Report | Aston Villa 1-1 Wolves

Aston Villa 1 (Ings 79) Wolves 1 (Podence 12)

Wolves’ impressive first-half showing at Villa Park fell apart after the break to allow Aston Villa the opportunity to earn a point in the opening Premier League match of 2023.

Daniel Podence opened the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour with a sublime solo effort which ended up with him curling a shot inside the far post from just inside the Villa box. With the hosts back in the game in the second period, Danny Ings found space over the top of the Wolves defence and made no mistake with his finish to secure a point.

Julen Lopetegui named an unchanged side from that which began the final game of 2022 at home to Manchester United and his players rewarded him for his loyalty with arguably their best first-half performance of the season.

The men in gold and black dominated from the first whistle to the last during the opening 45 minutes and were probably worthy of more than just their one goal lead heading into the break.

Before Podence opened the scoring, Wolves had several chances to take the lead as they put cross after cross into the box which the Villa defence were just about dealing with. Nathan Collins came the closest when his header was cleared off the line by Ezri Konsa.

However, it took just over 10 minutes for Wolves to go ahead. Podence’s initially corner was cleared but only as far as the winger who played a clever one-two with Joao Moutinho, before he ghosted into the Villa penalty area, took the ball around two claret and blue shirts and curled an unstoppable effort inside the far post.

Wolves kept up their pressing and attacking instinct throughout the first-half and it was only for the reflexes of former old gold keeper Emi Martinez to stop the visitors from doubling their lead. Matheus Nunes was picked out in space behind the Villa defence before seeing his effort blocked by the Argentinian World Cup winner – who was paraded in front of the fans ahead of kick-off, together with his infamous Golden Glove award.

Despite all of Wolves’ positive play, Villa were never out of the contest and Jose Sa had to be alert in goal to deny Lucas Digne whose well-struck free-kick looked to be heading underneath the crossbar.

Most of the visitors’ threat on goal in the half came from corners as Podence and Moutinho continually put dangerous balls into the box, but unfortunately for Lopetegui’s side, they were not able to convert from their headed chances, taking just the one goal lead into the break.

Half-time | Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves

All of Wolves’ good work unravelled during the second-half. Villa came out from the break looking like a team on a mission and if it was the visitors who were the dominant side in the first-half, it was the hosts who had advantage in the second.

The gold and black shirts were camped inside their half as they did everything they could to stop Villa from getting back into the contest. Maximilian Kilman and Collins were heading cross after cross away from their box, while Villa were peppering Sa’s goal with chances.

It took an outstanding clearance off the line by Kilman to delay Villa from getting back level, with the defender producing a stunning piece of defending to flick Ludwig Augustinsson’s shot wide of the post.

But it didn’t take long for the host’s pressure to tell. A long ball over the top of the Wolves defence was taken in his stride by Ings who lifted the ball with his second touch over Sa, who slipped as he tried to close down the striker.

Both sides had opportunities to win the contest in the closing stages as Wolves gave a debut to new signing Matheus Cunha, but the Brazilian was unable to turn the game in his side’s favour, while Adama Traore also did his best with the few balls he was being fed.

After two goals in recent weeks, Rayan Ait-Nouri had Wolves’ best opportunity as he stung Martinez’s fingertips with a rasping shot, but the best chance fell Villa’s way.

With what was almost the last kick of the game, Leon Bailey was played through on goal with the Wolves players out of position from their own attack, and after rounding Sa, Bailey scuffed his effort and shot wide of the post with an open goal in front of him.

Full-time | Aston Villa 1-1 Wolves

Villa | Martinez, A. Young (Coutinho 46), Konsa, Mings, Digne (Augustinsson 67), Cash, Kamara, Luiz (Dendoncker 67), Buendia, Bailey, Watkins (Ings 67).

Unused subs | Olsen, Chambers, Bednarek, Sanson, K. Young.

Wolves | Sa, Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno (Toti 80), Neves, Nunes, Moutinho (Hodge 59), Hwang (Ait-Nouri 59), Podence (A. Traore 46), Costa (Cunha 66).

Unused subs | Sarkic, Jonny, Guedes, Jimenez.

Referee | Jarred Gillett