Wolves 2-1 Chelsea: Premier League – live reaction | Premier League

Key events

Mauricio Pochettino: “We feel very disappointed because we deserve much more. We are not clinical enough. We created chances and had the possession.

“It is a young team and many players are in the Premier League for the first time. They need to adapt. We need to learn from these games. We are in a position Chelsea should not be in.”

Mario Lemina: “It is amazing. The support that we’ve got here is fantastic – we just push all the time. We are really happy to make this performance in front og our supporters.”

Matt Doherty: “(The goal was) very important because they nicked a goal at the end. I tend to have a knack over my career of being in the right place at the right time and I slotted it away.”

Merry Christmas!

I’m afraid those intestinal problems have returned so I might be absent for a bit, but Pete Lansley’s match report will appear shortly.

Full time: Wolves 2-1 Chelsea

That’s it! Wolves move up to 11th, level on points with Chelsea, after another stirring win over a Big Seven club at Molineux. Mario Lemina and Matt Doherty were the scorers, and Christopher Nkunku’s first Premier League goal wasn’t enough for Chelsea.

Not for the first time this season, Chelsea missed far too many chances. If they had a goalscorer they’d be dangerous.

90+13 min Hwang almost seals the game, stumbling into the area before being desperately tackled.

90+11 min The two late goals mean yet more added time.

90+10 min Hugo Bueno is booked for fouling Madueke, then the Chelsea sub keeper Marcus Bettinelli gets a yellow card as well.

90+9 min Sterling collides with Joao Gomes in the area and goes over. He’s booked for diving, an exceptionally harsh decision that means he, along with Cole Palmer, will miss the Crystal Palace game on Wednesday.

Sterling’s deflected cross loops up towards Nkunku, unmarked six yards out, and he strained his neck muscles to guide a header into the far corner. It’s his first goal for Chelsea. “That,” says Alan Smith on Sky, “is a top header.”

GOAL! Wolves 2-1 Chelsea (Nkunku 90+6)

Now then!

Chelsea’s Christopher Nkunku (right) scores their side’s first goal. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

90+5 min On the Chelsea bench, Mauricio Pochettino’s facial expression is one part distressed, four parts fuming.

I thought Matt Doherty’s introduction signalled the parking of the bus by Wolves. Far from it: he has just sealed the game! Hugo Bueno’s low cross was cut out at the near post by Badiashile – but he only guide the ball straight to Doherty, who opened his body to slide the ball calmly past Petrovic. That’s a very accomplished finish.

GOAL! Wolves 2-0 Chelsea (Doherty 90+3)

The bus driver has scored!

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Matt Doherty scores.
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Matt Doherty scores. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images

90+2 min Madueke cuts inside from the right but shoots wide of the far post. The wrong option, poorly executed.

90 min A fierce cross from Madueke is fumbled by Sa, but he gets away with it. There will be 11 minutes of added time.

88 min The commentators think there will be around 10 minutes of added time, in no small part because of the injury too Craig Dawson.

87 min “Just as a counterpoint to Charles Antaki’s well observed moment of 2023, I’d note that the Premier League had its first female referee yesterday with a refreshing absence (I think?) of hullabaloo and the England women’s goalkeeper won SPOTY (it feels like only one World Cup since ‘these teams need a man in goal’ was still getting an airing),” says Tom Hopkins. “Yes, there’s a lot of depressing stuff, but sometimes it goes the other way too. And, while I’m here, thanks to you and the rest of the MBM/OBO team for another excellent year, you all enrich my enjoyment of so many sports. A lovely Christmas and new year to all.”

That’s a very good point too. It’s a confusing time to be alive. And thanks for the note – MBMs are probably 95 per cent fun, 5 per cent misery. In 2023, that’s a pretty good ratio.

86 min: Double substitution for Wolves Hugo Bueno and Matt Doherty replace Matheus Cunha and Rayan Ait-Nouri. The Christmas bus has been parked.

84 min A half chance for Nkunku, who heads a dropping ball straight at Sa from eight yards. Hwang is alone on the halfway line, no Chelsea defenders anywhere him – Jose Sa spots him but then boots the ball straight out of play. It’s rare to say that a goalkeeper has missed a great chance but that’s kind of what Jose Sa kind did then.

