Wolves 1 Everton 2: Michael Keane powers in late header to send Toffees back up to fourth

THIS was supposed to be a sterile tussle between two toothless tigers.

But to their credit, Wolves and Everton bared their claws and treated us to a decent scrap – despite being deprived of star strikers Raul Jimenez and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Take a bow Nuno Esperito Santo and Carlo Ancellotti.

Both bosses could have cursed their luck and felt sorry for themselves.

They could have bobbed and weaved and tried to nick a win with a sucker punch goal on the break, especially as Nuno couldn’t call on crocked speedster Adama Traore – who failed to recover from the muscle injury he collected late on after scoring the winner against Crystal Palace.

Meanwhile, Ancelotti knew there wasn’t enough in the tank for Richarlison or Cenk Tosun to give him more than a cameo second-half appearance if called on.

But rather than make excuses, and sit in second gear pinging passes around, looking for one slip to nick three points, they both ordered their players to aggressively go for three points.

When the dust had settle on a rip-roaring 90 minutes, Everton had seized the honours.

But, to nick a well-worn cliche, football was the winner as two famous clubs went for each other's throats even though neither had their preferred weapons of choice.

Wolves' back four were still trying to work out Ancelotti’s fluid 4-4-2 formation when they fell behind with just six minutes on the clock.


Forced to play without 11-goal top scorer Calvert-Lewin, the Italian handed two of his most creative players licence to roam into traditional No 9 territory.

Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez rose to the challenge and lapped up the freedom. However, it was wide boy Alex Iwobi who cashed in to open the scoring for the visitors.

The former Arsenal forward started the move himself as he took the ball wide on the right and fed James Rodriguez, who had dropped into an empty pocket of space.

The Colombian craftsman swept a delightful ball wide to Lucas Digne, lurking on the left.

With Wolves chasing shadows, the wing-back drilled a low cross back to the edge of the 18-yard box, where Iwobi came steaming in to slam a low shot past a startled Rui Patricio.

It was Iwobi’s first Premier League goal of the season – his last was also against Wolves in a 3-2 win at Goodison on September 1, 2019.

The home side looked rattled as Everton's frontmen darted off in different directions, enjoying the freedom to link and swap all over the final third.

Another Digne cross was begging to be finished but Ruben Neves showed amazing composure to casually chest the ball back to his grateful goalie Patricio.

Nerves soothed, Neves then gave his team another welcome shot in the arm by showing the other side of his game to grab a swift equaliser.

Joao Moutinho’s corner was knocked out by Yerry Mina but only as far as Rayan Ait-Nouri who timed his run and cross to perfection.

Talk about putting the ball through the eye of a needle, the French kid swept his cross between three Toffees defenders to pick out Neves at the back post.

And the little Portuguese midfielder expertly beat Pickford with a side foot volley from seven yards.

It was a rare goal from inside the box for Neves, who normally specialises in spectacular volleys from different postcodes to the goalposts!

Wolves were on the prowl now and Pickford had to punch clear of Fabio Silva after Pedro Neto’s shot deflected and spun high into the night sky.

Then after 17 minutes the England keeper showed lightning reflexes to get his right glove to a Fabio Silva shot on the turn.

At the other end Iwobi worked a 1-2 with James Rodrigues but his shot didn’t have the power to trouble Patricio.

Yerry Mina’s last three goals have come on the stroke of half time and he almost repeated the trick for a fourth time when he met James corner but his header sailed over.

Not surprisingly the pace dropped for a while after the break and there were bookings for Abdoulaye Doucoure and Mason Holgate as Everton flexed their muscles.

Neves was outstanding and almost scored an unforgettable goal when he flipped a high pass up into the air with the laces of his right boot, before volleying a 25-yard screamer which flew inches over with Pickford beaten.

But Everton were in no mood to accept anything less than three points to reclaim fourth place and their winner came after 77 minutes.

Sub Andre Gomes retrieved a half-cleared corner and centered for Keane to power a header into the top corner.

Neves hit back and almost snatched a point no-one would have grudged him when he curled a sensational free kick which bounced off the corner of post and bar.

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