Wolves 1 (Saiss 86) Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Ndombele 1)
Romain Saiss made it three goals in four festive fixtures for Wolves as the Moroccan captain’s second-half header earned a well-deserved point for his side against Tottenham Hotspur.
The hosts fell behind in the opening minute at Molineux when Tanguy Ndombele drove the ball into the net from far-range after Wolves were unable to deal with a set-piece delivery, before Saiss snatched a point – which was nothing less than his side deserved having dominated much of the Premier League contest – towards the end of the tie, as he glanced a Pedro Neto corner inside the far post.
Less than 60 seconds were on the clock when the visitors took the lead. After Rui Patricio was able to deflect the ball out for a corner after Heung-Min Son was played in over the top, Spurs made it count from the resulting set-piece.
The corner was only half-cleared by the gold and black shirts inside the penalty area and fell perfectly to Ndombele on the edge of the box who hammered a low drive into the back of the net from 20 yards out.
Wolves tried to give an immediate response having fallen behind, but Neto’s dangerously whipped cross into the opposition box was unable to be diverted goalwards by the onrushing Fabio Silva.
The host’s first true opportunity to get back into the game came through Daniel Podence. Following tricky footwork by Adama Traore to dance around the Spurs defence, the winger laid it off to the Portuguese forward, who took a touch but was unable to generate power into his shot from the edge of the box, allowing Hugo Lloris to make a comfortable save down to his left.
Wolves continued to push for a way back into the match, but Saiss – who had two goals in Wolves' previous three festive fixtures after scoring in post-Christmas Championship draws against Fulham and Millwall – could only hit his free-kick from just outside the penalty area into the wall, before Podence’s cut back into the box fell to a Spurs man who was able to clear the danger.
After positives spells by Tottenham, Wolves worked their way back into the contest, and could have levelled the scoreline when Nelson Semedo found Silva in space inside the Spurs box, but from the cut-back, the Portuguese forward struck the ball the wrong side of the post and just skimming the side netting on its way behind. Lloris was then equal to another Podence shot from the centre of the area following patient build-up by those in gold and black.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Tottenham 1
As with Spurs in the first period, within the first 60 seconds of the second-half, there was drama in front of the South Bank, but this time, it was Wolves who looked likely to score.
Firstly, Silva powered through goalside of Eric Dier, and went down under a challenge from the Spurs defender, but referee Paul Tierney consulted VAR which decided there was no contact between the two. From a corner which followed, Saiss flicked a header towards goal, but it was not powerful enough to beat Lloris, who gathered the ball comfortably.
After Dier floated a free-kick beyond Patricio’s upright, Wolves broke quickly through Neto, with the forward using his pace and skill to skip past several in Spurs green to get to the left of the penalty area before cutting a cross in towards Silva, but Lloris was quick off his line and took a hefty knock from the Wolves forward as the pair raced for the ball.
Deflections denied Wolves a pair of chances to equalise. The first saw a Ruben Neves rocket from 20 yards deflect out for a corner after it looked to be just dipping under Lloris’ crossbar, before Neto found space on the edge of the box and his shot was also put behind by a Spurs defender.
Nuno was enforced into a change with 15 minutes remaining, as Marcal went over on his ankle and had to be replaced by Rayan Ait-Nouri, but that alteration did not affect Wolves’ flow as the hosts pushed for an equaliser, with Neves once again drawing a low save from Lloris from a shot from distance which was heading into the bottom corner.
Their positive play was rewarded with less than five minutes to go as a corner from the right was whipped into the near post by Neto and directly onto the head of the onrushing Saiss who guided his effort in at the far stick.
Having got back level, the hosts pressed for a winning goal, with Silva firing a wild effort wide of the post and into the South Bank. The forward had the last chance of the game to earn his side all three points when he got on the end of a lofted ball over the top of the Spurs defence, but his downward header bounced safely into Lloris’ hands, which saw the game finish all square.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Tottenham 1
Wolves: Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Saiss, Marcal (Ait-Nouri 75), Neves, Moutinho (Otasowie 83), Traore, Podence (Vitinha 90), Neto, Silva.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Kilman, Cundle, Perry, Corbeanu.
Tottenham: Lloris, Doherty, Dier, Sanchez, Davies, Reguilon (Bergwijn 63), Hojbjerg, Winks, Ndombele (Sissoko 70), Son (Lamela 83), Kane.
Unused subs: Hart, Alderweireld, Rodon, Tanganga, Aurier, Dele.
Referee: Paul Tierney