Nuno Espirito Santo not focused on table as Wolves move level with leaders

Wolves moved into the Premier League’s top three after victory on Friday.

By Press Association Published: 30 October 2020 - 11.06pm

Boss Nuno Espirito Santo played down Wolves’ charge into the top three and called on his side to keep improving.

Rayan Ait-Nouri’s debut strike and Daniel Podence’s close-range finish ensured the hosts sit third, joint top of the Premier League, before the weekend following a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Luka Milivojevic was sent off late on for Palace, who also had Michy Batshuayi’s goal disallowed for offside and a penalty overturned by VAR on Friday.

Third is Wolves’ highest position this far into a top-flight season since October 1979, when they went on to finish sixth and win the League Cup.

Nuno said: “I don’t look at the table. The table will never be our point of reflection and it doesn’t mean anything in this moment.

“It’s all about the performance, the table is not important. The work is important. Playing without fans requires a lot of focus, we haven’t the edge of Molineux.

“We have to sustain and improve. Clearly we improved from the last game against Newcastle so let’s try to improve against a very tough team in Leicester.

“Every game in the Premier League is very tough, the goal is always to start the game and be able to score.

Daniel Podence celebrates his goal with fellow scorer Rayan Ait-Nouri, right
Daniel Podence celebrates his goal with fellow scorer Rayan Ait-Nouri, right (Andrew Boyers/PA)

“We started really well, we unbalanced a very good team in Crystal Palace. The idea is to always start the best we can but sometimes it’s not what you want, it’s what you can do.

“We cannot be predictable, we have to be versatile in our game. We are committed, excited and motivated to make ourselves better.”

Wolves took control early and Podence was denied by Vicente Guaita with Leander Dendoncker heading wide.

Batshuayi had a goal rightly disallowed for offside before Wolves took the lead after 18 minutes, Ait-Nouri drilling in after Podence’s cross was only half cleared.

Dendoncker hit the bar from 30 yards before Podence made it 2-0 after 27 minutes, firing in Pedro Neto’s cross from close range.

Daniel Podence, right, scores Wolves' second goal
Daniel Podence, right, scores Wolves’ second goal (Andrew Boyers/PA)

There was no way back for Palace, especially after their lifeline was taken away seven minutes before the break.

Patrick Van Aanholt was tripped by Willy Boly in the area but VAR denied the Eagles a way back with the defender correctly ruled offside in the build-up.

Palace improved but Wolves stood firm and could have added a third with Podence and Raul Jimenez going close.

The visitors’ night ended in more misery, though, when Milivojevic was sent off after a dangerous tackle on Joao Moutinho following referee Martin Atkinson’s review.

Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “For me it was a fair tackle. I think we’ll appeal. If it’s up to me we will certainly appeal, to get three games for that will be a gross injustice.

Luka Milivojevic leaves the pitch after being sent off
Luka Milivojevic leaves the pitch after being sent off (Andrew Boyers/PA)

“I’ve watched it on the video and in my opinion it was a fair challenge.

“Wolves started very strongly and as a result we found ourselves 2-0 down. The game evened out in the second half and until the sending-off we were asking a lot of questions to get ourselves back in the game.

“We worked very hard in the second half and played some very good football.

“I haven’t see the video of the penalty, I’m told it was a close offside call before the ball was played in.”