Ruben Neves and Raul Jimenez earned Wolves victory with a dominant 2-1 win over Aston Villa. Midfielder Neves’ first-half thunderbolt and Jimenez’s late effort lifted Nuno Espirito Santo’s side to eighth in the Premier League, before Trezeguet grabbed an injury-time consolation for Villa.
It was Wolves’ first top-flight win since their stunning success at Manchester City a month ago. Yet they are now unbeaten in seven and just one point behind the top five after inflicting a third straight Premier League defeat on Villa.
Dean Smith’s Villa – now three points above the relegation zone – desperately missed injured skipper Jack Grealish as they fell to a limp defeat at Molineux. They were second best from the start and Wolves threatened early on with a Matt Doherty effort which was deflected wide.
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Two minutes later the wing-back’s cross came back off the bar with Villa goalkeeper Jed Steer injuring himself trying to tip it over.
Steer was making his first league appearance of the season, with Tom Heaton out with a training ground knock, but the 27-year-old lasted just eight minutes as he limped off for Orjan Nyland, the Norway international’s first game since 18 December.
That was a further blow for Villa to add to the absence of playmaker Grealish, and they struggled to settle as Wolves dominated and Jimenez volleyed wide after Jonny’s deflected shot.
Villa beat a weakened Wolves 2-1 in the Carabao Cup less than two weeks ago but, back up to full strength, the hosts had too much. They continued to cut through Villa’s midfield but were wasteful, Jota heading at Nyland and Jimenez slicing wide.
Wolves continued to find space easily and wanted a penalty after 34 minutes when the overworked Matt Targett tangled with Doherty but their appeals were ignored. However, the hosts finally found a deserved breakthrough four minutes before the break.
Tyrone Mings brought down Adama Traore on the right and Joao Moutinho squared his free-kick to Neves to crash in a low drive from 20 yards. It was the midfielder’s first goal since August and came after boss Nuno demanded more from the Portugal international in midweek.
Things got worse for Villa when Targett was forced off in first-half injury time, being replaced by Neil Taylor.
Villa were there for the taking and Traore, who spent a year at Villa Park after joining from Barcelona in 2015, rattled the bar from 16 yards five minutes into the second half. Jimenez shot wide and Neves’ drive deflected over soon after as Wolves continued to run the game.
Villa looked ready to roll over but Wesley fired over a rare chance from 18 yards in a warning for the hosts. Wolves, though, were rarely in danger and they pushed for a second, Jota’s drive was turned over by Nyland after 65 minutes.
Shortly afterwards Jimenez dragged wide and both teams had cries for penalties rejected when, first, Trezeguet went down in the box and then Traore’s cross struck Taylor on the chest.
Villa tried to exert some late pressure but their hopes were ended with six minutes left when Traore broke down the right and squared for Jimenez to roll in. Trezeguet’s close-range drive, given by goal line technology, in injury-time then gave the scoreline a flattering look for Villa.