83 min If it stays like this Wolves will be level on points with Chelsea. But that is an increasingly big if: after good play from Palmer, Madueke’s cross is desperately cleared at the near post with Nkunku lurking.

82 min Wolves break and Doyle wobbles a good shot across goal from 25 yards. Petrovic dives to his right to push it away two-handed.

79 min: Triple substitution for Chelsea Benoit Badiashile, Noni Madueke and Ian Maatsen replace Colwill, Gusto and Jackson.

I thought Lavia was coming on; I was wrong.

78 min Romeo Lavia, one of Chelsea’s big summer signings, is about to come off the bench to make his debut.

76 min Wolves break five on four, with no other Chelsea players in a hurry to get back, but Doyle’s cross is too close to Petrovic.

76 min Cunha hits the side netting with a snapshot after yet another defensive mistake, this time from Gusto.

75 min: Wolves substitution Tommy Doyle replaces Pablo Sarabia, whose erudite left foot made the goal.

74 min Nkunku, such a smooth and progressive player, releases Mudryk on the left. He goes backwards with a dodgy ball to Gallagher, who is penalised for a foul on Hwang.

72 min Mudryk’s cross is put behind by Kilman. Chelsea take the corner quickly; Gusto’s long-range shot is blocked.

70 min: Wolves substitution Santiago Bueno replaces Craig Dawson.

70 min They’re calling for a stretcher now. Dawson is sitting up, so there are no concerns about him being unconscious, but it could be a serious injury nonetheless.

69 min While we wait, have a look at Mario Lemina’s goal.

68 min Dawson is still down. I’m not sure whether he tweaked something as he stretched or collided with Jose Sa.

67 min “Merry Christmas Rob, and all MBMers!” says Simon McMahon. “Biggest football story of the year is undoubtedly Dundee United’s relegation from the Scottish Premier Scotland qualifying for a second Euro finals in a row, and with two games to spare. Biggest story of next year would be if we finally manage to get out of our group in Germany. That’d be like us winning the tournament, as opposed to actually winning the tournament, which is what I suspect England might do…”

66 min: Great block by Dawson! It’s all Chelsea now. Nkunku and Palmer calmly open Wolves up on the edge of the area, with the latter finding Sterling in space to the right. He takes a touch and drills a low shot that is heroically blocked by Dawson, sliding hin front of Jose Sa in the six-yard box.

Dawson has injured himself in the process and may have to go off.

64 min Now Cunha is booked for dissent.

63 min: Off the line by Tote! Palmer’s cross-shot from the left side of the area hits a defender and loops up in the air. Sa goes after the loose ball, gets nowhere near it and is struggling to get back on his line when Nkunku flicks a shot towards goal from 10 yards. Tote gets back to just – and I mean just – clear it off the line.

63 min Joao Gomes shoots straight at Petrovic from distance. Palmer is indeed playing in central midfield now, with Mudryk on the left, Sterling on the right and Nkunku behind Jackson.

61 min Sterling goes down in the area after a clumsy challenge from the falling Tote – but the referee gives a foul against Sterling. It’s a tough one to call, and even tougher to overturn, so VAR checkcompletes it pretty quickly.

Jackson is booked for dissent.

60 min Gusto is booked for kicking the ball away.

60 min “Fair point about the Saudi sportswashing threatening to drown football,” says Charles Antaki, “but for a graphic moment that crystallised a long-standing evil, Rubiales’ kiss is a contender for the photo-story of 2023.”

Actually, yes, I think you’re right. The dispiriting thing is that all the biggest stories have generally been a) off the field and b) well, dispiriting.

59 min: Chelsea substitutions Mykhailo Mudryk and Christopher Nkunku replace Lesley Ugochukwu and Armando Broja. No idea what that means in terms of Chelsea’s shape; Palmer may go back into central midfield.

Nkunku is making a belated Premier League debut.

58 min “As I sit here in America, I wonder what all the fuss is about concerning a Christmas Eve match,” writes Joe Pearson. “The NBA has been playing on Christmas Day for almost 80 years! Tomorrow there will be five nationally televised games, back to back, starting at noon. And no one seems to think that is an affront to the natural order of things. Of course, there really is no such thing as traveling fans in the NBA, so what do I know?”

