Wolves beat playoff hopefuls’s Derby, 2-0, in a professional performance on a rainy night at Molineux to bring Wolves within three points of promotion to the Premier League. Goals from Diogo Jota and Ruven Neves confirmed victory for the home side, with Neves’ wonder-strike rightly taking all the headlines.
Nuno Espirito Santo made one change to the side that beat Cardiff in such emotional fashion last Friday evening, bringing in Diogo Jota for Leo Bonatini who was dropped to the bench with Benik Afobe leading the line for Wolves.
Derby named two ex-wolves loanee Tom Huddlestone and Andrei Weimann, having won their last two games. Derby were looking to cement a play-off place after dropping down the table with an eight game slump.
In British football centre halves have a reputation for brute force, tough tacking and aerial dominance. Wily Boly fits all of these characteristics but in the opening goal showed a vision, and passing ability that a vintage Andrea Pirlo would have been proud of.
Wolves took the lead in the sixth minute with Jota’s sixteenth goal of the campaign making him Wolves top scorer. Wily Boly lofted a perfect pass to find a diagonal run from Diogo Jota, who beat Derby’s offside trap, to cooly finish hooking the ball over Scott Carson.
Derby had set up to counterattack, which was evidence from the beginning of the game, but had very few chances on goal except for a lofted shot early on. This was a dominant performance that highlighted the gulf in class even between two of the top six teams in the league.
Those who were at Molineux on Wednesday 11th April will remember this game for a long time to come, not because of a last minute goal, or because promotion was won or a wonderful team performance but for twenty seconds of elegant grace from Ruben Neves.
Images that have been doing the rounds on Twitter, from behind the goal, show a sea of faces in the crowd all open mouthed and wide-eyed in shear amazement at what they had been witness to. This was the best goal that many had seen live in their life, myself included.
Neves is not capable of scoring poor goals, all six of his strikes this season have come from outside the box. In comparison however all his other goals were Bovril; this goal was the finest of aged wines. There is nothing this man cannot do with a football.
Neves was outside the penalty box as the ball drops to him from a corner, he chips the ball into the air, steps back and smashes the ball into the top corner giving Scott Carson in goal no chance.
Gary Rowett said after the game that he nearly applauded an opposition player for the first time, with Ruben Neves’ name been sung around the ground in a swell of excitement which quickly turned to amazement at what they had seen. No fan could think of anything else for the remainder of the game.
Wolves continued to dominate with Jota forcing a neat save from Carson late on in the game almost making it three but when Wolves score first they don’t loose. Wolves have only drawn three games and not lost any from scoring first this season.
The maths are simple now; Wolves need three points, one win to be promoted to the Premier League for the first time since 2012. Nuno has consistently said that he has not looked at the Championship table all season but after three o’clock on Sunday he might like what he sees.