Wolves 1 (Neto 76) Southampton 1 (Walcott 58)
Pedro Neto’s strike seven minutes after coming off the bench was enough to earn his Wolves side a point in their Premier League encounter with Southampton.
The Portuguese pounced on a Raul Jimenez shot that had ricocheted off the post, while Theo Walcott had put the Saints ahead, scoring 15 years after his last goal in red and white. Visiting goalkeeper Alex McCarthy had to be at his best to keep his side in the match as Wolves peppered his goal with shots throughout the 90 minutes, but could not find the winning effort.
With Conor Coady and Romain Saiss unable to be involved against Southampton, Nuno switched to a four-man defence for the first time in his Wolves managerial career, with Joao Moutinho coming in to make a three-man midfield.
And it was the Portuguese magician who had the first opportunity of the game when he lined up a free-kick on the edge of the box after Daniel Podence was scythed down as he raced through the Saints defence.
Although Moutinho couldn’t beat the wall, the ball deflected to Nelson Semedo, who hit a shot from 25 yards out, which McCarthy parried, but only as far as Leander Dendoncker who beat the offside trap to get an effort on goal, but McCarthy was quick to his feet and made a stunning point-blank save to direct the ball over his crossbar.
After McCarthy had stopped Southampton from going behind, it was then Rui Patricio’s turn to save his side, with the Portuguese keeper getting down well to save Walcott’s shot across goal after the forward had snuck in behind the Wolves defence.
Wolves continued to search for the opening goal, with Willy Boly heading over the crossbar before Adama Traore tested McCarthy with a shot from 30 yards after weaving his way past several in white and red, but Southampton could have been ahead had Stuart Armstrong put the ball a foot to the right after getting behind Boly and having a shot at goal, but his effort rolled wide.
McCarthy had to be alert with 35 minutes on the clock when Podence flicked a Moutinho free-kick goalwards, but the Saints keeper was able to palm the forward’s header over his crossbar. Moments earlier, Podence – the shortest man on the pitch – had headed another effort wide of the post.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Southampton 0
Soon after the half-time break, Wolves were on the ascendancy once again, with Podence having a glorious opportunity to open the scoring. The forward was played in behind the Saints defence by Rayan Ait-Nouri, and after twisting outside he let fly at goal, but McCarthy was able to parry his effort out for a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Jimenez could only head wide.
In spite of Wolves’ positive play, Nuno’s men fell behind just before the hour mark. With Ait-Nouri on the ground after a heavy challenge, Southampton play the ball out to the space vacated by the full-back to Che Adams who, after seeing his first cross blocked by Maximilian Kilman, sends his second effort across the Wolves penalty area to Walcott at the far post, who had the easiest of chances to tap the ball into the back of the net.
Traore was using his pace to get behind the Southampton defence as Wolves attempted to respond immediately, but his cross could not find a gold and black shirt, but Southampton continued to catch Wolves napping at the back, as Walcott fired an effort wide having been played clean through, one-on-one with Patricio.
At the other end, Ruben Neves looked for Jimenez over the top, and although the striker was able to bring down the pass, his attempted effort over McCarthy was cut out by the Saints keeper.
Moments after coming off the bench, Neto could have got Wolves back on level terms. A quick break from Traore saw the forward lose his man before cutting the ball back to Podence, he left it for Neto who saw his low effort blocked by McCarthy at close range.
But Neto didn’t have to wait long to celebrate. Moutinho picked up the ball 25 yards out before playing in Jimenez who thumped an effort from the edge of the box off the base of the post, but the Portuguese forward raced onto the loose ball to smash home the equaliser.
Wolves were piling on the pressure and it almost told with just over ten minutes remaining in the game when Jimenez planted a header past McCarthy and into the top corner from Moutinho’s whipped free-kick, but the assistant’s flag was up for a clear offside against the Mexican.
The hosts were looking the likeliest to snatch a late winner as Neto was driving shots towards McCarthy’s goal, but Southampton were defending stoutly and putting their bodies on the line to keep Wolves out, earning a draw in the process.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Southampton 1
Wolves: Patricio, Semedo, Boly, Kilman, Ait-Nouri, Neves (Neto 69), Dendoncker, Moutinho, Podence (Vitinha 85), Traore, Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Marcal, Otasowie, Moutinho.
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters, Vestergaard, Bednarek, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Diallo 90), Djenepo (Long 79), Walcott, Adams.
Unused subs: Forster, Stephens, Tella, N’Lundulu, Obafemi.
Referee: Andre Mariner