Spirited Wolves force stalemate in 'chess' match

Theo Walcott
Theo WalcottPHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo saluted his side's fighting spirit after they fought back to claim a point against Southampton in a 1-1 draw on Monday.

Wolves' Pedro Neto came off the bench to cancel out Theo Walcott's strike for Southampton as the two sides battled to an entertaining stalemate in their Premier League clash at the Molineux Stadium.

With defender Conor Coady's run of 119 consecutive league games for Wolves brought to an end when he was ruled out due to a close contact testing positive for Covid-19, the hosts looked shaky in defence as they shifted to a flat back four for the first time during Nuno's reign.

"We try to be solid and we managed that. Let's see if we play a back four again, (but) that's not the point. We should analyse what we have and try to improve it," Nuno told Sky Sports.

"But the spirit was good. Particularly after the last game (a 1-0 loss to Leicester) it is always important to bounce back."

With Danny Ings out injured, Walcott played as a striker alongside Che Adams. And it paid off when he rattled home Adams' centre in the 58th minute to score his first goal for the club since rejoining them on loan from Everton last month.

"It was a very tidy finish in the end, Che gave me the assist, I was pleased with my goal. It feels like a win, they play some fantastic football and it's a really good point," Walcott, who made his first Saints bow in 2005, told Sky Sports.

The former Arsenal man squandered a great chance to make it 2-0 six minutes later and it was to prove costly as Wolves fought back, Raul Jimenez striking a post in the 75th after good work by Joao Moutinho before Neto reacted quickest to slam the ball home.

The home side had the better chances but there were no more goals and the result leaves Southampton fifth on 17 points, three behind pacesetters Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool, while Wolves are ninth on 14 points after nine games.

"I'm happy to work with Theo, he definitely showed it means something to him to play for this club," Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl said.

"You can feel how much he invests working for the team.

"We did our maximum with the squad we have. I'm very proud of my team because taking something was not easy. It was like chess, both managers found solutions to cause the other one problems."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2020, with the headline 'Spirited Wolves force stalemate in 'chess' match'. Print Edition | Subscribe