Wolves 2 Leicester 1
Dreaming is for free, as someone round these parts once said, and Daniel Podence’s second half winner means Wolves are now two points behind fifth place in the Premier League with two games in hand and both Arsenal and West Ham United, the two teams immediately above them, to play away this coming week.
The Molineux die-hards were blasting out their song about following the Wanderers around Europe again even as Leicester piled on the pressure in the closing stages, Kasper Schmeichel coming up for a corner. But Wolves, having taken the lead through Rúben Neves before Ademola Lookman equalized, held on to reclaim seventh place. No team has won more Premier League games in 2022 than Wolves and, crucially, they have only lost once in the 52 league games in which they have taken the lead since winning promotion four years ago.
Leicester played well enough, and created enough chances to have won, but they are now winless in six domestic matches, their worst run since the latter days of Claude Puel’s reign three years ago.
After all their recent woes, Leicester soon found themselves tasked with achieving something no team have managed against Wolves this season: winning after trailing. On the 12 previous occasions they had taken the lead, Bruno Lage’s team had won 11 times and drawn once.
So Neves’ superb opener in the ninth minute gave Wolves the kind of platform they relish. The Portugal playmaker, in the form of his life, pinged a sweet crossfield pass out to Podence. When his cross was unconvincingly cleared by Daniel Amartey and Leander Dendoncker headed the ball back inside, Raúl Jiménez was allowed time to tee up Neves whose unerring first-time shot from just outside the penalty area Schmeichel could only help on into the corner of the net.
This was Wolves’ first goal against Leicester in six Premier League meetings and, with the fifth best defensive record in Europe’s top five league, Leicester looked there for the taking at this stage.
Yet apart from the visitors suffering from the heebie-jeebies every time Wolves had a corner, Leicester thoroughly deserved to be level by half-time. The number of dangerous balls they fed across the face of goal was a constant source of concern for the home team, who were guilty of sitting too deep.
Lookman fed Marc Albrighton whose low centre eluded José Sá and needed clearing by Conor Coady, sliding in on the wet surface. Sá parried rasping efforts from Youri Tielemans and Patson Daka and, while Rayan Ait-Nouri almost made it 2-0 when he slammed wide an effort after brilliant work by Podence down the left, Leicester battled their way back to parity.
There were five yellow cards flashed in the nine minutes just before the equaliser, with neither team willing to hold back despite a waterslide of a pitch made extremely zippy by a pre-match deluge of biblical proportions.
The goal came from exactly the source Leicester had been mining since going behind. Tielemans played an exquisite through ball in between Romain Saïss and Ait-Nouri and Albrighton played the perfect low cross again, for Lookman to speed in and convert his sixth goal of the season. It was only the second time in 16 games Wolves had conceded a first half goal.
Brendan Rodgers was celebrating in the 62nd minute so much did it appear Leicester had taken the lead. Again the danger came from out wide, Lookman crossing from the left behind the backtracking Wolves defence for Tielemans to take the ideal first touch back inside only to then curl his left-footed shot just over.
Yet it was when Rodgers’ team were clearly on top that Wolves regained the lead midway through the second half. For once when a Leicester attack broke down, Wolves had players the offensive side of the ball and Ait-Nouri did well to tease Ricardo Pereira to make inroads down the left.
Dendoncker squared the ball along the edge of the penalty area where Podence, second touch, shotlow into the bottom corner. There was a VAR delay to check that Schmeichel’s view had not been compromised by Jiménez’s presence before Wolves could complete their celebrations which were enhanced when Pedro Neto came on for the final 10 minutes after a year out with a broken kneecap.