Wolves 0 Southampton 2 (Ings 49, Armstrong 90)
On a bitterly cold evening at Molineux, Wolves were knocked out of the 2020/21 Emirates FA Cup at the fifth round stage thanks to two second-half goals from Southampton.
After the first 45 minutes had ended goalless, Danny Ings was able to get in behind the Wolves defence to fire his side ahead, before Stuart Armstrong put the game beyond doubt in the last minute of regular time following a mistake from John Ruddy in the Wolves goal.
Nuno rang the changes for the visit of the Saints, bringing Ruddy, Romain Saiss, Ki-Jana Hoever, Morgan Gibbs-White, Vitinha and Fabio Silva into the starting 11 for the FA Cup clash.
But it was the visitors who started the stronger of the two sides, with Ruddy having to be alert to a couple of early chances. Southampton were putting cross after cross into the area, but the ones that the Wolves goalkeeper didn’t deal with initially, he made sure he eventually kept them out of his net.
Having palmed down a shot, Ruddy got down well to deny Ings’ goalbound backheel from crossing over the line before watching Moussa Djenepo’s shot fire straight over his crossbar into the South Bank behind his goal after Saiss had made a crucial sliding block and got his boot on Ings’ effort.
In a first half hour which was devoid of many moments of absolute quality, the Wolves players felt they should have been awarded a penalty when Gibbs-White went down in the box after going down under a challenge from debutant Mohammed Salisu, but after VAR was consulted, their claims were dismissed.
The game turned scrappy towards the end of the half, but Wolves were let off when Nathan Redmond found the ball at his feet following a cross from the left, but the Saints midfielder can only loop a shot harmlessly into the arms of Ruddy.
Just before the break, the hosts had their best opportunity of the half, as Joao Moutinho’s free-kick was lifted into the centre of the box and having found space in behind the Saints defence after beating the offside trap, Saiss hit a half-volley straight into the North Bank without troubling Fraser Forster.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Southampton 0
As they did in the first 45 minutes, Southampton came out of the break looking the stronger side, and gave Wolves a warning shot straight from the off as Armstrong was played across the penalty area, and with an open goal to aim at, fired his effort wide.
It didn’t take long for Sains to take the lead. Ings made a well-timed run to get onto the end of Ryan Bertrand’s through ball and although Ruddy got something on the Southampton striker’s effort, it still had enough power to creep over the goalline. The assistant referee’s flag went up for offside against Ings, but after a VAR check, the goal was given.
Wolves had a big chance to get themselves immediately back in the tie through Silva but having got on the end of Gibbs-White’s cross, he was unable to keep his shot from a matter of yards out from goal on target.
The hosts, who had brough Adama Traore, Willian Jose and Pedro Neto off the bench to try to turn the game in their favour, were left at sixes and sevens midway through the half when Armstrong danced around the weak tackles of the men in gold and black before laying the ball through to Redmond who was facing Ruddy one-on-one, but the Wolves keeper made a big save to keep his side in the game.
It was Forster’s turn to be his team’s hero with just over ten minutes remaining after Neto raced in down the left before firing a perfectly weighted cross into the middle which teased the Saints defence and landed at the feet of Traore, whose first time shot was cleared off the line by the Southampton keeper.
As the game went into four minutes of added time, Southampton dealt Wolves the killer blow, as a mistake from Ruddy allowed Armstrong a chance a goal from inside the penalty area and he curled an effort off the inside of the post and into the back of the net.
Having added a second, Southampton almost got handed a third when Jon Moss pointed to the penalty spot after Moutinho had brought down Nathan Tella, but VAR adjudged the foul to have taken place outside the area.
However, that reprieve came all too little too late for Wolves, as their FA Cup journey was over as the final whistle was blown immediately after the free-kick was taken.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Southampton 2
Wolves: Ruddy, Hoever, Dendoncker, Saiss, Kilman, Jonny (Ait-Nouri 46), Neves, Moutinho, Vitinha (Neto 69), Gibbs-White (Traore 63), Silva (Jose 63).
Unused subs: Patricio, Semedo, Coady, Otasowie, Cundle.
Southampton: Forster, Walker-Peters, Salisu, Bednarek, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong, Djenepo (Tella 87), Ings (Adams 82), Redmond.
Unused subs: Lewis, Vestergaard, Stephens, Finnigan, Chauke, Watts, Nlundulu.
Referee: Jon Moss