Raúl Jiménez and Jota give Wolves comeback win over Chelsea

BY APD NEWSDec 06,2018 at 16:08

After claiming on the eve of this game that Chelsea are “not able to fight with Manchester City” for the title Maurizio Sarri was proved absolutely right. Pep Guardiola’s side visit Stamford Bridge on Saturday with the gap between the two clubs now standing at 10 points after Chelsea fell to a second successive defeat that highlighted how much work Sarri has to do to turn Chelsea into credible challengers.

Ahead through Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s early goal, Chelsea had the perfect platform to go on and win the game but badly lost their way against a Wolves side who played with the courage, belief and flair that has been badly missing in recent weeks. The turning point was Raúl Jiménez’s equaliser, just before the hour mark, and from that moment on Chelsea never recovered. “We were suddenly another team,” Sarri said.

A couple of potentially critical refereeing decisions went against Chelsea – Álvaro Morata had strong claims for a penalty turned down and Willian felt he was fouled in the lead-up to Wolves’ second goal – but Sarri was too disappointed with the way his players performed in the final 30 minutes to dwell on either incident.

The Italian, who made five changes to his starting lineup – Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christensen and Cesc Fàbregas all made their first Premier Leaguestarts of the season – questioned his players’ mentality and attitude at the end of a chastening evening. He also suggested that some members of his team have “too much confidence”.

For Wolves, who came into the game on the back of a miserable run of form in which they collected only one point from a possible 18, this felt like a restorative victory. They were unrecognisable from the team that lost meekly to Huddersfield and Cardiff in their previous two matches and it turned into a special evening for one teenager in particular.

Morgan Gibbs-White, aged 18, was outstanding on his full Premier League debut. Showing some lovely touches, the attacking midfielder played with a maturity beyond his years. It was his perfectly weighted pass that set up Jiménez for the equaliser and he thoroughly deserved the standing ovation that followed when he was substituted 20 minutes from time. “I think he is one of the best generation of England players for a long time,” said Nuno Espírito Santo.

The sight of Diogo Jota, who was Wolves’ top scorer last season, wheeling away in delight after converting Matt Doherty’s lovely cross completed a perfect evening for the Midlands club. Jota has not looked quite the same player this season but his first Premier League goal of the campaign should give him a huge lift, with the relief almost tangible as he celebrated in front of the euphoric Wolves supporters.

Chelsea seemed shellshocked after conceding twice in four minutes. They dominated possession – Sarri’s team had 70% of the ball – and registered 17 shots to their opponent’s six, yet only three of those efforts were on target and that says much about the absence of a cutting edge whenever they attacked.

The visitors’ opening goal owed much to good fortune. Loftus-Cheek picked up possession on the left from Eden Hazard and hit a curling right-foot shot that was unlikely to trouble Rui Patrício much until Conor Coady got in the way. Stooping to try to block the ball, the Wolves defender succeeded only in heading it beyond his own keeper and inside the near post. The goal was still credited to Loftus-Cheek, who has now scored six times in his last seven club appearances.

Patrício produced an excellent save to tip Willian’s free-kick on to the bar and over and the Brazilian was denied again later in the first half when Ryan Bennett made a superbly timed tackle. Yet Wolves also signalled their intent during that opening period, especially down the left flank , where Rúben Vinagre delivered some dangerous crosses. Jiménez headed one over the bar and another ended up at the feet of Gibbs-White only for Fàbregas, who came into the Chelsea team for Jorginho, to make a crucial last-ditch tackle.

Then came that penalty appeal straight after the restart, when Willy Boly appeared to swipe Morata’s feet from under him as he tried to touch in an inviting Loftus-Cheek cross. The significance of that moment became clear little more than 10 minutes later, when Jiménez ran on to Gibbs-White’s pass and drilled a low shot that seemed almost to go through Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Chelsea goal.

In the blink of an eye Wolves had a second after João Moutinho dispossessed Willian deep inside the Chelsea half before releasing Doherty on the right. Jota dispatched the Irishman’s cross and Wolves were in dreamland.

(THE GIARDIAN)

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