Report | Fulham 3-2 Wolves

Fulham 3 (Iwobi 8, Willian 59 PEN, 90+4 PEN) Wolves 2 (Cunha 22, Hwang 75 PEN)

VAR controversy rained on Wolves once again as Gary O’Neil’s side fell to defeat against Fulham following a five-goal thriller at Craven Cottage.

Wolves had to fight back twice after falling behind, the first saw Matheus Cunha head the ball into the net at the far post midway through the first-half, before Hee Chan Hwang dispatched his side’s first penalty of 2023/24 late on.

But as has been the case time and time again with Wolves this season, it was contentious VAR penalty decisions which impacted the game in their opposition's favour. Nelson Semedo was unfortunate not to have his challenge on Tom Cairney in the box overturned after the defender appeared to get a touch to the ball first before clipped the midfielder just after half-time.

Then, in the fourth minute of added time, Joao Gomes’ challenge on Harry Wilson was initially not given by the referee, but VAR told him to overturn it. This allowed Willian to find the net twice for the hosts and condemn Wolves to another controversial loss.

The visitors made a slow start to the match, as has been the case at many of Wolves’ games away from Molineux so far this season, which allowed Fulham to take the lead inside the opening 10 minutes of the contest.

Antonee Robinson used his pace to get past Jean-Ricner Bellegarde and into the Wolves box, where he picked up the ball and fire a low cross into the path of Iwobi who turned it past Jose Sa from close range.

Wolves were relying on their goalkeeper to stop them from falling even further behind early on, as Sa twice made clever stops to deny the Cottagers. Firstly, the Portuguese stopped Raul Jimenez at the far post before recovering to palm away Cairney’s drive from 20 yards out.

The visitors came inches away from getting back on level terms just before the quarter-hour mark, as Mario Lemina’s defence splitting low drive found the run of Hwang, and after beating Tim Ream for pace, fired a powerful effort at goal, but it cannoned back off the top of the crossbar.

Wolves weren’t to be denied for long, however, as Cunha soon headed home an equaliser. Following incredible footwork by Bellegarde down the Old Gold’s right, who turned Robinson inside out, the Frenchman clipped a cross to the far post where Cunha was waiting to apply the finish.

In an end-to-end first-half, both teams tested their opposition goalkeepers, with Sa coming off his line to stop Willian after Maximilian Kilman had blocked a Cairney effort. Then it was Bernd Leno’s turn to deny Wolves, as the Fulham keeper clawed the ball away from going over the line in a potential own goal situation, before Toti’s low cross – looking for Cunha – was cut out by Timothy Castagne.

The Fulham keeper was given a huge let off just before the break as his lack touch, 12 yards out, was almost capitalised on by Lemina, but the ball fell to the Wolves midfielder just too wide to get a shot on goal and the chance went begging.

Half-time | Fulham 1-1 Wolves

An intense first-half was not replicated in the early stages of the second, with neither team able to put a passage of play together, as the ball was switching between the teams following loose passes and possession getting given away.

But the first bit of quality almost saw Wolves take the lead for the first time in the match as Hwang put a dangerous cross into the near post for the onrushing Matt Doherty, but the first-half substitute – who replaced the injured Rayan Ait-Nouri on 19 minutes – was unable to beat Castagne to the ball. Moments later, Wolves tested Leno as Kilman’s header from a corner was parried by the Fulham keeper, who recovered to stop Cunha from tapping in from close range.

However, it was the visitors who restored their lead just before the hour mark as Willian dispatched from the penalty spot following a challenge by Semedo on Cairney. Although VAR checked to see if the Wolves defender touched the ball first, which for 99 per cent of those watching, he did, VAR among the one per cent, and the decision wasn’t overturned allowing the experienced Brazilian to put his side back in front.

Sa came to Wolves’ rescue when Iwobi got in on goal after a mix-up between Toti and Santiago Bueno – on his Premier League debut – but the goalkeeper pulled off a good one-handed save to deny the former Arsenal and Everton man, which was all the better as the visitors earned themselves a penalty – their first of the season.

Hwang was the man fouled inside the Fulham box by Ream as the South Korean raced in on goal, and he was also the man who stepped up to the spot to get Wolves level for the second time in the game as he fired hard down the middle of the goal.

Late chances continued for both Fulham and Wolves as Doherty and Iwobi tested their opposite keepers, while Kilman had to be clever to cut out a dangerous Willian cross, while several players were picking up bookings as the game got heated, including Joao Gomes and Lemina, meaning the midfield pair would miss the weekend’s trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.

As the game entered added time, Fulham had another penalty shout, as Gomes was adjudged to have clipped Wilson in the box. Despite the referee initially not awarding the spot kick, referee Michael Salisbury was sent to the screen by VAR and it was overturned, allowing Willian to find the net and steal all three points for the hosts.

Full-time | Fulham 3-2 Wolves

Fulham | Leno, Castagne, Ream, Bassey, Robinson, Reed, Cairney, Pereira (Wilson 76), Iwobi, Willian, Jimenez (Vinicius 76).

Unused subs | Rodak, Tete, Adarabioyo, Ballo-Toure, Cordova-Reid, Lukic, Harris.

Wolves | Sa, Semedo, Kilman, S. Bueno, Toti, Ait-Nouri (Doherty 19), Lemina, Gomes, Bellegarde (Kalajdzic 62), Hwang, Cunha (Doyle 84).

Unused subs | Bentley, Jonny, H. Bueno, Traore, Sarabia, Silva.

Referee | Michael Salisbury