Superb attacking trio topple Southampton as Wolves come from behind to win 3-2


Southampton’s unbeaten start to the new decade was ruthlessly halted after Wolves’ front-three inspired a deserved comeback at St Mary’s stadium.

2-0 down at half-time, the visitors front three of Pedro Neto, Adama Traore and Raul Jimenez ran Southampton ragged as the latter’s brace completed a second-half comeback.

The result ends Southampton’s unbeaten streak, who had been in the midst of a remarkable turnaround in form in the last month. They stay in 12th while Wolves move up to sixth.

Despite the Midlands visitors dominating large parts of the first-half, clinical Saints headed into the break two goals to the good, with first-time finishes from Jan Bednarek and Shane Long separating the sides.

But a tactical tweak at half-time from Nuno Espirito Santo galvanised his troops, who instantly hit-back. Pedro Neto pulled one back before a double from Raul Jimenez put the away side in-front.

But signs of Saints’ vulnerability were there from the early exchanges. Unchanged from their victory against Leicester last time out, Southampton’s tried and now trusted 4-2-2-2 system proved problematic for themselves.

The position of the inverted Wolves ‘widemen’, along with their trademark wing-backs, caused Saints’ narrow midfield to be reguarly pulled apart.

Despite being second best in the first quarter of an hour, Southampton took the lead.

James Ward-Prowse’s out-swinging free-kick made its way to Jan Bednarek at the back post, who cushioned a half-volley into the far right corner.

It was an example of how the hosts’ fortunes had changed in recent weeks. As the St Mary’s faithful had witnessed in months gone by, a slow start was often punished with an opposition goal. But this time, Southampton had  become the beneficiaries of their previous downfall.

While Bednarek’s first goal of the season livened up the Saints, frequent giveaways were becoming an ever-increasing concern. One cheap giveaway sparked a Wolves counter-attack, but top-scorer Raul Jimenez failed to round-off the move, scuffing his effort six-yards out.

The Mexican had a chance minutes later when he managed to get behind the ball-watching Southampton backline. The forward misjudged his stretching lunge and saw his effort go wide of the goal.

But it was a case of de ja vu for Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, who were left to rue another missed chance when Shane Long grabbed his first goal since April 2019.

The Irishman ran across the face of goal, flicking Cedric’s superb cross with a deft header towards the far post. Rui Patricio was left bystanding as Long’s delicate glance put Saints into a commanding position.

Two goals, neither came from usual star-man Danny Ings.

After the break, Espirito Santo switched to a diamond-like midfield with Adama Traore, Wolves’ main threat in the first-half, moving off the left and instead operating as a central striker with Jimenez. Pedro Neto also went in-field, playing just behind the pair at the tip of the diamond.

But Southampton continued to push for a decisive third with Shane Long hitting the post. After good work down the left flank from Nathan Redmond, the winger found Long, whose downwards header cannoned off the upright.

Just a minute later, it was Saints’ turn to grieve a missed chance as Neto pulled one back. Traore skipped down the right channel, before picking out Neto. The number seven seemingly having all the time and space to control and finish with aplomb.

With the help of VAR, Wolves were awarded a penalty on the hour mark. Jack Stephens was adjudged to have brought down Neto.

Jimenez stepped up to send Alex McCarthy the wrong way and levelled proceedings.

While Southampton were 2-0 up, it was somewhat flattering. Wolves had been the much better side and never looked out of the game. The slight change in system from Espirito Santo had paid dividence as Saints began to look weary.

In what were becoming rare Southampton attack’s, it was Redmond’s turn to hit the woodwork. Cutting in from the left, the winger’s drilled effort shattered the crossbar and over the frame of the goal.

In the 75th minute, Wolves sealed a well-deserved comeback with Raul Jimenez grabbing his second of the game and his 19th of the season.

Southampton were once-again dispossessed, leaving the backline two against two. A ruthless counter-attack got Traore in behind who squared to Jimenez. The Mexican was on hand to put the away side in front with a controlled finish into the bottom right corner.

As Saints’ pushed for an equaliser, Jack Stephens had their best chance in added time when his glancing header went just wide of the goal.

In an aggressive encounter, Wolves emerged deserved winners and proved they still remain a well-oiled machine under Nuno Espirito Santo.

Team Lineups:

Southampton (4-2-2-2): McCarthy; Cedric, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand; Hojbjerg (c), Ward-Prowse; Armstrong (Djenepo 70′), Redmond (Boufal 79′); Long (Adams 70′), Ings

Unused substitutes: Gunn, Vestergaard, Romeu, Obafemi

Wolves (5-2-3): Patricio; Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady (c), Saiss, Jonny; Neves, Moutinho; Neto (Kilman 86′), Jimenez, Traore

Unused substitutes: Ruddy, Rasmussen, Giles, Jordao, Gibbs-White, Ashley-Seal


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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