Christmas Day football was the norm in England until the late 1950s/early 1960s. Brentford tried to revive it in 1983 without success.

57 min Palmer is booked for kicking the ball away (I think), which means he’ll miss the game at home to Crystal Palace on 27 December. Ugochukwu is also down with what seems to be a muscle injury.

55 min Kilman and Semedo leave the ball to each other just outside their own area. Jackson nips between them and runs through on goal – but then he tries to cut back on his right foot and is challenged by Semedo. “That’s a left-foot finish,” says Alan Smith, who knows of what he speaks after winning two Golden Boots back in the day.

55 min A rampant Lemina tries his luck from distance on the left. It’s well struck but close enough for Petrovic to pat the ball down and grab it at the second attempt.

53 min Disasi runs straight past the ball, 35 yards from his own goal, and Cunha gets away down the left. He squares it to Hwang, who backs into Colwill and then falls over. Wolves want a penalty; they won’t get one.

The first challenge from Colwill wasn’t a clear and obvious error but it looked like he may then have pulled Hwang back as he tried to get his feet. I’d like to see it again.

GOAL! Wolves 1-0 Chelsea (Lemina 51)

In the fifth minute of the first half, Mario Lemina celebrated a goal-saving challenge. Now, in the sixth minute of the second half, he’s celebrating a goal!

Sarabia’s wicked inswinging corner landed straight on his head and he guided it neatly into the far corner. Chelsea have looked uncomfortable with those Sarabia corners all afternoon.

Mario Lemina (c) of Wolverhampton Wanderers scores.
Mario Lemina (c) of Wolverhampton Wanderers scores. Photograph: Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

50 min Apologies folks, there was an internal emergency that merits no elaboration. I believe we missed a VAR check for a possible Wolves penalty after the ball touched the hand of Ugochukwu. Nothing doing.

46 min Peep peep!

“What do you think,” says Kurt Perleberg, “is the biggest soccer story of 2023?”

The most seismic is the development of the Saudi Pro League, isn’t it? Man City’s world domination feels like the biggest on-field story, even if it didn’t make as big a splash as it probably should have done.

“Was Sterling put off by Jackson potentially being in an offside position when they were in on goal?” wonders Chris N. “It was very close. Palmer was clearly behind Sterling but I think Jackson’s positioning may have prevented the pass from Sterling.”

Ah, possibly, I didn’t see that as I was desperately entering TYPE FAST mode as he ran through on goal.

Half time: Wolves 0-0 Chelsea

A frustrating half for Chelsea, who are ahead on every metric except the one that matters. Raheem Sterling, who was otherwise the best player on the pitch by a distance, missed the best chance after robbing Joao Gomes to run through one on one. Wolves improved and finished the half strongly, but Gary O’Neil won’t need an xG algorithm to tell him they are fortunate to be level.

45+2 min Palmer’s free-kick is dropped by Sa, who is very relieved to grab the loose ball. He throws it out to Cunha, who then loses it to Palmer 25 yards from goal. He moves infield and smacks a shot that deflects over the bar.

45 min Two minutes.

44 min: Chance for Hwang! That’s Wolves’ best opportunity. Joao Gomes (I think) collected the ball on the right touchline and drove a long ball over the top of the Chelsea defence. Petrovic stayed on his line this time, which allowed Hwang to run away from Thiago and blast a first-time shot over the bar from 16 yards.

44 min Palmer fouls Ait-Nouri on the edge of the D, but Wolves are denied a free-kick because of a hitherto uncalled offside earlier in the move.

42 min Wolves are having a really good spell as half-time approaches. Semedo’s chipped cross is headed away to the edge of the area, where Sarabia hits a decent snapshot that deflects wide off Thiago.

40 min An iffy header from Disasi goes straight to Cunha on the edge of the area. His mishit shot turns into a through ball for Hwang, who can’t quite control an awkward ball on the stretch. The first touch takes him away from goal but he manages to win a corner. It’s headed away at the near post.

38 min Petrovic comes a long way outside his area to beat Semedo to a crossfield pass. Good goalkeeping.

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