Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Crystal Palace: Spectacular double rounds off an unspectacular game
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 20: Daniel Podence of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates with teammate Matt Doherty of Wolverhampton Wanderers after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace at Molineux on July 20, 2020 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It certainly wasn't a game of thrills and spills, but Wolverhampton Wanderers took away a much needed 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace.

Despite the majority of the game being devoid of quality, wonderfully worked goals either side of half time were enough to earn the hosts three points.

Not only was it another victory, the win moves Wolves up to sixth and sets them in good stead to qualify for the Europa League for the second season running.

Story of the game

As expected, it was the hosts who dominated the opening exchanges. Neither side managed to control the tempo however, leaving very little opportunity to create chances going forward.

It was evident Wolves were back to full strength following the resting of players against Burnley just a few days ago.

For Palace, it was an evening that was set up to ask massive questions of full debutant Tyrick Mitchell.

No doubt for the first quarter of an hour of his Premier League career, the 20-year-old impressively controlled an infamously uncontrollable Adama Traore.

The Spaniard repeatedly attempted to make it to the byline and whip in a signature cross for the head of Raúl Jiménez. Mitchell on the other hand had other ideas, and didn't give the powerful forward as much as a sniff.

As the game progressed, it showed no signs of finding any form of rhythm. Especially when Mamadou Sakho went down indicating yet another injury.

The Frenchman hasn't exactly had the rub of the green since joining the Eagles, but there he was clutching at his hamstring on just his 11th Premier League start of the season.

It took 25 minutes for the visitors to create their first chance, it came courtesy of an uncharacteristic slip up from Willy Boly. Usually ever reliant, he misplaced a pass and gifted the ball to Wilfried Zaha.

From the halfway line, Zaha picked out Jeffrey Schlupp with a fizzed pass out wide. The Ghanaian did well to charge his way into the Wolves area, but his effort fired wide of the right hand post - much to the dismay of Roy Hodgson.

It didn't take long for Wolves to make another mistake. This time it was Ruben Neves' turn to give the ball away. His sloppy pass found Zaha once again, but once again nothing major comes from it.

I think when Hodgson shows the chances back in training tomorrow, the Palace players will be extremely disappointed that they haven't capitalised on those opportunities.

In a half that was bereft of class, Podence went for the spectacular in a very unspectacular opening half an hour.

The youngster shaped himself to connect with Traore’s floated cross with an overhead kick. Unfortunately, his effort was misfired into the Stan Cullis stand.

Shortly after, Andros Townsend's speculative strike gave Palace their first shot on target. It was only a 40-yard free kick that showed very minimal threat to Rui Patricio's goal, and honestly it summed up the lack of action that had preceded it.

Finally, Wolves found some quality before half time.

Matt Doherty started a wonderful move with a pass inside to João Moutinho. Although the Portuguese maestro looked as if he were going to unleash an effort of his own, he lofted the ball back into the inverted run that Doherty had made.

The Irishman plucked the ball from the air and did exactly what he does best, and put the ball on a plate for Podence's first Premier League goal.

It would be hard to argue that Palace were keen to let the game flow in the second half.

Zaha looked as if he was auditioning for Dancing on Ice when they came out after the break. Following at least three slips, he shouted towards the bench to get a change in boots.

Eight minutes, and four pairs of boots later, the saga appeared to come to an end. 

In an attempt to capitalise on the farce on the sidelines, Traore powered through Palace’s defence and fired a strike straight at Guaita. Podence hit the follow up, but it ricocheted away for a corner.

Immediately after the drinks break, Wolves were able to muster up another ounce of quality - this time it oozed from Adama. 

Traore used his pace and power to squeeze himself between McArthur and Mitchell. He picked out Jimenez and although the Mexican sliced his control, the ball fell to the feet of Jonny Otto.

For a full back, he expertly swivelled and stuck the ball directly into the bottom right corner and doubled the hosts lead.

Disappointingly, what was to follow for the final 25 minutes was a string of consecutive fouls. The imbalanced tempo of the first half returned and there was very little to write home about.

Then again, it was nothing short of a professional, Nuno Espirito Santo performance.

European elation in the Midlands

It is sometimes hard to believe that Nuno has only been in charge of Wolves for three years.

In that time, they have stormed the EFL Championship and in their first season back in the big time, qualified for Europe. It doesn't end there either.

Wolves could match last season's achievements and even finish level on points with either of Manchester United or Leicester City.

The Wanderers have already surpassed last year's points total and it is clear to see that this journey isn't coming to an end any time soon.

Eagles spiralling

Before lockdown, Hodgson had done a commendable job at Palace.

The London side were sat comfortably in ninth and were looking set to have had a successful season.

Since football has returned however, they have beaten A.F.C Bournemouth and then lost the following seven fixtures.

In just two months they have fallen all the way down to 14th, rendering it yet another disappointing campaign.

Ninth would have been Palace's best ever Premier League finish. Instead the Eagles have taken yet another step backwards.

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