Wolves 1 (Traore 35) Crystal Palace 0
Adama Traore’s piledriver booked Wolves’ place in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup at Molineux on Friday evening. The Spaniard’s first goal of the season was enough to see off Crystal Palace and set the wheels in motion for what Nuno Espirito Santo will hope is another adventure in the historic competition.
It was a piece of individual brilliance from the wide man, in a contest Wolves had the better of, as he cut inside on to his left foot and rifled an effort into the top corner, beyond the dive of Jack Butland. It was a goal worthy of winning the cup tie and could have been added to had it not been for Butland impressively denying Leander Dendoncker after the break.
John Ruddy, between the Wolves sticks, went untested throughout the cup tie, and the hosts remained a constant threat, bouncing back from last weekend’s disappointment at Brighton & Hove Albion in style and booking their place in Monday’s draw for the next round.
Nuno’s intensions in the competition which created such special memories two years ago were clear at a bitterly cold Molineux, as the head coach made just two changes to his side, and he should have been rewarded with an early goal when Pedro Neto carved out a fine opening for Fabio Silva, but when unmarked, the forward failed to find the desired connection and missed the target.
Wolves’ remained the more threatening throughout the opening half, while restricting Palace to few chances. First, a fine Joao Moutinho pass found Traore out wide, but the forward dragged his effort wide of the near post, while his partner in crime down the right Nelson Semedo improved on his shot soon after, forcing a low save out of Butland with a fierce strike.
While the former England stopper will have been happy with his work to deny Semedo, there was nothing he could do when faced with Traore’s next attempt. The Spaniard tricked his way inside, past Eberechi Eze, on to his left foot, eyed up Butland’s near post top corner and let fly with a rocket of a shot which flew in, giving Wolves the lead and Traore his first goal of the season.
Half-time: Wolves 1 Crystal Palace 0
The positive approach continued after the interval, as did the frequency of chances. Silva again found space and a sight of the Palace goal, from another Neto delivery, but again the youngster failed to find the target. Joao Moutinho did at least test Butland with his effort from range just before the hour mark, but the stop was a simple one for the goalkeeper.
With Palace growing into the contest, a second goals seemed vital for Wolves, and it nearly arrived when Traore beat van Aanholt all ends up and fed Dendoncker, making his first appearance in four, and the Belgian diverted towards the top corner, but Butland saved well at point-blank range. Moments later, Morgan Gibbs-White made his official return, having been recalled from Swansea City this week.
As so often is the case with Wolves, a counterattack always remained a genuine danger to Palace, and when Dendoncker recovered possession for Ruben Neves, he set Neto on his way. However, despite the attack bearing resemblance to his winner against Chelsea, this time the Portuguese drilled wide of the far post. Then, Patrick Cutrone followed Gibbs-White in making his return to Wolves official.
From there, it was a case of remaining solid for Wolves and that was achieved with great success. John Ruddy wasn’t tested, despite the Eagles asking more questions in the closing stages, which means it will be Wolves who’ll feature in Monday’s draw for the fourth round.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Crystal Palace 0
Wolves: Ruddy, Semedo, Coady, Saiss, Ait-Nouri, Neves, Dendoncker (Hoever 85), Moutinho, Traore (Gibbs-White 69), Neto, Silva (Cutrone 78).
Unused subs: Patricio, Richards, Kilman, Vitinha, Otasowie, Corbeanu.
Palace: Butland, Clyne, Tomkins, Sakho (Kouyate 46), Van Aanholt, Ayew, Riedewald, McCarthy (Mitchell 70), Eze, Batshuayi (Townsend 85), Benteke (Zaha 70).
Unused subs: Guaita, Ward, Kelly, McArthur, Milivojevic.