Wolves bounced back from FA Cup disappointment against Southampton to take the Premier League spoils on the south coast, thanks to Pedro Neto’s brilliant winner.
Although the first 45 minutes fell the way of the hosts, who capitalised on their positive play through a stunning volleyed finish from Danny Ings midway through the half, it was Wolves who came out strong in the second period, equalising shortly after the break through a Ruben Neves penalty.
Wolves took the lead with 20 minutes of the second-half gone following some individual brilliance from Neto, as the old gold made it seven points from a possible nine in their last three top-flight matches.
Having rotated the majority of his team for the FA Cup clash between the two sides just three days previously, Nuno Espirito Santo reinstated six members of his squad, with Rui Patricio, Nelson Semedo, Conor Coady, Adama Traore, Neto and Willian Jose coming back into the starting 11 for the Premier League fixture.
The first opportunity of the match fell to the visitors as Neto whipped in a free-kick into the Saint’s box, and although Jose got his head to the ball, his effort missed high over Alex McCarhy’s crossbar.
From a quick break, Wolves gave themselves another chance to take the lead, as Jonny was played over the top before cutting the ball back to Neto. The Portuguese wingers cross into the box was headed clear but only as far as Joao Moutinho who took aim from 20 yards but miscued his shot, as the ball flew well wide of the right post.
Wolves goalkeeper Patricio, who was making his 99th Premier League start for the club at St Mary’s, had to be alert to deny Takumi Minamino on his home debut, after the on-loan Liverpool man got on the end of neat link-up play with Nathan Redmond and fired a low drive on target, but the stopper did well to strongly palm the ball away.
Moments after Wolves looked to catch Southampton out through Traore, who misjudged the ball in a dangerous position, the hosts counter-attacked well, and were indebted to Patricio once again as the keeper pushed a shot from Redmond which was heading into the far corner around his far post at full stretch.
The hosts finally broke the deadlock with 25 minutes on the clock as Ings volleyed a sumptuous strike like a rocket past Patricio. Stuart Armstrong went on a mazey run down the left before clipping an inch-perfect cross onto the foot of Ings inside the penalty area, and despite being surrounded by gold and black shirts, hit a first time shot into the back of the net.
Much like the first 45 minutes in the FA Cup match at Molineux days prior, chances were few and far between for the old gold as Wolves struggled to get a foothold in the tie against an organised Southampton defence, and headed into the break with everything to do.
Half-time: Southampton 1 Wolves 0
Wolves could not have started the second-half any differently from how they ended the first. Nuno’s men upped their pressure, pressing high and getting the ball into the final third of the pitch, and their performance got immediate rewards.
Semedo was picked out on the right flank and heads towards goal, and as he lets fly, his shot was blocked by the arm of Bertrand, with referee Graham Scott pointing for a penalty. As he has done with every chance so far this season, Neves stepped up from the spot and fired the ball high and past McCarthy’s left to bring his side level.
It was then the visitor’s chance to call for a penalty, moments after Coady had done well to deflect an Armstrong shot behind for a corner, as the Saints players believed the ball hit Leander Dendoncker’s arm in the box, but a quick VAR check proved there was nothing in it.
The turnaround was complete just ten minutes later thanks to a piece of magic from the boots of Neto.
Having found space on the right, the forward left Jannik Vestergaard in his wake as he turned and twisted his way past the defender and used his pace to bare down one-on-one on McCarthy, and with his left foot, curled an unstoppable shot inside the far post.
Although their second-half showing was much more like the Wolves of old, the gold and black were once again relying on the brilliance of Patricio to keep their lead, as the goalkeeper, playing one day before his 33rd birthday, firstly stopped out a James Ward-Prowse effort that was sneaking in the bottom corner before reacting to stop Che Adams from point blank range on the rebound.
Southampton were beginning to throw everything at Wolves to try and turn the tide back in their favour, but the visitors were holding strong to hold back the red and white waves, but even though Adams was able to break the staunch old gold defence, his header from inside the penalty area flew wide of the post.
As the game entered five added minutes, Wolves continued to clear any danger that was being poured into their half of the pitch and even brought Maximilian Kilman into the backline to make certain of the three points, which lifted them above Southampton and up to 12th in the Premier League table.
Full-time: Southampton 1 Wolves 2
Southampton: McCarthy, Walker-Peters (Salisu 71), Bednarek, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Armstrong (Adams 69), Minamino (Djenepo 62), Redmond, Ings.
Unused subs: Forster, Stephens, Chauke, Watts, Tella, Nlundulu.
Wolves: Patricio, Semedo, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Jonny (Marcal 69), Neves, Moutinho, Traore, Neto (Kilman 90), Jose (Silva 89).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Hoever, Ait-Nouri, Otasowie, Vitinha, Gibbs-White.
Referee: Graham Scott