Nuno Espirito Santo has revealed his pride at Wolves’ staying power after they beat Villa 2-1.
Well-worked goals in either half from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez before Trezeguet’s injury-time consolation saw Nuno’s side climb to eighth in the Premier League table going into the international break.
Wolves extended their unbeaten run in the top flight and Europa League to 10 matches while they are five unbeaten at Molineux and beat Villa at home in the Premier League for the first time.
Head coach Nuno was delighted at the response to their 24th game of the season – nine more than their opponents.
“The group – not only the players – but the staff deserve credit,” said Nuno. “It was the 24th game of the season and the way we finished – always on top and running – says a lot. I’m proud of the boys.”
Nuno was especially pleased with the first-half performance when Wolves created numerous chances, with Matt Doherty hitting the bar, Jimenez twice going close and Doherty having a penalty shout.
“The most important was the performance,” said Nuno. “We dominated – the first half was very good play. We played really, really well.
“We achieved a goal late, but we had a lot of chances, breaking on the counter, so we had clear moments where we could harm Villa.
“In the second half Villa took more control of the game and created some problems, so we had to adjust.
“But we had the better chances, it was case of waiting for the moment to really be clinical and achieve that second goal that allows you to manage better the game late.
“I have to see their goal, I don’t know what really happened, so if there was one thing bad, that was the moment.”
Neves’s goal was a real training ground move. With everyone expecting a cross into the box from out wide, Joao Moutinho instead squared the ball to the unmarked midfielder, who steered the ball into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the D.
“It was very nice. Every time the ball goes inside (the net), I’m very happy,” said the boss.
“We work on a lot of things, but the credit is for the players that execute it – the pass, the precision, it was a good moment.”
Wolves had 17 efforts on goal – making it 62 in the last three games and only four goals scored – and if there was one criticism from Nuno, it was the need to be more clinical.
“If we produce so many moments of that, we have to be clinical because that’s what defines a moment of the game and puts the game to bed,” he admitted.
“It’s not about scoring more, it’s finishing the action in the right moments. OK, the goalkeeper can save it, but we have to finish the actions in that moment we break, the last pass, to allow you to have the final touch and be clinical.
“You get worried, but the team stuck to the shape, to the task. The second goal is big for Villa to react.”
Villa tweaked their formation to try to get back into the game, but although Wesley blazed over and Leander Dendoncker blocked two efforts, there was little to trouble goalkeeper Rui Patricio.
“They changed – they adjusted to a 4-4-2, and created a lot of problems, the full-backs didn’t allow us to press so high,” said Nuno.
“They kept the shape and created problems, and the players can unbalance you, but every time we recovered, we had a chance to break.”
Wolves players now head off to play for their countries before they return to face AFC Bournemouth away on November 23.
Nuno is keeping his fingers crossed they all come back fit. Adama Traore has withdrawn from his first call-up with Spain after picking up a slight knock on Sunday.
“I have a lot of players with their national teams,” said the boss. “I congratulate them – I’m very happy that they go to national team, but I’m very worried they come back healthy.
“We are ready. We’re going to stay here but a lot of players go. We work with who stays, the young boys, the back-ups of the Under-23s, there’s a lot of work to be done.”