Wolves 1-0 Crystal Palace: Nuno Espirito Santo’s side progress to FA Cup fourth round after dominant performance against toothless Eagles
- Wolverhampton Wanderers dominated throughout against a poor Crystal Palace
- Roy Hodgson’s Eagles failed to register even a single shot on target in the match
- Winger Adama Traore scored his first of the season in what proved the winner
The story of this third round will be one of chaos and confusion, written by kids and the contagion of coronavirus. It was reassuring, then, that at least on one side of the midlands, a shred of familiarity remains.
Here we were treated to a rare sight – two top-flight squads, both flush with options. Palace boss Roy Hodgson had the luxury of making wholesale changes by choice.
And Wolves’ Adama Traore will hope this marks the resumption of more normal service, too. After 11 months without a goal, the winger was at his devastating best, settling this game with a trademark run and a ferocious first-half finish.
And so Wolves move into the fourth round for only the third time in the past nine seasons. The omens, though, are good – the last time they made it this far they reached the semi-finals. And after just one win in seven before this, Nuno Espirito Santo will be glad for some joy at last.
Wolves winger Adama Traore proved the match-winner in a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace
Traore notched his first of the season with a fine left-footed shot from the edge of the area
Wolves (4-2-3-1): Ruddy 6, Semedo 7, Coady 6.5, Saiss 6, Ait Nouri 6; Dendoncker 6.5 (Hoever 85,6), Neves 7; Traore 8 (Gibbs-White 69, 6), Moutinho 6.5, Neto 7; Fabio Silva 5.5 (Cutrone 78, 6).
Unused substitutes: Patricio (GK), Kilman, Richards, Vitinha, Otasowie, Corbeanu.
Yellow cards: Ait-Nouri 66, Gibbs-White 85.
Goals: Traore 35.
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo 6.5.
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Butland 6.5; Clyne 6, Tomkins 6, Sakho 6.5 (Kouyate 45, 6), Van Aanholt 5; Ayew 5.5, Riedewald 6, McCarthy 6 (Mitchell 70, 6), Eze 6.5; Benteke 5 (Zaha 70, 7), Batshuayi 5 (Townsend 85, 6).
Unused substitutes: Guaita (GK), Ward, Kelly, McArthur, Milivojevic.
Yellow cards: McCarthy 62.
Manager: Roy Hodgson 5
Referee: David Coote 6
Crystal Palace, meanwhile, exit at the first time of asking for a second straight season and Hodgson’s team selection – he made nine changes, Nuno just two – suggest he won’t lose much sleep over a slightly less congested calendar.
The raft of Palace changes meant a debut in goal for recent signing Jack Butland. At the other end, John Ruddy was making only his second start in more than a year.
Together the two former England internationals have been consigned to mere spectators so far this season and during the opening stages here, their role continued in kind.
Though both sides began with energy and intent, neither could make anything stick in the final third. That was until Pedro Neto worked some space down the left. The winger jinked this way and that before curling a delightful cross on to the head of Fabio Silva.
Even then, Butland could only watch as the 18-year-old directed a free header at goal from seven yards out. Somehow, he managed to miss the target. It was a woeful miss but it did at least spark the game to life.
Palace went straight down the other end and Michy Batshuayi drove towards the byline before clipping a cross to the back post for Eberechi Eze. But he, too, fluffed his lines – blazing well over.
Suddenly this tie had opened up. Traore cut inside his man and fired just past the near post; right back Nelson Semedo followed suit and stung the palms of Butland from distance.
So by the time the Wolves opener arrived, 10 minutes before the break, Palace couldn’t say they hadn’t been warned. Again, it was down the Wolves right that the opening came. Again it was Traore who did the damage.
Traore was congratulated by boss Nuno Espirito Santo after opening the scoring at Molineux
The winger was given too much space to come inside, and too much time to pick his spot. From the edge of the box, he unleashed a rocket which flew beyond Butland.
It was some way to end 38 games without a goal – and probably what Wolves deserved. By then, they were making most of the running, even if Palace had shown flickers of promise on the break.
By the hour mark, this tie should have been over. A few minutes into the second half, Silva worked another headed chance. From a corner, the teenager muscled himself into space but was again wasteful.
Home manager Nuno Espirito Santo saw his side progress to the fourth round of the FA Cup
As in the first half, his miss briefly woke Palace from their slumber. But soon it was Wolves who came close to the game’s second goal once more.
Traore skipped into space down the right and cut the ball back for Leander Dendoncker, whose effort was well saved by Butland.
Soon Palace sent for reinforcements. Wilf Zaha was among those summoned from the bench but even though he added some spark to their attack, Wolves held firm.
Ruddy was rarely troubled and at the other end Neto fired wide after being set free on the break. Palace rarely looked likely to make him pay.
While Eagles boss Roy Hodgson exited the third round for the second successive campaign
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