to his second cross, again after a lung-bursting run.
Ruben Vinagre had come on in the meantime in place of Jonny Castro Otto and he soon crossed for Doherty to loop a header wide, while at the other, with just seconds left on the clock, Aguero’s free-kick beat the Wolves wall but couldn’t beat the crossbar – and with that, a point was secured.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Man City 1
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Otto (Vinagre 85), Neves, Moutinho, Costa (Traore 72), Jota, Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Hause, Saiss, Gibbs-White, Bonatini.
Man City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Laporte, Mendy, Fernandinho, D Silva, Gundogan (Sane 77), B Silva (Jesus 62), Sterling (Maher 85), Aguero.
Unused subs: Muric, Otamendi, Stones, Delph.
Referee: Martin Atkinson