Report | Wolves 1-0 Aston Villa

Wolves 1 (Toti 9) Aston Villa 0

Victory on derby day with Aston Villa tasted all the sweeter for Wolves come Saturday evening, as Toti’s early goal took the Old Gold on to 40 Premier League points and within touching distance of survival.

The defender’s bullet header, which cannoned in off the underside of the crossbar just nine minutes in, settled a typically lively West Midlands clash and secured Wolves a fourth successive Molineux triumph, creating a ten-point gap on the drop zone.

Toti’s first goal for the club wasn’t added to, with striking duo Matheus Cunha and Diego Costa both coming close, but it mattered not as a fiery atmosphere brought home the three points, which could lead to Premier League safety later this weekend.

Calling for a reaction after a defeat is a go-to cliché in football, but after the humiliation at Brighton & Hove Albion a week ago, Wolves needed to show what they were about, and the visit of West Midlands rivals Aston Villa to Molineux was the perfect opportunity. Those in old gold on the terraces were on it from the start, and those in the same colour on the pitch responded.

Once Matheus Nunes won Wolves the first corner of the game, all eyes were on John McGinn grappling with Craig Dawson, but instead it was Toti ready to arrive on the scene, beating Tyrone Mings with a towering header, which thundered off the underside of the crossbar and in to give his side an early lead.

Of course, that wasn’t going to be the end of it, however. Jose Sa was quickly called into action moments later and at full-stretch brilliantly turned Emiliano Buendia’s drive around the post. Villa had responded and Ollie Watkins was beaten in the air by Maximilian Kilman, but managed to acrobatically connect with the loose ball, only to see it drop wide.

That was a half-chance, but the next one which fell the striker’s way should have been put away. Jacob Ramsey was freed down the left and clipped in a cross which Kilman misjudged, and Watkins met, but his planted header landed into the grateful hands of Sa.

Fortunately, the goalkeeper didn’t need to intervene when Buendia got in moments later, as Dawson threw himself in the way before the Argentine could get his shot away. For Wolves, their next best chance came on the stroke of half-time, as Costa chested down to Matheus Cunha, but the striker couldn’t keep his left-footed shot down from the edge of the box.

Half-time | Wolves 1-0 Aston Villa

Wolves ended the first half with a chance to double their lead and began the second in similar fashion. Pedro Neto was the creator this time, sending Costa clean through, but the Spaniard shot straight at Martinez to let Villa off the hook. Nunes also tried his luck with an ambitious volley during the opening stages of a half which Wolves began well.

The best Villa could muster in the first 15 of the second period was a sweeping effort from Ashley Young, which Sa watched across his goal and wide. Wolves were the better team however, and when Nunes sprayed the ball to Neto on the left, he roasted Konsa and returned to the midfielder across goal, but a vital touch from Diego Carlos took it from his toe.  

Carlos’ central defensive partner Mings then passed up a fine chance to equalise, volleying Douglas Luiz’s free-kick over, after losing Kilman. However, Villa failed to call Sa into action again, despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession, with the hosts remaining resolute and competitive, battling for every ball.

Like the players, the crowd were relentless, and as Dawson held off Ramsey in the corner in front of the South Bank, the decibels raised further, and the full-time whistle spark joyous scenes of celebration – another Premier League season is now within touching distance.

Full-time | Wolves 1-0 Aston Villa

Wolves | Sa, Semedo, Dawson, Kilman, Toti, Neves, Lemina, Nunes (Moutinho 90), Neto (Adama 83), Cunha (Hwang 67), Costa (Collins 83).

Unused subs | Bentley, Ait-Nouri, Gomes, Sarabia, Podence.

Villa | Martinez, Young (Carlos 65), Mings, Konsa, Moreno (Digne 85), Luiz (Kamara 85), McGinn, Ramsey, Buendia (Duran 81), Traore (Bailey 46), Watkins.

Unused subs | Olsen, Chambers, Coutinho, Dendoncker.