Wolves were eliminated from the Carabao Cup on penalties for the second season running as their efforts in a highly competitive goalless draw with Leicester City went unrewarded.
What had gone before was a well-contested cup tie which either side could have progressed from in 90 minutes. Despite changes to both sides, competitive teams were fielded and although Leicester may have edged proceedings, Wolves had chances to go through.
Ruben Vinagre tested Ward with a near post strike in the first-half and Morgan Gibbs-White was also denied by the stopper after the break. As for the Foxes, John Ruddy produced a vital save to stop Marc Albrighton claiming the only goal in normal time.
So, it went to penalties and the shootout belonged to Leicester’s goalkeeper Ward who produced a remarkable four saves, with only Benny Ashley-Seal converting for Wolves. Two visitors missed two of their own penalties, but it mattered not as they edged the shootout 3-1.
A welcome break from Premier League action, but Wolves and Leicester had no intention of letting up. Vincente Iborra was particularly fired up and drilled the first effort wide from range, before nodding the second of the game over the bar.
Just last month Wolves were unfortunate in defeat at the King Power Stadium, but back on their own patch they wanted to make an impression and Adama Traore and Ivan Cavaleiro combined, before Jonny Otto, enjoying a rare run-out on the right, blazed his volley over the bar.
This was Cavaleiro’s first appearance of the season having struggled with injuries, but it was his fellow left-sided player Vinagre who came close on 21 minutes, but his powerful effort towards Ward’s near post needed tipping over by the goalkeeper.
Former England striker Jamie Vardy was leading Leicester’s line and his first sight of goal was wasted as he sliced Iborra’s clever pass wide. City came closer to taking the lead not long past the half-hour mark as Vinagre inadvertently directed a cross towards his own goal, only for Conor Coady to clear off the line.
With half-time approaching a rasping Albrighton effort stung the palms of Ruddy, while at the other end Wes Morgan was well-placed to block from Cavaleiro seconds before the half-time whistle went at Molineux.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Leicester 0
The Foxes began the second-half brightly and after Rachid Ghezzal shot at Ruddy, Ricardo Pereira flashed an effort just wide of the mark.
As for Wolves, Cavaleiro battled with Pereira for a sight of goal and shot wide, despite the offside flag already being up, and the winger’s evening was over at that point, with Diogo Jota taking his place before the next restart.
The game was opening up after the interval and City should have gone ahead when Albrighton snuck in between Kortney Hause and Vinagre, but the defender had the goalkeeper to bail them out as Ruddy produced a strong hand to make the save.
Both sides were looking to win the contest in 90 minutes and a Traore-led counter attack sparked the next opening for Wolves, but Gibbs-White couldn’t beat Ward with his powerful effort.
Ryan Bennett was the next man to join the action, taking the place of Otto at right-wing back. Then came a moment to remember for Ashley-Seal who took the place of Bonatini to make his Molineux debut.
As the board went up for four added minutes, Wolves came close to the winner as Bennett rose highest to meet a Gibbs-White free-kick but watched his header land on the roof of Ward’s net.
The contest ended on a sombre note however as Leicester’s Demarai Gray fell awkwardly in a challenge with Bennett. In visible pain, the winger was stretchered off, before the contest went to penalties.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Leicester 0
Fuchs (Leicester) MISSES 0-0
Saiss (Wolves) MISSES 0-0
Ghezzal (Leicester) SCORES 0-1
Jota (Wolves) MISSES 0-1
Choudhury (Leicester) MISSES 0-1
Ashley-Seal (Wolves) SCORES 1-1
Iborra (Leicester) SCORES 1-2
Traore (Wolves) MISSES 1-2
Iheanacho (Leicester) SCORES 1-3
Full-time: Wolves 0 Leicester 0 (1-3 on pens)
Wolves: Ruddy, Otto (Bennett 75), Dendoncker, Coady, Hause, VInagre, Saiss, Gibbs-White, Cavaleiro (Jota 57), Traore, Bonatini (Ashley-Seal 83)
Unused subs: Norris, Giles, Watt, Goncalves.
Leicester: Ward, Pereira, Evans, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton, Iborra, Silva (Choudhury 84), Ghezzal, Okazaki (Gray 61), Vardy (Iheanacho 61).
Unused subs: Jakupovic, Soyuncu, Amartey, Diabete.
Referee: Paul Tierney