Wolves eased past a hapless Crystal Palace side in the Premier League to maintain hopes of playing Europa League football next season.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side move back above Tottenham into sixth place and victory at Chelsea in their final league game on Sunday will guarantee a better finish than last season.
Daniel Podence scored his first goal for Wolves since joining from Olympiakos in January by nodding in from close range to finish off a lovely team move and Jonny Otto added a second with a quick spin and shot.
Palace barely threatened with Andros Townsend’s long-range free-kick and Wilfried Zaha’s weak shot both comfortable for goalkeeper Rui Patricio to deal with.
Roy Hodgson’s side have tailed off badly since the restart and cannot finish higher than 13th place.
Wolves’ long season goes on
Wolves finished seventh last term and were the first Premier League team to begin the 2019-20 campaign when they competed in the Europa League qualifiers 360 days ago. Against Palace, they were playing their 56th game of the campaign.
The long season looked to be taking its toll, having taken just four points from their previous four games, but victory gave them their highest points tally in the Premier League and keeps their Europa League fate in their own hands going into the last game.
That competition is one they still remain in this season, which will prolong their campaign into August when they face Olympiakos in the second leg of their last-16 tie, and going all the way to lifting the trophy will upgrade their achievement to a place in the Champions League.
Wolves are a well drilled side and kept Palace at bay before a moment of brilliance from midfielder Joao Moutinho saw them open the scoring.
The Portugal international chipped a perfectly weighted pass into the path of the on-running Matt Doherty, who pulled a pass back for Podence to nod in an easy finish.
They grabbed a second on 68 minutes courtesy of Jonny’s first goal at Molineux since September 2018, receiving a lay-off from Raul Jimenez before spinning expertly and curling home a smart finish.
Adama Traore worked tirelessly down the right flank and could have scored but saw a low drive at the near post kept out by Vicente Guaita.
Having scored 51 goals this season, Wolves go into the last game of the season as the only team without an English player finding the net for them.
Palace’s woeful form has now seen them lose their last seven games in the league and the Eagles seem like a team already looking towards next season.
It is just as well then that Hodgson’s side had won four straight games, all with clean sheets, either side of the restart to put them in a safe place in the table, away from a relegation fight.
Only bottom side Norwich have scored fewer than Palace’s 30 goals this season, which is three fewer than their lowest tally in the top flight.
And they never really looked like finding the net against Wolves.
Jeffrey Schlupp broke clear and dragged a shot wide early on, while Zaha could not come up with any magic on his 200th Premier League appearance for the Eagles.
Man of the match – Adama Traore (Wolves)
Dangerous defender Doherty – the stats
- Wolves have picked up 59 points in the Premier League this season, surpassing their total for last term (57); assuming three points for a win, this is their best return in a top-flight campaign since 1979-80 (66 points when adjusted to 3/win).
- Crystal Palace have lost seven league games in succession, failing to score in six of those defeats. They have earned just three points since the Premier League resumed in June (P8 W1 D0 L7); only bottom-placed Norwich City (none) have fewer in this time.
- Wolves have won back-to-back home league games for the first time this season having last done so in May 2019; they have done so without conceding in both victories for the first time since September 2018.
- Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has lost seven consecutive league games for the first time in his managerial career in England.
- Wolves have now had 12 different goalscorers in this season’s Premier League without any being English; only Arsenal (13 in 2006-07) have had more in a campaign in the competition without having an English scorer (excluding own goals).
- Daniel Podence became the seventh different Portuguese player to score a Premier League goal for Wolves, more than any other side.
- Jonny Otto scored what was only his third Premier League goal, and his second at Molineux for Wolves (also September 2018 against Southampton).
- Among defenders for Premier League clubs since the start of last season, only Trent Alexander-Arnold (33) has been directly involved in more goals in all competitions than Wolves’ Matt Doherty (27 – 15 goals, 12 assists).