Report | Wolves 3-0 Everton

Wolves 3 (Kilman 25, Cunha 53, Dawson 60) Everton 0

Wolves saved one of their finest performances of 2023 for the final day, as Gary O’Neil’s side stylishly defeated Everton to make it three wins from three over the festive period.

Skipper Maximilian Kilman’s first goal of the season, a scrambled opener, allowed the Wolves players to pay tribute to Mario Lemina, who sadly lost his father this week, and the midfielder will be proud of the performance his team mates produced in his absence.

Matheus Cunha slammed home Hee Chan Hwang’s cross for 2-0 quickly after the break and the Brazilian was again involved when he centred for Craig Dawson, who joined Kilman in getting off the mark for the season. It could have been more, with the Old Gold relentless on the break, but the 3-0 win provided the perfect ending to a successful calendar year.

The success of Christmas for Wolves left those arriving at Molineux in a buoyant mood, and the hosts threatened just minutes in. From Everton’s free-kick, Wolves broke with three against one and when Cunha fed Hwang, the South Korean rounded Jordan Pickford but was defeated by the angle, allowing Everton bodies to retreat and clear the danger.

Cunha then curled wide from the edge of the box, so when the opening goal arrived, there was no surprise the Brazilian was involved. Cunha got in down the right and whipped in a low cross which Jarrad Branthwaite almost turned past Pickford, but once the goalkeeper did well to avoid the own goal, Kilman was on hand to stab home the loose ball. The captain produced a Lemina shirt in tribute to the midfielder. Chants of Wolves’ number five rang out from all sides of Molineux.

Everton’s response almost came through Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who flashed a shot across goal, but it was Wolves the more impressive throughout. Pablo Sarabia was inches away from turning in Nelson Semedo’s cross, while Jose Sa impressively denied Calvert-Lewin, before the flag went up for offside anyway.

Half-time | Wolves 1-0 Everton

Wolves were good value for their lead at the break, the only thing missed was more goals, and within 15 minutes of the second period, they put that right. When Tommy Doyle switched the play to Sarabia, Everton were stretched, and Hwang was played in down the right and was unselfish to fire across goal to give Cunha the simplest of tasks of tapping home.

The creator nearly turned scorer soon after as Hwang popped up on the left and, after turning past James Tarkowski, had a stringing drive tipped on to the post by Pickford. Indirectly from the resulting corner however, Wolves had their third, as Cunha’s cross was turned in at the near post by Dawson.

The hosts were playing some of their best football of the season and Joao Gomes and Hwang exchanged passed with each other around the Everton defence, before the Brazilian shot at Pickford. The England goalkeeper then excelled to produce a fine one-handed save to keep Hwang at bay, after another brilliant ball from Cunha.

The Toffees momentarily threatened when Dwight McNeil smashed a long-distance drive against the upright, but then Wolves’ dominance continued. Hwang finally thought he’d bagged himself before departing for the Asia Trophy, but his curling strike was ruled out for offside.

Wolves’ comfortable position in the contest allowed an ideal return for Pedro Neto, who replaced Cunha for his first appearance in two months. And the wide man almost marked it with a trademark goal, as he showed Tarkowski and blazed over, while he Neto also had the ball in the net, but Hwang was offside in the build-up.

It mattered not, however, as Wolves won for the final time in 2023, and they did it in style.

Full-time | Wolves 3-0 Everton

Wolves | Sa, Semedo (Doherty 85), Kilman, Dawson, Toti, Ait-Nouri (H Bueno 73), Gomes (Traore 85), Doyle, Sarabia (Bellegarde 80), Hwang, Cunha (Neto 80).

Unused subs | Bentley, S Bueno, Hodge, Kalajdzic.

Everton | Pickford, Patterson (Coleman 63), Tarkowski, Keane (Gomes 63), Branthwaite, Mykolenko, Onana, Garner, Harrison, McNeil (Danjuma 74), Calvert-Lewin (Beto 74).

Unused subs | Virginia, Godfrey, Chermiti, Hunt, Dobbin.