Match report: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Paul Doyle went to Villa Park, slathered his extremities with sanitiser and and covered his beard with a face-mask to bring you this report on a very entertaining game of football. Read on …
Nuno speaks: “I think we performed well in terms of organisation in terms of approaching the game,” he tells BT Sport. “But we didn’t quite settle down very well. Then we started controlling better and creating chances. They’re a good team with very talented players. Today was about controlling the game, because Villa had four midfielders. We had to try to open them up and get possession in wide areas. I’m very happy with Leander because he’s a very hard worker.”
Leander Dendoncker speaks: “Very good,” he tells BT Sport. “I just think we played a good game again today. We controlled the game but the last 10 minutes was quite hard because they were losing and trying very hard to score. We kept it tight and didn’t give away a lot. We’ve done that for the past three games which is the merit of the whole team. It’s very nice.”
On Adama Traore’s contribution off the bench: “I think everyone knows he can do that, even from the middle of the pitch,” he says. “I got a good assist from Jonny and I just shot.”
On possibly qualifying for the Champions League: “It’s good to dream and from now on it’s just game by game. We have to focus on every game.”
Full-time: Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeep! Leander Dendoncker’s second-half strike wins the points for Wolves, who win their third game in a row to go within two points of Chelsea. For Villa, it’s a nightmare scenario – they remain in 19th place with games against Liverpool and Manchester United looming large. They played reasonably well today but look completely toothless up front.
90+4 min: Now Traore concedes another free-kick, with a little kick at Mings deep in the Villa half. Moments later he commits another foul, giving Villa a free-kick just inside their own half. Nyland’s delivery towards the Wolves penalty area is atrocious.
90+3 min: Traore loses the ball to Douglas Luiz, allowing Villa to break up the pitch. They lose position again, when Luiz commits a foul.
90+2 min: We’re two minutes into five of added time. Wolves have the ball and are not inclined to give it away. They’re spraying passes around between themselves, leaving Villa’s exhausted, dispirited players chasing shadows.
90 min: Into the final minute of normal time we go, with Villa still in need of an equaliser. Wolves win a free-kick wide on the left for a foul on Neto by Kortney Hause. They play the ball all the way back to their own goalkeepe in the interests of running down the clock.
89 min: Villa keep plugging away but Jonny puts the ball out of play for a throw-in as Grealish attempts to skip past him. He’s had a very quiet second half, has young Jack.
88 min: Traore appears to amble jauntily down the right touchline, but still leaves Taylor and El Ghazi in his dust. His cross is poor, however. Villa clear their lines.
86 min: Mings tries to play a low ball to the feet of Samatta on the edge of the Wolves penalty area. It’s blocked.
85 min: Wolves substitution: Raul Jiminez, provider of the assist for Leander Dendoncker’s goal, makes way for Pedro Neto.
84 min: Jack Grealish sends a wonderful cross towards the far post from the touchline. It drops between Trezeguet and Samatta, neither of whom can quite reach it, before bouncing out of play.
82 min: Villa win a free-kick about 35 yards from the Wolves goal. McGinn floats the ball towards the far post, where Trezeguet, who has just come on, pokes it wide. Villa double-substitution: Anwar El Ghazi and Trezeguet on for Keinan Davis and Marvelous Nakamba.
79 min: Villa trail but are far from out of this game although another Wolves goal would finish them off. The visitors go forward down the right, trying to get Traore on the ball. With three players surrounding him, he picks out Dendoncker in the penalty area. His shot is blocked by Tyrone Mings.
Villa are terrified of Traore and with good reason. He’s a terrific player whose game has improved immeaurably in the past 12 months. He’s so much more thoughtful and intelligent now, where once he resembled an out-of-control driverless speedboat.
77 min: Mbwana Samatta heads the ball high over the Wolves goal from about 12 yards out, leaping under pressure to connect with a cross from the right.
76 min: Good tackle by Leander Dendoncker just inside his own penalty area. He sticks out a leg with perfect timing to block the ball and stop Grealish making one of his shimmying runs towards goal.
