Wolves’ win at Leeds United, which moved them into sixth in the Premier League, was a “massive result” according to defender Conor Coady.
After losing their first two games of the season, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have now won their past three, although Coady said it was difficult to achieve this third victory, decided by a 70th-minute Raul Jimenez deflected strike.
“It was a massive result for us, we knew how tough it would be,” he said.
“They were fantastic last season and play at 100mph, but we stuck at our plan. It’s hard to get after them, you have to play with your brain.”
Although Leeds dominated the opening period, the visitors were in charge from the final minute of the half when Daniel Podence’s shot was saved.
“They were very attacking, we looked at that and then we got a bit of control in the second half,” Coady added to Sky Sports.
In only the second top-flight Elland Road meeting between these two famous old clubs since 1981, Wolves were well on top by the time Jimenez took the ball across field from the right flank after 70 minutes, before checking inside to shoot from the edge of the box.
Kalvin Phillips tried to block the Mexican’s effort but only succeeded in heading into the opposite corner, leaving goalkeeper Illan Meslier stranded and unable to stop Jimenez netting his third goal of the season.
Wolves thought they had scored earlier in the half when Roman Saiss lashed home Podence’s cross, but after taking guidance from VAR Michael Oliver, referee David Coote ruled it out for offside.
Though close, it was the right call. It certainly created far less controversy than the incident the pair were involved in on Saturday when – with Oliver in charge and Coote at Premier League HQ – they deemed Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did not deserve a red card after injuring Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk with a reckless challenge.
Reality check for Leeds
Leeds have enjoyed an excellent start to their first top-flight season since 2004 and victory would have taken them into third, but this first home defeat since February was a bit of a reality check for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
The Argentine’s deep thinking about the game has turned the West Yorkshire side into a tactical conundrum.
At different times they can have three, four or five players in defence depending whether Stuart Dallas is pushing up the left flank or Phillips is dropping deep.
And as they did in their thrilling draw with Manchester City in their last home game, Leeds enjoyed long periods when they were the better side.
Luke Ayling had a shot blocked by Max Kilman and Patrick Bamford got to Jack Harrison’s cross but was unable to turn his first-time effort goalwards.
They rallied after Jimenez had broken the deadlock and Pablo Hernandez did have chance to level, but the effort was blocked and with it went Leeds’ hopes of avoiding a second defeat of the season.
Wolves in transition
Wolves will be delighted at three wins from their opening five games, particularly as manager Nuno is in the early stages of revolutionising his team’s style of play, changing them from a largely counter-attacking unit into one that is comfortable in possession.
However, with three of his new recruits on the bench, including £35.6m teenager Fabio Silva, the indications are Nuno has not quite settled on his preferred use of the talents at his disposal.
A first-half possession statistic of 31% underlined Wolves’ labours, as did their return of zero shots on target before Podence drove the best chance of the opening period straight at Meslier with virtually the final kick before the whistle.
Jimenez’s forward partnership with Podence will be the key to Wolves’ hopes of progress as Nuno’s rebuilding work continues.
The Mexican remains one of the Premier League’s most feared strikers – only Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also scored 30 top-flight goals since the start of last season – and Podence is blossoming into a capable replacement for Diogo Jota.
‘They were so dynamic’ – reaction
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo speaking to BBC’s Match of the Day: “It was a good performance with some aspects to improve. We were better in the second half, but at the start it was very difficult for us.
“They broke us, created chances, they were so dynamic. We had to adjust and be more clinical in front. The goal was fortunate but we had chances.
“There was a proposal from [former Arsenal manager] Arsene Wenger for daylight for offsides – VAR is fine margins and we want them to make good decisions. It is a challenge for referees to improve, to be better, be faster and let the game flow.
“Nobody likes to celebrate and then come back. VAR can go both ways, let’s try to help and make things better together.”
Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa: “In the first half we should have established a difference. In the second half it was more even.
“We had the sensation that we could unbalance them. We created enough opportunities to establish a lead.
“I don’t think they were better than us, but they neutralised our game better. The game was very hard, very physical and there was a lot of interruptions.”
Jimenez hits milestone – stats
- Leeds suffered their first home defeat in 12 games in all competitions (W8 D3), since a 0-1 defeat to Wigan in the Championship in February 2020.
- Wolves have won four league meetings in a row against Leeds for the first time since February 1958 to April 1960 (a run of five).
- Wolves have won three of their first five games (L2) of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1979-80.
- This was Leeds’ first home defeat in the Premier League since April 2004 (1-2 v Portsmouth).
- Jimenez has netted 33 goals in the Premier League for Wolves, 11 more than any other player Steven Fletcher managed, while only Joao Moutinho has more assists (14) than the Mexican (13).
- Max Kilman registered his first goal involvement in his 14th game for Wolves in all competitions.
Leeds next play in the Premier League at high-flying Aston Villa on 23 October (20:00 BST), while Wolves entertain Newcastle on 25 October (16:30 GMT).
- 2AylingBooked at 15mins
- 21StruijkSubstituted forHernándezat 75′minutes
- 23PhillipsBooked at 61mins
- 17Hélder CostaSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat 71′minutes
- 22HarrisonSubstituted forDias Belloliat 82′minutes
- 18Dias Belloli
- 11Rui Patrício
- 22Nélson Semedo
- 28João MoutinhoBooked at 66minsSubstituted forNevesat 82′minutes
- 7NetoSubstituted forMarçal de Oliveiraat 89′minutes
- 10Castelo PodenceSubstituted forTraoréat 65′minutes
- 5Marçal de Oliveira
- 17Soares Silva
- David Coote
Match ends, Leeds United 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Second Half ends, Leeds United 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Rúben Neves.
Ian Poveda-Ocampo (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Marçal (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Attempt blocked. Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leander Dendoncker.
Foul by Robin Koch (Leeds United).
Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Marçal replaces Pedro Neto.
Foul by Patrick Bamford (Leeds United).
Nélson Semedo (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ian Poveda-Ocampo (Leeds United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Neves replaces João Moutinho.
Substitution, Leeds United. Raphinha replaces Jack Harrison.
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Willy Boly.
Attempt blocked. Pablo Hernández (Leeds United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Harrison.
Attempt missed. Pablo Hernández (Leeds United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luke Ayling with a cross.