Wolves 1 (Neto 56) Fulham 0
Pedro Neto’s second-half strike helped Wolves earn their first win in three Premier League matches in a narrow victory over Fulham at Molineux.
The Portuguese winger’s driven effort into the bottom corner proved to be the difference in a close contest, in which Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola made several impressive saves to deny the hosts, before Neto’s winning strike secured the three points.
Making three changes to the side which fell to defeat at West Ham a week previously, Nuno brought Daniel Podence, Leander Dendoncker and Maximilian Kilman into the starting line-up, with the latter change seeing Romain Saiss move out to the left wing-back position.
And it was from Saiss’ bursting run down the left which brought about the first opportunity of the match as the Moroccan captain whipped in a cross to the far post, which was met by the head of Dendoncker, but his header was cleared off the line by Tim Ream, and just short of finding Raul Jimenez on the rebound.
Fulham had their opening chance of the tie just moments later when Antonee Robinson burst through a parting Wolves midfield and defence, before drilling a shot straight at Rui Patricio from the edge of the area.
It took a terrific double save by Fulham keeper Alphonse Areola to deny Nelson Semedo a goal on his home debut with the stopper at full stretch to firstly palm clear a Neto shot across goal, after Wolves won the ball on the edge of the visitor’s area, but Areola was quick to the rebound as he pushed Semedo’s first-time effort around the post.
Jimenez – fresh of signing a new four-year contract – used his trickery to almost put his side ahead as he flicked a Neto cross goalwards at the near post, but the Mexican couldn’t deflect the ball on target, narrowly missing Areola’s far post.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Fulham 0
Having had the majority of the chances to break the deadlock in the first-half, the hosts continued that in the second period, with Ruben Neves having Areola scrambling in the opening five minutes.
Following clever interplay between Semedo and Dendoncker on the right, the Belgian cut the ball to Neves on the edge of the Fulham penalty area, but the Portuguese’s low curling effort was placed inches wide of the upright.
Areola had to be at his best again to deny Wolves two quick chances as Jimenez was played in over the top by Kilman before the keeper stood up well to save, and then the Fulham stopper denied Dendoncker on the rebound.
But his hard work was undone just moments later, as Wolves took the lead through Neto. The Portuguese forward found the ball at his feet on the left after Dendoncker’s powerful shot was blocked, before firing a pinpoint low drive across Areola and into the bottom corner of the net.
From a free-kick to Wolves in a dangerous position that was punched clear by Areola, Fulham caught the hosts on the counter, coming close to an equaliser. Two on one, Aleksandar Mitrovic played the ball across to Aboubarkar Kamara, but the forward fired his shot directly at Patricio.
Wolves tried to push for their second of the afternoon, with goalscorer Neto using his pace to power through the Fulham defence and aim a shot on target, but his effort was blocked. Following another quick break, Jimenez was through, but miscommunication between the Mexican and Ki-Jana Hoever saw the play break down.
Despite Wolves’ attacking play, Fulham were continuing to catch Wolves on the break, and came close once again when Neeskens Kebano found space 20 yards out from goal, but fired a strong effort narrowly over Patricio’s crossbar.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Fulham 0
Wolves: Patricio, Semedo (Hoever 78), Boly, Coady, Kilman, Saiss, Neves, Dendoncker, Podence (Moutinho 70), Neto (Traore 82), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Buur, Vitinha, Silva.
Fulham: Areola, Olufisayo, Ream, Le Marchand, Bryan (Kamara 67), Robinson, Anguissa, Cairney, Cavaleiro (Lookman 67), De Cordova-Reid (Kebano 81), Mitrovic.
Unused subs: Hector, Odoi, Johansen, Rodak.
Referee: Darren England