74 min: Villa win a free-kick wide on the left. The ball’s floated towards the far post, where Kortney Hause heads it high and wide. The delivery was a mite too high for him and he might have been better served trying to nod it across the face of goal.
74 min: With his back to goal, Grealish flicks the ball in the air after receiving a low pass form Taylor. It sits up beautifully for him and he spins to shoot on the turn. His effort from the edge of the penalty area is blocked.
72 min: Jack Grealish loses the ball in the centre-circle, Ruben Neves committing the mugging but selling Traore short with a poor pass.
71 min: Villa play the ball long down the left channel, where Willy Boly leaps to head the ball out for a throw-in.
69 min: Traore wins a free-kick in the centre-circle after being fouled by Douglas Luiz as he tried to dart away from the Villa man.
69 min: There’s another break for drinks and managerial counsel.
67 min: The ball’s sent into the mixer, where it hits Willy Boly’s knee and bounces into the path of Leander Dendoncker. He’s somewhat caught by surprise and tries to bundle the ball home at the far post, only to put it wide. It wasn’t an easy chance but it was a chance nonetheless.
66 min: Traore gets the ball on the right touchline, accelerates past Makamba with alarming ease and gets to the byline. Under pressure from Neil Taylor, he looks up and forces a corner.
64 min: Traore makes an immediate impact, playing his part in a lightning fast Wolves counter-attack. He picked up the ball from Jonny in midfield, before playing it wide to Jiminez, whose cross into the box was delightful. He picked out Jonny with his back to goal, who teed it up for Dendoncker. He still had plenty of work to do to make room for a shot and pull the trigger. That’s a fine goal and Villa find themselves in all sorts of bother.
GOAL! Aston Villa 0-1 Wolves (Dendoncker 62)
Jimenez takes a ball from Traore on the left wing and curls an exquisite pass into the area, Within seconds it’s nestling in the bottom corner after Dendoncker, teed up by Jonny, made room for a shot and slotted home with a low drive.
60 min: Villa double-substitution: Ahmed “Elmo” Elmohamady and John McGinn on for Conor Hourihane and Ezri Konsa. Wolves substitution: Adama Traore on for Diogo Jota.
59 min: Aston Villa break on the counter, with Douglas Luiz spreading the ball right and wide to Jack Grealish. His progress is interrupted and Wolves manage to get their shape back.
57 min: Tyrone Mings attracts the attention of his Villa team-mate Neil Taylor and points to the touchline, where Adama Traore is preparing to come on. #prayforneil
56 min: Conor Hourihane curls a cross into the Wolves penalty area from the right wing. It’s too close to Rui Patricio and the goalkeeper gathers comfortably.
54 min: Samatta goes to ground on the edge of the Wolves penalty area, left side. There’s a VAR check to see if he was shoved by – I think – Willy Boly who was marking him tightly but no free-kick or penalty is forthcoming.
52 min: Grealish crosses the ball to the far post, where alongside the upright, Mbwana Samatta hooks it up in the air to prevent it going out of play. Wolves clear.
50 min: Raul Jiminez tries to play Leander Dendoncker in behind down the inside right flank, but Kortney Hause is quickly across to wallop the ball into the stand.
49 min: Willy Boly handles the ball, giving Villa a free-kick about 40 yards from his own goal. Hourihane sends the ball towards the far post, aiming for Mings. Rui Patricio darts off his line to bat the ball clear. It’s not a particularly clean contact but it’ll do. Good goalkeeping.
47 min: Moutinho curls a dangerous ball into the Villa penalty area. Neil Taylor, mindful that Raul Jimenez might be lurking behind him, shapes to head the ball out for a corner but pulls away at the last minute under loud instructions from his goalkeeper. Jiminez isn’t there and the ball sails wide.
Second half: Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves
46 min: Play resumes, with Wolves kicking off. There don’t appear to be any changes of personnel on either side.
