Wolves 0 Crystal Palace 2 (Ayew 83, Milivojevic 94)
Wolves started 2019 in frustrating fashion after falling to a 2-0 Premier League defeat to Crystal Palace at Molineux.
Jordan Ayew’s 83rd minute strike from inside the area and a late Luka Milivojevic penalty was enough to condemn Wolves to back-to-back home defeats in the league, following four points from their previous two matches on the road.
Nuno Espirito continued to rotate his midfield at Molineux, with Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker dropping to the bench following their starts at Wembley on Saturday for Joao Moutinho and Romain Saiss, while Helder Costa came in for Adama Traore.
The game started scrappy, with neither side forcing a save from the goalkeepers Rui Patricio and Vincente Guaita within the first ten minutes.
But it was Wolves who had the first attempt of the match when Raul Jimenez picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and drove into the Palace half. The Mexican striker looked to score from distance and took aim from 25-yards out from the visitor’s goal, but he couldn’t keep his shot down and it narrowly headed over the bar and into the North Bank.
After soaking up a spell of Wolves pressure, Palace had a chance to take the lead. Andros Townsend robbed Willy Boly of the ball on the right flank and set his team on the break. The midfielder played in Milivojevic who went for goal from the edge of the box, but Patricio was able to get a hand to his long-range effort and palmed the ball over the crossbar.
With 35 minutes on the clock and Wolves had a perfect chance to go ahead. A corner whipped into the centre of the area from the left from Ivan Cavaleiro landed straight on the head of an unmarked Boly, but unlike at Tottenham on Saturday, the Frenchman can’t get a great contact on it.
Instead, his header ends up at the back-post and towards the onrushing Matt Doherty who, from just a few yards out, could only power his headed effort over the bar.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Crystal Palace 0
Wolves came out flying in start the second half, as Jimenez was played in down the left-hand side. He raced forward, taking on Palace players left and right as he angled his run towards the box. But from about 10-yards out Jimenez plays a pass across goal towards Costa, who was making a burst into the box, but the forward was blocked from reaching the ball.
The home side continued the pressure in the opening stages of the second 45 minutes. Jonny Otto did well to get the ball of Aaron Wan-Bissaka on the Palace goal-line, with his tackle ending up at the feet of Cavaleiro who crossed to Doherty. However, the Irishman couldn’t force the ball over the line.
Jonny was the next Wolves player who had a sighting at goal when the ball was played back to him on the edge of the area by Doherty, who had made a powerful run through the Palace defence. After Doherty raced through into the area he pulled the ball back to Jonny in the centre of the pitch, who, from 20-yards out, could only fire a shot high over the crossbar.
Palace had their first chance of the second half after 65 minutes, when Morgan Gibbs-White, who had just been sent onto the pitch, was disposed in the centre of the pitch. The ball found its way to Ayew who sprinted through the Wolves defence. However, Conor Coady put enough pressure on the forward who could only power his shot off target.
With just eight minutes left on the clock Palace went ahead. After several chances to take the lead and shots flying in from all angles being blocked by Wolves players, the visitors got the break through. Following a scramble in the area, the ball was cleared to Wilfred Zaha who fired a shot goal-bound, but it ended up at the feet of Ayew who hit an unstoppable shot, from half-way inside the box, past Patricio.
Wolves were spurred on after going behind and Neves, on as a substitute, came close to getting his side level when he aimed a powerful drive from outside the area goalwards, but Guaita was able to get his hands to the stinging shot and push the ball around the post.
But it was drama in injury time as Zaha, played in down the Palace left, was brought down by Bennett and referee Roger East pointed to the spot. With the last kick of the match, Milivojevic place his penalty past Patricio’s right to seal all three points for the visitors.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Crystal Palace 2
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny, Saiss (Neves 72), Moutinho, Cavaleiro (Traore 84), Costa (Gibbs-White 64), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Vinagre, Dendoncker, Bonatini.
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Wan-Bissaka, Tomkins, Sakho, Van Aanholt, Milivojevic, Kouyate, McArthur, Townsend, Zaha, Ayew (Wickham 88).
Unused subs: Hennessey, Ward, Kelly, Riedewald, Schlupp, Meyer.
Referee: Roger East