Wolves take big step towards safety with 2-0 win over Crystal Palace

Joachim Andersen’s early own goal and Ruben Neves’ penalty sealed the points.
Wolves take big step towards safety with 2-0 win over Crystal Palace

By Nick Mashiter, PA

Joachim Andersen’s comical own goal helped put Wolves on the brink of Premier League survival.

The Crystal Palace defender’s unfortunate effort and Ruben Neves’ late penalty gave the hosts a 2-0 win and moved them nine points above the relegation zone.

They sit 13th, level on points with Palace, after a third straight home win without conceding.

Ruben Neves scores Wolves' late second from a penalty
Ruben Neves scores Wolves’ late second from a penalty (David Davies/PA)

It is a run which has given Julen Lopetegui’s side a platform to safety and, barring a late collapse, should see them earn a sixth straight season in the top flight.

Palace, with their own status almost assured, were no great shakes but Jose Sa still had to deny Albert Sambi Lokonga and Eberechi Eze.

The Eagles paid for presenting Wolves with goals to slip to their first defeat since Roy Hodgson’s return last month.

It took just three minutes for the hosts to grab the opener as Andersen produced one for the blooper reel.

Hugo Bueno crossed for Diego Costa to force a smart save from Sam Johnstone – but Wolves did not have to worry.

Ruben Neves swung in the resulting corner, it was allowed to bounce and Andersen failed to get his feet right as it cannoned off his knee and over the line via the bar.

Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen, centre right, scores an early own goal
Crystal Palace’s Joachim Andersen scores an early own goal (Nick Potts/PA)

An early lead left a buoyant Molineux sensing safety with Wolves having won three of their previous four home games after what seemed like a potentially damaging defeat to Bournemouth at Molineux in February.

When Palace did threaten, however briefly, Lokonga slipped in the box after being picked out by Michael Olise.

After three wins and a draw since Hodgson returned to Selhurst Park last month, Palace’s own relegation fears were almost over and it was Wolves who were on top.

Yet that intensity began to fade as Palace found a foothold and Eze shot at Sa.

Olise and Eze were finding space and Wolves were indebted to Sa as he preserved their lead three minutes before the break.

Will Hughes controlled Chris Richards’ drive to set up Lokonga from 10 yards and Sa produced a brilliant reaction stop.

Wolves fans hold up a banner reading 'Joao Believe' in honour of midfielder Joao Moutinho
Wolves fans hold up a banner reading ‘Joao Believe’ during the win over Crystal Palace (David Davies/PA)

Eager to make up for their slow start Palace were encouraged but failed to make any significant inroads and it took until 17 minutes from the end for them to test the goalkeeper again.

This time it was Eze’s turn to be frustrated as his fine 25-yard drive was turned over by Sa.

Wolves had struggled to rediscover their early momentum, with only Craig Dawson’s header’s threatening, but it mattered little as Palace gave them another gift in injury time.

Johnstone collected the ball from a throw in but an awful touch left the goalkeeper dangerously lunging in on Pedro Neto in the box. He was lucky to avoid a red card but was beaten low by Neves from the spot to settle the game.

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