Wolves 1 Fulham 0
Leander Dendoncker kept Wolves’ European dream alive with the only goal as they signed off at Molineux with a far more comfortable win than the scoreline suggests
The Belgium international volleyed home from close range in the 75th minute to settle a one-sided contest against the relegated Cottagers, who suffered their 25th defeat of the season. Wolves finished their home campaign unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions since January, including nine wins.
Wolves now need favours from Manchester City to return to Europe for the first time in 39 years. They need City to avoid defeat to Leicester on Monday night to finish seventh then for City to beat Watford in the FA Cup final to gain the final Europa League spot.
The attendance of 30,456 means Wolves have been watched by crowds of 30,000 plus in every home League game for the first time since 1949-50.
Unchanged Wolves, who hit the woodwork through Matt Doherty and Diogo Jota, dominated throughout. But on a day when midfielder Joao Moutinho as imperious, Wolves couldn’t find the final touch to score the goals their territorial advantage and chances deserved for long spells.
No one was more involved than Jota. The in-form forward had four chances but fired agonisingly wide three times before hitting the bar late on.
The diminutive Portuguese attacker was heavily involved from the off, twice tumbling in the box optimistically trying to win penalties only for referee Jonathan Moss to wave play on.
Jota then fired narrowly wide with a shot on the run after a lovely move started with a defence-splitting pass from Joao Moutinho followed by a backheel from Raul Jimenez.
Jota took aim again, this time with his left foot, but the outcome was the same as he fired inches off target, after Moutinho won the ball back off Maxime Le Marchand in the Fulham D.
The former Atletico Madrid man was off target for a third time just after the half hour, before Willy Boly missed the first of three headed chances when he nodded a Moutinho free kick wide.
Dendoncker was a foot over with a sweeping drive on the run from 30 yards.
But they had to be alert at the other end five minutes before the break after a fierce shot from wing back Joe Bryan which was tipped wide by Rui Patricio.
The second half followed a similar pattern as Wolves continued to probe away but struggling to find that vital breakthrough.
Jota was again inches away with an angled left-foot drive that Jimenez almost got on the end of.
But Fulham could have snatched a shock lead on the counter, only for Aleksandar Mitrovic to waste a glorious chance 12 yards out when he scooped the ball well over from Ryan Sessegnon’s quick pass.
Normal service was resumed and just after the hour, Matt Doherty headed against goalkeeper Sergio Rico’s shins then the ball hit the post after Moutinho crossed. Seconds later, Jimenez glanced wide from the resulting corner swung in by Moutinho.
But again Fulham threatened on the break and Tom Cairney floated a curling shot over after a great move that started with a ball over the top for Sessegnon on their right.
Doherty had the ball in the net in the 71st minute when he thundered home first time after a shot from Jonny rebounded to him after it was blocked. But the flag had gone up for offside, which replays showed to be correct.
The breakthrough finally came 15 minutes from time. Moutinho, who had another superb game, fed Doherty to his right on the overlap and the Ireland international whipped in a first-time cross which Dendoncker met with a cushioned, sidefoot volley to fly in at the near post.
Wolves weren’t done and Jota smashed a fierce effort against the bar on the half volley from inside the box on the left, Rico somehow getting a fingertip to the ball.
The forward fired over from another opening after picking up a loose ball on the halfway line before running at the defence.
There was still time for Ryan Babel to lash a shot on the turn that Patricio tipped on to the post and away.
Wolves should have been well ahead by then but at least the right result prevailed and they signed off their home campaign in style.
Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio (Norris 90+3); Bennett, Coady, Boly (Kilman 90+3); Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny (Vinagre 90+3); Jimenez, Jota.
Subs: Cavaleiro, Costa, Gibbs-White, Traore.
Fulham (3-4-2-1): Rico; Christie, Le Marchand, Ream; R Sessegnon (Ayite 82), Zambo (Elliott 88), Chambers, Bryan; Cairney, Babel; Mitrovic.
Subs: Fabri (gk), Kebano, Nordtveit, Mawson, S Sessegnon.
Referee: J Moss.