Southampton 3 Wolves 1
Wolves’ recent struggles on the road continued as they were punished by Southampton for failing to take their chances.
Nathan Redmond’s brace sandwiched Willy Boly’s equaliser and former Albion striker Shane Long poured salt into Wolves’ wounds with Saints’ third late on.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side are now winless in their last five Premier League trips as they missed the chance to regain seventh spot after Leicester tripped up against Newcastle last night to stay ahead on goals scored.
After losing back-to-back league games on the road for the first time this season, Wolves will welcome the chance of a change of scenery in Marbella for a few days’ warm weather training before arriving back on Thursday.
Wolves have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 13 Premier League away games. Only Arsenal with 15 are currently on a longer such run this season.
Nuno made just one change to the side beaten 3-2 by Watford after extra-time in the FA Cup semi-final, as Rui Patricio replaced John Ruddy in goal.
But, just like at Burnley in their previous away game, they conceded quickly. This time the opener came after just 94 seconds and Redmond’s first goal was Southampton’s quickest in a Premier League game since December 2016.
Josh Sims, making his first Premier League start this season, squared to Redmond, who fired high past Patricio at his near post.
Wolves’ response was swift however and a fierce drive from midfielder Ruben Neves only failed to find the target after it was deflected away, before Leander Dendoncker headed wide from Joao Moutinho’s free-kick.
The visitors continued to press for an equaliser and, with their strikers looking lively, threatened when Raul Jimenez had Angus Gunn scrambling to save his low drive.
Wolves deservedly got their way back into the game in the 28th minute, when Boly powered in a header from Moutinho’s corner for his fourth goal of the season.
But unfortunately for Nuno’s side, their lifeline lasted just 118 seconds before Redmond restored Southampton’s lead.
Recalled striker Danny Ings put Redmond through and the former Birmingham City winger clipped the ball over Patricio for his seventh goal of the season, and all since the arrival of new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl in December.
Wolves could have been 3-1 down as Sims should have made them pay only to curl a shot off target, Ings again the architect.
But Wolves could have levelled again as chances came at both ends with Neves firing wide before half-time.
Nuno’s side continued to probe for a second goal following the resumption, but they were let down by their finishing as Diogo Jota lashed over the bar and Jonny Otto saw his effort blocked.
The head coach decided to ring a change on the hour as Adama Traore replaced Matt Doherty at right wing back.
Jimenez again failed to make a chance count as he seized on a mix-up between two defenders only to fire powerfully well off target.
Substitute Long punished Wolves, stabbing the ball through Patricio’ legs after Maya Yoshida’s overhead kick dropped for him when the visitors failed to clear a corner. Traore had played the former Baggies striker onside after not pushing out quickly enough.
That seemed to knock the stuffing out of Wolves, and they were indebted to Patricio for not conceding a fourth goal after the Portugal number one spread himself brilliantly to deny Jannik Vestergaard from close in.
Despite a late introduction for Helder Costa, there was no way back for Wolves.
They will be forced to lick their wounds while Southampton all but secured their Premier League safety, moving eight points clear of 18th-placed Cardiff with five games left.
Southampton: Gunn, Valery (Stephens 84), Bednarek, Yoshida, Vestergaard, Bertrand, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Sims (Romeu 61), Redmond, Ings (Long 61).
Subs not used: McCarthy (gk), Targett, Armstrong, Austin.
Wolves: Patricio; Saiss, Coady, Boly; Doherty (Traore 60), Neves (Gibbs-White 69), Dendoncker, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota (Costa 87).
Subs not used: Ruddy (gk), Bennett, Vinagre, Cavaleiro.
Booked: Saiss, Moutinho, Jimenez.
Referee: Jonathan Moss.