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Wolves dominate Villa in deserved win in front of record crowd

Wolves 2 (Neves 41, Jimenez 84) Villa 1 (Trezeguet 90+2)

Goals from Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez clinched a hugely deserved first Molineux win for Wolves over Aston Villa in the Premier League and saw them climb to eighth in the table.

Midfielder Neves atoned for his penalty miss in Thursday’s 1-0 win over Slovan Bratislava in the Europa League with a trademark superb effort from the edge of the D four minutes before the break.

Deadly Jimenez finally capped Wolves’ dominance when he swept home his 13th goal of the season six minutes from time, before Trezeguet’s angled shot squeezed just over the line in the second minute of time added on.

That gave the scoreline a flattering look in Villa’s favour after Wolves had hit the woodwork through Matt Doherty and Adama Traore.

Victory stretched Wolves’ unbeaten run in the Premier League and Europa League to 10 games and five unbeaten at Molineux, which witnessed its biggest crowd – 31,607 – since the ground was rebuilt.

It was the largest in the League since 34,693 watched a 1-0 defeat to Villa on February 28, 1981, and the biggest since 40,524 gathered for the FA Cup quarter-final replay against Middlesbrough on March 10, 1981.

Wolves created chances from start to finish in a rousing display, with Doherty and Jimenez each twice going close in the first half, when Doherty also had a penalty shout waved aside.

In the second half, former Villa winger Traore hit the angle of post and bar, Jimenez fired wide, Neves’s shot was deflected behind, Diogo Jota was denied and substitute Pedro Neto curled wide.

Villa were a distant second best in the first period when Wesley could only head straight at Rui Patricio while Douglas Luiz’s shot went the same way.

The visitors lost first-choice goalkeeper Tom Heaton to an unspecified injury in training on Saturday then saw deputy Jed Steer forced off after just eight minutes when he appeared to pull his calf trying to tip a Doherty cross over as it hit the crossbar.

Dean Smith’s side also lost left back Matt Targett before half-time with concussion.

Wolves threatened first when Conor Coady’s superb crossfield ball found Doherty lurking on the right and the wing back cut inside Targett before seeing his left foot drive deflected wide.

The resulting corner from the excellent Joao Moutinho was met by Romain Saiss but he was put off by Tyrone Mings and his header dropped wide.

Wolves continued to push forwards and the rampaging Doherty’s cross hit the bar with Steer at full stretch.

Steer hurt himself stretching for the Irishman’s attempt and eventually limped off with what appeared to be a calf injury, to be replaced by Orjan Nyland.

Wolves threatened again when Neves found Jonny Castro Otto with a crossfield ball and the wing back’s centre was seized on by Jimenez, who volleyed wide from 12 yards.

Moutinho hooked well over the bar after a tenacious run by Jonny before Jota ran at the visitors’ defence from deep and Jimenez intelligently veered off to the left to give him more space, allowing the Portuguese to find Traore to his right, but the pass was overhit and ran out of play.

All three players were involved again as Wolves put Villa under pressure again. Traore crossed with the outside of his right foot, and although Jimenez couldn’t make contact, Jota tried to squeeze in a header only to appear to be pulled back by right back Frederic Guilbert.

A poor pass out of defence allowed Wolves another chance when Jimenez quickly seized on the loose ball and ran at a retreating back line only to screw a left foot shot wide.

Nothing had been seen of Villa’s attack until the half hour mark when striker Wesley could only send a weak glancing header straight at Patricio.

Wolves returned to the attack and claimed a penalty when Targett appeared to drag down Doherty when he surged into the box, only for referee Anthony Taylor to wave aside the appeals.

The busy Jota was next to try his luck, bombing forward with the ball cutting in from the left only to run out of space as Nyland blocked him at the near post.

The breakthrough Wolves had been craving finally came in the 41st minute from a real training ground move.

Wolves won a free kick on the right, and with attention on the gold shirts in the box, Moutinho cleverly squared to the unmarked Neves, who had time to pick his spot with a sidefooted, curling effort into the far corner of the net from the edge of the D.

Saiss and Douglas Luiz ducked out of the way and the diving Nyland failed to prevent the ball flying in, despite getting his left hand to it.

A dazed-looking Targett was forced off for Neil Taylor in the third minute of time added on before half-time before Villa launched a rare threat with a long-range shot from Luiz which flew straight at Patricio.

Villa briefly threatened soon after the restart when John McGinn’s cross eluded several Wolves players before Taylor sliced wide.

But Wolves returned to the attack and Traore put his laces through an angled effort that smacked against the angle of post and bar.

Jimenez continued to sniff a goal and the Mexican screwed a left-footed curling effort wide after being picked out by Neves, whose drive was then headed behind by Tyrone Mings.

Villa had a rare chance to equalise on 55 when Anwar El Ghazi squared for Wesley, but the burly striker could only blaze well over.

Wolves returned to the attack and Jota saw a left-foot shot tipped over after cutting inside, before his deflected effort fell straight at Nyland.

Jimenez sliced over and wide after twisting and turning inside Mings and Taylor as Wolves probed for a second goal.

Villa appealed for a penalty in the 72nd minute when Jonny slid in on Trezeguet after El Ghazi ran into the box and the ball ran loose after a challenge from Doherty, but the Spaniard clearly got to the ball first.

This was the visitors’ best period of the game and McGinn’s angled shot was blocked by Leander Dendoncker, who then diverted Trezeguet’s centre away.

Wolves recovered from a spell of pressure on them to put the game beyond Villa in the 84th minute.

Jimenez swept home a low right-footed shot into the corner of the net from 15 yards after Traore broke on the counter down the right, shrugged off a challenge from Luiz and pulled the ball back.

Trezeguet halved the deficit out of the blue in the second minute of time added on with an angled drive that went over the line despite the efforts of Saiss to clear.

But Wolves missed the chance to restore their two-goal cushion when substitute Pedro Neto drove wide when he should have squared to the unmarked Patrick Cutrone.

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves (Bennett 85), Moutinho, Jonny; Traore, Jimenez (Cutrone 90), Jota (Neto 82).

Unused subs: Ruddy, Kilman, Vinagre, Perry.

Villa (4-3-3): Steer (Nyland 8); Guilbert, Konsa, Mings, Targett (Taylor 45); Nakamba (Lansbury 69), Luiz, McGinn; El Ghazi, Wesley, Trezeguet.

Unused subs: Elmohamady, Chester, Hourihane, Kodjia.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Attendance: 31,607.