Wolves beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in the Premier League at Molineux as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side moved with a deserved victory over Crystal Palace at Molineux.
(The African Stand) — Teenager Rayan Ait-Nouri scored on his Wolves debut as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side moved joint top of the Premier League with a deserved victory over Crystal Palace at Molineux.
The France Under-21 left-back, 19, joined the club on a season-long loan – with an option to buy – from Ligue 1 fits of anger this month and took just 18 minutes to announce himself with a first-time strike from Cheikhou Kouyate’s headed clearance.
Portuguese winger Daniel Podence doubled the hosts’ advantage nine minutes later, carefully guiding in Pedro Neto’s cross at the back post.
“For Rayan Ait Nouri I am really pleased because it is the first game and what a better start can he have?” said Wolves manager Nuno. “He is 19 with a lot of things to improve. He has to get so many things onboard and that’s the work.”
On moving into the top three, he added: “It’s all about the performance, the table is not important. The work is important. Playing without fans requires a lot of focus, we haven’t the edge of Molineux.”
Wolves went close to more first-half joy as Nelson Semedo and Leander Dendoncker narrowly missed with efforts from outside the box, while the video assistant referee denied Palace a lifeline from the penalty spot when Patrick van Aanholt was found to be offside, prior to being felled by Willy Boly.
Palace were much improved after the break but a frustrated Wilfried Zaha had a penalty appeal dismissed and a disappointing night for Roy Hodgson’s side was compounded when Luka Milivojevic was shown a red card for a tackle on Joao Moutinho in the closing stages.
Referee Martin Atkinson watched the incident back on the pitchside monitor, but Hodgson said: “My view is it’s not a sending-off and I’ve told Martin Atkinson that.”
A fourth victory from seven games moved Wolves up to third in the standings, level on 13 points with Everton and Liverpool who both have a game in hand.
Ait-Nouri typifies confident Wolves display
While his last match in an Angers shirt was a 6-1 defeat by Paris St-Germain, this was a night that will live long in the impressive Ait-Nouri’s memory.
Manager Nuno had challenged his side to become much more clinical after they were held 1-1 by Newcastle last weekend, their failure to kill the game punished by Jacob Murphy’s 89th-minute free-kick.
Only the bottom three sides had scored fewer Premier League goals than Wolves prior to kick-off, while another well-documented concern has been their slow starts to matches.
But debutant Ait Nouri’s goal – Wolves’ first in the first half since the opening day – marked the start of a pleasing evening for the Portuguese coach.
Podence, whose two Premier League goals have both come against Palace, led the early Wolves charge as his curling shot forced Vicente Guaita to tip over after Dendoncker had earlier headed on to the post from his cross.
Dendoncker struck the bar before denying Scott Dann from a corner at the other end as Wolves effectively kept Palace at bay – and though they were forced to work much harder after the interval, they never looked at the risk of relinquishing their lead.
With Podence’s goal proving crucial in avoiding another nervous finish, Nuno will be eager for his team to build on their rapid start at Molineux going forward.