Half-time: Aston Villa 0-0 Wolves
The players go in for the break, with Wolves having enjoyed the past 20 minutes of superiority. Diogo Jota missed the pick of their opportunities, sparing Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland’s blushes after he had accidentally dropped the ball at his feet on the edge of the penalty area.
45+4 min: Dioga Jota gets in behind the Villa defence, performing miracles to keep the ball in play on the byline. He is unable to keep himself in play, however, falling over before he can get a cross in.
45+2 min: We’re halfway through added time at the end of the first half and the deadlock remains unbroken. It’s been an entertaining first half, despite the paucity of chances and goals. Villa dominated the opening 25 minutes, but have been largely on the back foot since the drinks break. A half of two quarters, if you will.
45 min: Villa win a free-kick wide on the left. Grealish and Hourihane try to play a two-v-one down the left rather than put it in the box. Hilarity ensues and they somehow manage to concede a throw-in. That’s poor – Villa are wasting an awful lot of opportunities to put dangerous balls into the Wolves box from set-pieces.
44 min: Jonny does brilliantly to block a Conor Hourihane curled effort that was heading goalwards.
41 min: Oh my! Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland shapes to throw the ball out and the ball slips out of his glove and lands three or four yards away at the feet of Jota. With all the time in the world to pick his spot and place the ball in the corner, he decides to smash the ball and sends it wide. That is a serious let-off for Villa.
40 min: Jiminez drags a low shot wide of the Villa goal after being teed up when Wolves had switched play from the left to the right wing. Wolves are dominating now after a poor opening 25 minutes and it looks like a matter of when, rather than if they will score. Remember, they still have Adama Traore on the bench, who will no doubt be introduced after an hour or so once Villa’s defence has been softened up and tired out.
39 min: Jonny crosses from the left, aiming for Jiminez but the delivery is too high. Doherty picks up the ball on the right, crosses the ball into the centre and Villa clear with Keinan Davis on the ball.
38 min: Moutinho spreads it left and wide to Jonny on the left flank and he plays a one-two with Diogo Jota trying to make room for a cross. Villa clear, for the time being.
37 min: Jack Grealish gets on the ball, cuts inside from the left and shoots through a thicket of legs from the edge of the Wolves penalty area. Rui Patricio gets down quickly to save.
35 min: Romain Saiss goes to ground holding his ankle after being fouled by Keinan Davis, who was attempting to block the Wolves man’s clearance.
34 min: Neil Taylor concedes a corner, defending well as Dendoncker tried to run on to a Conor Coady pass in a good shooting position in the Villa penalty area. Moutinho sends the ball into the mixer, where Tyrone Mings clears with a meaty header.
32 min: Free-kick for Villa, wide on the left from deep. The ball is floated towards the left side of the penalty area, where Kortney Hause is penalised for a foul on Matt Doherty. Villa have had several free-kicks in such areas and have wasted them with poor deliveries.
29 min: Jonny attempts to corss from the left corner flag towards Jota in the Villa penalty area. Konsa blocks his delivery. Wolves have looked considerably more sprightly since the refreshment break. I’ll have a pint of whatever they were drinking.
28 min: There’s another break in play as Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba receives treatment for an injury. It looks like he’s hurt his shoulder after a collision but he seems fine.
26 min: With Dendoncker and Jota waiting in the middle, Raul Jiminez gets a wonderful cross in from the right touchline. It looks on a plate for Jota to poke it home at the far post, but he can’t connect with the ball.
25 min: The players pause for drinks and some sideline coaching from their respective managers. Villa’s Dean Smith will be much happier than his opposite number.
25 min: Matt Doherty beats Taylor down the right and shoots from a ridiculously tight angle when there were options available to him in the penalty area. Wide.
24 min: Grealish and Konsa combine well down the right creating an overlap. The full-back sends a cross towards Douglas Costa in the penalty area, but his delivery is overhit.
22 min: Keinan Davis heads high over the bar under pressure from Conor Coady after getting on the end of a whipped cross from the right. Villa are having the better of the game so far but Wolves goalkeeper Rui Patricio has yet to be tested.