Aston Villa looked sub-par in a game full of injuries, struggles and poor passes that saw Wolverhampton Wanderers take all three points.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Aston Villa travelled to the Molineux to play out a Premier League Midlands rivalry against Wolverhampton Wanderers this afternoon, without Tom Heaton, Bjorn Engels and Jack Grealish in the squad.
The Wanderers were the first side to get a real attack on goal, forcing a corner within the first four minutes – but this resulted in nothing but a goal kick for the away side.
Things didn’t start well for Aston Villa as Jed Steer looked to injure himself reaching for a wayward shot from Matt Doherty, forcing third-choice goalkeeper Orjan Nyland to take his place between the sticks.
Frederic Guilbert picked up a yellow card for pulling Jota back near the halfway line in the 9th minute as the Portugal international looked to break. Saiss was booked for a similar challenge on John McGinn just two minutes later.
In the first twenty or so minutes, Wolves were the stronger side going forward – causing issues for the Aston Villa defence but not the Aston Villa goal.
Nyland was forced into his first save in the 26th minute as Adama Traore burst into the box before flicking the ball with the outside of his boot towards Jota, who headed the ball into Nyland’s hands.
Marvelous Nakamba was booked in the 26th minute for tripping Diogo Jota as Frederic Guilbert was dispossessed and Wolves looked to break.
Aston Villa were looking sloppy in possession, with Matt Targett giving the ball away and allowing another shot towards goal via Raul Jiminez, who shot just wide. This was the fourth time in three minutes that something similar had happened.
There was a VAR check in the 34th minute after Matt Targett and Matt Doherty tangled in the box – which didn’t award a penalty to Wolves – but more importantly, this caused a delay in the game with Targett down and holding his head.
Tyrone Mings was booked in the 40th minute for a late challenge on Adama Traore, who caught Matt Targett out of position – forcing Aston Villa’s stand-in captain to rush wide and slide for the ball.
Ruben Neves opened the scoring in the game from the resulting free-kick, as Moutinho whipped the free-kick across the edge of the box towards Neves, who struck the ball past Orjan Nyland’s left – with the Norweigan only able to get fingertips to the ball.
Just before half-time, Matt Targett was subbed off for Neil Taylor as the left-back looked to struggle with his vision after his whack on the back of the head following his scuffle with Doherty.
Aston Villa looked better from the off in the second half, causing issues early on for the Wolves defence. Wolves answered almost immediately with some pressure of their own – with Adama Traore getting a shot away in the 50th minute that smashed off the bar.
Wesley, off the back of a call-up to the Brazil team, had possibly the best chance of the game for Aston Villa at this point in a counter in the 54th, attempting to side foot his shot from outside the box but fired over.
Jota forced Orjan Nyland into tipping a shot from the edge of the box over the bar in the 64th minute – the end result of a brisk counter-attack via Adama Traore and Raul Jiminez.
The 68th minute saw Marvelous Nakamba subbed off for Henri Lansbury – arguably the wrong substitute after a number of misplaced passes from Douglas Luiz – but the Zimbabwean midfielder was operating with a yellow card.
Immediately after, Tryone Mings looked to have pulled his groin – audibly in some discomfort following a tackle – but all of Aston Villa’s substitutes had now been used.
There were shouts for penalties at both ends in the 72nd, one for a challenge from behind on Trezeguet, and then one on a potential handball via a Traore cross that hit Neil Taylor. Both were cleared via VAR, though the Trezeguet one was an arguable decision.
Diogo Jota was booked for dissent towards officials in the 74th.
There were handful of chances as Aston Villa looked the team on top in the last fifteen or so minutes – with Lansbury just missing a header, Wesley unable to get a shot away and Trezeguet and McGinn having shots blocked.
Diogo Jota was subbed off in the 81st minute for Pedro Neto.
An Adama counter-attack was the result of another goal for Wolves, as he paced down the right-hand side, bouncing off a challenge from Douglas Luiz before playing a ball across into a central position for Jiminez to tuck into the bottom corner.
Ruben Neves was subbed off in the 84th minute for defender Ryan Bennett.
Joao Moutinho was booked for a foul on John McGinn in the 85th, and Patrick Cutrone found his way on to the pitch in the 88th, replacing Raul Jiminez.
Trezeguet scored a late consolation in the 91st minute as a volley from the Egyptian was adjudged to have crossed the line as it looked like it had been cleared.