Pedro Neto’s added-time winner stunned Chelsea as Wolves came from behind to win 2-1 at Molineux on Tuesday evening.
The Blues started the brighter of the sides and took the lead early in the second half through Olivier Giroud. The Frenchman latched on to Ben Chilwell’s near-post cross to poke under Rui Patricio, with goal-line technology confirming the 49th-minute strike creeped over.
But Wolves – who saw Fabio Silva’s strike ruled out for offside – rallied well and Daniel Podence drew them level with a deflected strike after nifty footwork in the box.
The hosts were awarded a penalty late on as Pedro Neto went down under Reece James’ challenge, but VAR rightly intervened to chalk off the spot kick as no contact was made.
But Wolves kept coming and Neto finished an incisive counter-attack to seal the three points for Nuno Espirito Santo’s men as Chelsea squandered the chance to go top.
Here are five talking points from Molineux.
1. Podence and Neto step up
The question on Wolves fans’ lips in recent weeks: ‘Who can step up in the absence of Raul Jimenez?’
Many assumed the burden would fall on Adama Traore, but the Spain international found himself on the bench after he failed to make an impression in the defeat to Aston Villa.
It was a ruthless decision by Nuno Espirito Santo – but one which paid dividends as Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto grabbed the all-important goals against Chelsea.
Neto’s goal was his fourth of the season and he looks to be settling well during his second season at Molineux.
Meanwhile, Podence’s fantastic equaliser was his third of the campaign and he was a handful for the Blues’ backline.
The two tricky wingers adding goals to their repertoires instils faith Wolves can cope in Jimenez’s absence.
2. Giroud rewards Lampard faith
After Chelsea failed to score in their defeat to Everton last weekend, few could have blamed Frank Lampard if he had made sweeping changes to his forward line.
But the Blues boss persisted with Olivier Giroud – and was rewarded for his patience.
The evergreen Frenchman darted to the front post and beat Willy Boly to nudge the ball under Rui Patricio, with goal-line technology confirming the ball sneaked through.
Giroud was a menace for the Wolves defence throughout and arguably should have had two goals on the night as he headed over from an early corner.
His goal marked his sixth in four starts in all competitions and means he is Chelsea’s joint-top scorer this season.
Given his limited minutes and 34 years, Giroud’s continued goalscoring output is remarkable.
3. Hosts return to back three
In a clear show of respect to the visitors, Wolves reverted to back three for Chelsea’s trip to Molineux.
Nuno Espirito Santo has experimented with a four-man backline in recent fixtures and it has heralded mixed results including a victory at Arsenal and defeat to Aston Villa.
The decision to revert to the system which has brought great success in recent seasons allowed Wolves an extra body in defence to help cope with Chelsea’s potent frontline.
Wolves also benefitted from a greater physical presence against a side who have shown their threat from set pieces through the likes of Kurt Zouma, Thiago Silva and Olivier Giroud.
While the defence was undone by Olivier Giroud’s excellent movement and finish early in the second half, Wolves were solid throughout the match.
It will be intriguing to see if Nuno will stick with the system or change to a more expansive four-at-the-back shape for next Monday’s trip to Burnley.
4. Wolves lacking first-half bite
Incredibly, over two-thirds of Wolves’ goals in the Premier League have come in the second half since the start of last season.
The hosts never looked like scoring in the first 45 minutes and the weight of filling in for the injured Raul Jimenez is understandably weighing heavy on teenage prospect Fabio Silva.
The 18-year-old is yet to open his Wolves account since a £35million arrival last summer but showed good awareness and a deft touch to link the front three, while he was unfortunate to see a strike ruled out for offside.
Alongside Silva, Pedro Neto and Daniel Podence were industrious and tricky in wide areas but shots on goal were limited to efforts from range in the first half.
It took a sublime solo effort from the latter to draw Wolves level in the 66th minute and even more phenomenal moment from Neto to grab three points in the dying seconds.
Nuno Espirito Santo must find a way of getting his forwards firing earlier in matches.
5. Title race repercussions
Chelsea needed a win to leapfrog both sides and go top of the Premier League to reaffirm their title candidacy after defeat to Everton last time out.
But the Blues’ lead at Molineux lasted 17 minutes before Daniel Podence’s strike levelled the scores, while Pedro Neto’s late strike means they stay fifth in the table.
With challenging London derbies against West Ham and Arsenal up next, Frank Lampard will be incredibly frustrated his side got nothing from the match.
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