Raul Jimenez’s first Molineux goal in over a year helped Wolverhampton Wanderers defeat Everton 2-1 on Monday night.
Jimenez netted his second goal of the campaign to double Wolves’ lead during a scintillating first half performance from Bruno Lage’s side. Defender Max Kilman had earlier given Wolves the lead with his first professional goal.
Alex Iwobi gave Everton hope of a comeback in the second half but Wolves held firm to secure three points and seventh spot in the Premier League table.
Wolves only needed 10 minutes to take the lead in their last match against Leeds United and they almost managed it again. Joao Moutinho’s corner fell to Ruben Neves at the far post and the returning midfielder’s volley forced Jordan Pickford into a good save.
Conor Coady reacted fastest to the rebound but he couldn’t divert the ball beyond Pickford at the second attempt.
After some below-par showings of late, Lage emphasised the importance of a good performance before the game and his team responded.
Their excellent opening to the match deserved a goal and it looked as though Hwang had provided it inside 15 minutes.
Jimenez danced past multiple blue shirts to find the South Korean inside the box, and he pirouetted before firing past Pickford.
Hwang and his teammates raced away to celebrate in front of the North Bank only for those dreaded three words – VAR checking goal – to appear on the big screen.
Replays showed Hwang was marginally offside and referee Martin Atkinson acted on the advice of Chris Kavanagh – who was in the Stockley Park hot-seat – and disallowed the goal.
Wolves didn’t have to wait much longer for the breakthrough, and it arrived via the most unlikely of sources.
Kilman hadn’t scored in his previous 43 appearances but the ever-improving defender nodded home Rayan Ait-Nouri’s corner to break his and Wolves’ duck in the 28th minute.
Wolves didn’t need a helping hand from Everton, but Ben Godfrey decided to give them one. He played a loose ball back towards Pickford which turned out to be the perfect pass for Jimenez.
The Mexican couldn’t believe his luck and showed superb composure to chip the ball over Pickford as the Everton goalkeeper tried to atone for his teammate’s error.
It wasn’t quite the perfect half from Wolves. Romain Saiss’s wild slice let in Demarai Gray shortly before half-time and the hosts were fortunate the forward produced an equally erratic finish.
Lage wouldn’t have wanted his team to give anything away after half-time but it’s in goalkeeper Jose Sa’s nature to take risks. Shortly after the restart Sa miscued a pass to Saiss and handed the ball on a plate to Richarlison.
Somehow, a combination of Sa and Coady prevented Richarlison from reducing the arrears, and saved the goalkeeper from Lage’s wrath.
The game quickly became an end-to-end contest with both teams creating chances. A headed one arrived for Jimenez thanks to bright play from Nelson Semedo, but the Wolves striker planted his effort wide.
Iwobi was more clinical when a deflected shot dropped at his feet inside Wolves’ penalty area to fire past Sa and give Everton hope.
Within seconds of the restart, Wolves had another chance to make the game safe. Francisco Trincao was found by Hwang and danced his way past his marker before somehow firing wide from 10 yards.
Everton’s final chance arrived from a set-piece as substitute Anthony Gordon connected at the near post. Fortunately for Wolves, Sa pulled off the latest spectacular save of what’s been a very impressive start to his Molineux career to ensure Everton went home empty handed.
Jose Sa 7.5
Sa had a hairy moment early in the second half and luckily didn’t concede. But the goalkeeper showed his class with an outstanding stop from Gordon late on to preserve the three points.
Max Kilman 8.5
Hit the woodwork at Villa Park a couple of weeks ago but buried his chance this time with the simplest of headers. Carried the ball out from the back well, and freed Semedo down the flank on multiple occasions.
He showed off his defensive qualities too with a late challenge to put Gray under pressure when Everton’s big first half chance arrived.
Kilman has worked his way to the top of Lage’s pecking order and deserves all the praise coming his way.
Conor Coady 7
The captain made a superb block to deny Richarlison after Sa’s poor pass and marshalled the backline very well.
Romain Saiss 7
Saiss was a tad rash at times with his passing, but his defensive work was invariably of a good standard.
Nelson Semedo 8
Semedo loves playing with Trincao and had the freedom to roam down the right side. He was involved in numerous threatening Wolves attacks and put one on a plate for Jimenez just after Iwobi’s goal.
Ruben Neves 8
Neves returned to the line-up after being benched at Leeds last time out and Wolves’ quality instantly improved. He dictated the play throughout and boasted an impressive 92 percent passing accuracy and the most touches of any Wolves player.
The midfielder never shirks his defensive responsibilities and made a last-ditch tackle on Gray to prevent Sa from being tested early in the second half.
Joao Moutinho 7
Moiutinho held things together alongside Neves and ensured Wolves didn’t become panicked after Iwobi’s goal.
Rayan Ait-Nouri 8
The French starlet has been made to wait for his chance this season, but he’s now forced his way in front of Marcal. Ait-Nouri offered his usual exuberance going forward and he’s now combining it with better defensive showings.
Francisco Trincao 8
Trincao was brought into the team to create problems behind Everton’s midfielders and he did that, especially during the first half.
The one criticism of the Portuguese winger is that he regularly misses chances and his detractors will add another gilt-edged Trincao miss to their scrapbooks this evening.
Hwang Hee-chan 8
VAR denied Hwang a fifth goal in seven Premier League games following another clinical finish. It didn’t detract from his overall game, with the summer signing involved in a lot of Wolves’ good attacking play.
His defensive diligence and work ethic is also making him incredibly popular in these parts.
Raul Jimenez 9*
It isn’t just Jimenez’s goals, his all-round play is so important to the way Wolves defend and attack. He was brilliant at times against Everton and it was his name ringing around the stadium as supporters left.
Jimenez took his goal wonderfully and could have been involved in a couple more. Top notch.
Daniel Podence (for Trincao, 79) 6
Added some freshness to the Wolves attack and caused Everton a few problems.
Leander Dendoncker (for Jimenez, 90) N/A
Shored things up in a very short cameo.
Fabio Silva (for Hwang, 90’) N/A
Not used: Ruddy, Storer, Hoever, Boly, Cundle, Traore