Football: Wolves beat Villa 2-1 to move into top eight

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Raul Jimenez scores his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa at Molineux on Nov 10, 2019. PHOTO: DPA

WOLVERHAMPTON (REUTERS) - Wolverhampton Wanderers shrugged off their midweek Europa League exertions to comfortably beat Aston Villa 2-1 in Sunday's (Nov 10) Midlands derby with goals by Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez.

After a slow start to the season, and despite already playing 24 games, Wolves are gathering momentum and a comfortable win lifted them to eighth in the Premier League.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side are unbeaten in the league since Sept 14 and enter the international break in high spirits.

"I'm happy with the performance. We played really good. When you produce so many good things, you want more (goals)," he said. "We always have a threat on the break."

Villa, on the other hand, remain one place above the bottom three after a difficult afternoon that began when they had to replace injured keeper Jed Steer to injury after five minutes.

With first-choice keeper Tom Heaton missing it meant a debut for Orjan Nyland in the heat of a local derby.

Wolves dominated and the only surprise was it took them until nearly halftime to go ahead.

Villa's defence switched off from a free kick and Joao Moutinho pulled the ball back for the unmarked Neves to power an unstoppable shot inside the right-hand post.

Another injury for Villa led to left back Matt Targett being replaced before the interval but the visitors showed more endeavour after the break to at least stay in the game.

Wolves should have been well clear with Adama Traore's thunderous drive smashing against the crossbar, while Jimenez and Diogo Jota also missed good opportunities.

Villa threatened to equalise on the odd occasions, once when Wesley curled a shot wide, but Wolves effectively sealed the points when Jimenez fired into the corner after good work by the dangerous Traore, a former Villa player.

There was some consolation for Villa when Trezeguet halved the deficit in stoppage time but it was too late.

Wolves's first Premier League win over Villa for eight years lifted them to 16 points from 12 games while Villa remain fourth from bottom with 11 points.

Villa manager Dean Smith did not use the injuries as excuses, saying his side failed to match Wolves' desire.

"That's as bad a first 45 minutes I've had since Wigan away last year. Very poor, didn't start," he said.

"It appeared the game was bigger for them than it was for us, we didn't win any balls, duels, didn't pass it well.

"The best thing I got out of the first half was it was only 1-0 at halftime."

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