Wolves 3-0 Norwich City - Jota brace sinks underperforming Canaries at Molineux
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s hopes of Premier League survival took another major hit at Molineux as they were heavily beaten 3-0 by high-flying Wolverhampton Wanderers.
A brace from the influential Diego Jota inside 30 minutes inflicted misery onto the Canaries, who never recovered following those strikes.
Raul Jimenez added the third after tapping in from Jota's strike that rebounded off the post to secure the three points for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.
The Wolves boss made one change to his XI, with the lively Adama Traore dropped to bench. That meant Leander Dendoncker made the starting line-up, with the Belgian joining Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho in midfield.
Daniel Farke was forced into two changes following more defensive injury woe. Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis replaced Christoph Zimmermann and Sam Byram who were ruled out prior to the game.
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Emi Buendia's omission from the starting line-up was surprisingly given the manner in which Farke appeared to throw down the gauntlet to the Argentine in his pre-match press conference on Friday.
City began the game brightly and had an early opportunity to take the lead after Max Aarons' hopeful ball forward was collected by Teemu Pukki.
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The Finn drove into the box before teeing up Lukas Rupp in the area, but he got caught in two minds over whether to shoot or find Todd Cantwell and was, eventually, dispossessed.
It was the Canaries dominating possession in the opening exchanges, and a neat exchange between Kenny McLean and Jamal Lewis saw the Scot receive the ball before hitting the byline to cross.
Pukki was first to the ball but his poked effort lacked power and was collected easily by Rui Patricio.
The early dominance from City continued when Godfrey knocked a ball into the channel for Pukki to chase, the Finn won the foot race before turning as he sought attacking assistance.
McLean was one of the supporting runners and Pukki laid off the ball for the Scot to strike from outside the area. His fiercely struck shot was held well by Patricio.
City were guilty of overplaying in their own third and Godfrey gifted possession back to Wolves inside the Canaries half. Romain Saiss found Jota with his pass and the Portuguese forward danced his way into the penalty area.
Jota could have unleashed an early shot but opted to attempt to find Jimenez in space, only for Lewis to recover well and clear.
Despite City's early dominance, it was the hosts who took the lead courtesy of Jota.
Ruben Neves bundled his way past Lewis before Doherty turned Hanley and found Jota. He rounded Godfrey with ease before drilling the effort into the net.
VAR checked for a potential handball by Doherty as he turned towards goal, only for replays to show the ball clearly deflected off his hip.
Buoyed by that strike, Wolves looked for a second with Jota once again the major protagonist.
The striker turned a sluggish looking Godfrey before firing a cross into the box, fortunately for City, Alex Tettey was there to avert the danger.
Wolves doubled their lead after 30 minutes, when a short corner was recycled to Jonny.
His whipped cross into the box was kept alive by Jimenez and his flick-on found Saiss. The Frenchman delivered a cross, which was turned home by Jota, who was left to tap into an empty net.
City were on the ropes and Wolves continued to press for goals. This time, it was Neves, who struck a free-kick beautifully towards goal, only for Krul to save at full stretch and push behind for a corner.
The Canaries had their keeper to thank for preventing Wolves from extending their lead as another Neves free-kick deflected towards goal, only for the Dutch goalkeeper to change direction before pushing onto the bar.
Ponderous in possession, City lacked the necessary tools to carve through Wolves' defensive shape. The hosts could simply be patient and wait for City to lose possession.
That proved to be the formula for the third Wolves goal, with Jota at the heart of the attack again.
McLean gifted the ball to the hosts and the Portuguese forward drove towards City's defence. His strike at goal cannoned off the post and into the path of Jimenez to score.
Buendia's introduction saw a change of formation for City, with Farke deploying a 3-5-2 in order to match the host's system and attempt to alter City's work in possession.
Wolves were to end the game with a flurry of chances, as Traore went close with a long ranged effort.
Ultimately, City were short of the required quality to impact the fixture.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-5-2): Patricio; Boly, Coady (cap), Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Neves, Jonny (Vinagre, 80); Jota (Neto, 63), Jimenez (Traore, 71). Subs not used: Ruddy, Podence, Gibbs-White, Kilman.
- Bookings: Jimenez, Coady
- Goals: Jota 19, 30 Jimenez 50
- Norwich City (4-2-3-1): Krul; Aarons, Hanley (cap), Godfrey, Lewis; McLean, Tettey; Rupp (Buendia, 58), Duda (Drmic, 59), Cantwell (Stiepermann, 84); Pukki. Subs not used: Fahrmann, Vrancic, Trybull, Idah.
- Bookings: Aarons, Godfrey, Buendia
- Added on time: 1 min/ 5 mins
- Attendance: 31,046
- Referee: Chris Kavanagh
- VAR: Michael Oliver