EPL

Wolves cling on to claim point against high-flying Aston Villa

By Sports Desk October 08, 2023

Aston Villa missed the chance to climb into the Premier League’s top four after a 1-1 draw at Wolves.

Pau Torres’ equaliser, just two minutes after Hwang-Hee Chan’s opener, saw them come from behind at Molineux.

Mario Lemina was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking and Ollie Watkins hit the post with the final touch of the match.

Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Brighton opened the door for Villa to move into the Champions League spots but they never did enough for victory.

Wolves earned another solid point following last week’s swashbuckling 2-1 win over Manchester City to continue their progress under Gary O’Neil.

The manager would have been encouraged by another gritty performance and with better finishing from Pedro Neto it would have been another victory.

It was Villa, though, who started the brighter as Torres miscued a header and Jose Sa turned Matty Cash’s angled effort behind before John McGinn twice fired off target.

It preceded a good spell for Wolves, the hosts attempting to stamp their authority on the game without ever testing Emi Martinez.

Their final ball continued to elude them until Hwang crossed for Rayan Ait-Nouri to steer wide after 33 minutes.

Yet it was the hosts’ one decent chance of the half and they needed Lemina to rush out and block Douglas Luiz’s shot just before the break.

Villa’s start to the season, which had lifted them to fifth, was their second best in the Premier League but there were signs of tiredness and the visitors’ decision to resort to gamesmanship early belied the quality they have.

They emerged for the second half sharper, though, and Jose Sa turned over when Watkins directed McGinn’s pass goalwards.

It was a brief spark from Villa but there was little surprise when Wolves grabbed the lead after 53 minutes.

Douglas Luiz was caught by Hwang with the ball worked wide to Neto who ran at Torres. He engineered enough space to cross low for Hwang to poke in his fifth league goal of the season from close range.

But the celebrations were cut short just two minutes later when Villa hit back. The hosts failed to clear from Douglas Luiz’s free kick and Watkins’ cute cross was turned in by Torres.

It raised hopes the scrappy and, sometimes, ill-tempered game would take a step up in quality but neither side were able to ram home an advantage.

Wolves wanted a penalty when Neto tumbled under pressure from Boubacar Kamara while Villa failed to threaten Sa again.

With 12 minutes left, Neto should have settled the game when Sasa Kalajdzic’s excellent cross found Wolves’ star man, only for him to blaze over from 10 yards.

The hosts then had to see out eight of the 12 minutes of stoppage time – during which Watkins, Douglas Luiz and Nicolo Zaniolo went close – with 10 men when Lemina was dismissed for a second yellow card, after tugging back the Italian forward.

Watkins almost snatched it with the final touch of the game when his header smacked the base of the post.

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