Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Nuno Espirito Santo saw his side take all three points at the Molineux against Leeds United, as winger Adama Traore struck the woodwork before the rebounding ball hit the back of goalkeeper Illan Meslier and went in the back of the net. Patrick Bamford also had the ball in the back of the net, but his strike was ruled out by VAR for a close offside call.
Nuno saw his side produce a very solid performance, both offensively and at the back, which will be very pleasing for him to see. Wolves look to have turned a corner now in this season, as they have picked up 10 points from the possible 12 that were available in the last four games.
When speaking about the game and the result, Wolves boss Nuno said the following:
On going unbeaten in four games.
Since the disappointing loss to Crystal Palace at the end of January, Wolves have gone unbeaten in four matches in the league, having won three out of the four games.
“It was a very tight game and a very intense game. Both teams were very active, and you just have to see the actions of the two goalkeepers to see how the game was.
“It was a tough game. I would not be fair by saying Leeds didn't deserve something from the game, but small details make a game. I’m very pleased by the approach that we had to the game, the attitude of the players, because it’s very difficult to play against Leeds and we gave a good fight."
Nuno was also full of praise for his sides performance against a very good Leeds side.
“What I saw during the game was that both teams were very even and competitive. The players did good actions, very intense, and that’s the only approach that we can have against a team like Leeds. They are so good in the way they do things, but the boys competed very well, aggressive, recovering the balls, pressing, and a bit of talent made the difference.”
On his approach against Leeds United
Leeds United, who are led by Marcelo Bielsa, can be a very strong side on their day and cause defences lots of trouble. However, Wolves controlled the game nicely and didn't allow Leeds to play their football.
“Every game and every team in the Premier League has their own details. But what Leeds have is unique and challenges all the managers in the league. But in the end, I truly believe that in all the games we have to challenge ourselves because something new is going to happen and you have to face it.
“They have a unique approach to the game, but sometimes leads you to the same intensity in the duels and the boys did well. That’s the game of football, it’s your idea against your opponent’s idea and for some moments we were stronger, but Leeds also had chances and created real problems.
“We know how many goals Leeds have scored this season, and it required hard work in our defensive aspects, but that starts in the attack, with a press, not allowing many spaces, but even then, Leeds created us immense problems and good chances.
On being lucky for the goal.
Adama Traore unleashed a thunderbolt which struck the woodwork before the ball came back and bounced off the back of Meslier to give Wolves the lead.
It went down as an own goal, and it did come with a slice of luck, but Wolves boss Nuno believes that his side deserved that luck.
“Players like Adama [Traore] and Pedro [Neto], when they are allowed to have the ball and start running, they are really dangerous. It was a beautiful strike. Of course, there’s luck in the moment, but it’s a beautiful strike of Adama.
“It is a hard moment for the goalkeeper, but he did very well, he made a fantastic save in the first-half. Both goalkeepers were really active in the game, so that shows the intensity of the match.
“It’s a beautiful strike, and of course there’s luck when the ball came back off the crossbar, but we have to deserve that luck and the strike of Adama is beautiful. He’s a unique player and we expect great things from him.
“Melier and Rui Patricio were very active today, with some very good actions in the first-half and the second-half, so I'm looking at a game when the goalkeeper has so many actions, it means it's a very active and competitive game.”
On Leeds' threat from set pieces.
Despite Wolves winning the match, Leeds United were a threat through the like of Liam Cooper and other tall players in the Wolves box. There was numerous occasions where the host's defending wasn't good enough in the box, which allowed Leeds' set pieces to become their main threat.
The Wanderers boss said this about the vulnerability from set pieces:
“That’s one detail inside of the plan that didn’t work out. We had problems on that and is something we have to improve and something to work on.
“We still have a lot of details that we still have to improve. Like today, with set-pieces, so it was not a perfect performance.
“We allowed too many first contacts and we must look at that, but Rui did his job and he kept his clean sheet. That's always good for us as a team.”
On improving recent performances.
Wolves look to have turned a corner this season, as we are starting to see some good, consistent performances from them, which seemed to be missing in the first half of the season.
The Portuguese manager was very pleased with the performance in the second half against Southampton last time out and once again, was pleased with what he again today.
“I’m very pleased with the way we approach and the way that we realised that we are not the best of our performances and we have to chase. It’s all about the approach that we have and the way you commit to prepare the game, and then challenge yourself during the competition.
“We've been working hard in chasing better performances, and the players are very committed. We find ourselves in a good moment, but now, the expectations and responsibilities are high, so we must keep these high standards.
“The approach that we have during these tough moments; always believing, always committing, you can't say anything about the attitude of the players.
“Sometimes things don’t work out, but we be comprehensive and understand the moment, but we chase the highest standards that we have, so let’s keep on chasing and working hard.”
Wolves travel to Newcastle next week, and once again Nuno will be hoping for another good performance from his side. If the midlands side can win that game, then they will be in very good stead going into the tough month of March.