Saints beaten by ten-man Wolves

By SFC Media time Sat 11 Feb Saints vs Wolves
Photo by Matt Watson | Kamaldeen Sulemana
Sat 11 Feb 3PM
Premier League
Wolverhampton Wanderers
Alcaraz [24']
Bednarek (og) [72'] Gomes [87']
Ward-Prowse (35') Maitland-Niles (37')
yellow card
Lemina (9') Semedo (23') Aït-Nouri (30') Neto (88')
red card
Lemina (27')
Referee: Jarred Gillett | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 29,751

Southampton were on the receiving end of the unlikeliest of comebacks at St Mary’s, as Wolves scored twice in the final 20 minutes to win a game that looked beyond them.

Saints were cruising in the first half, as Carlos Alcaraz gave the hosts a deserved lead with a low drive on 25 minutes, which was quickly followed by the dismissal of former Saint Mario Lemina for a second bookable offence.

Saints were in control but could not find the second goal to kill off the visitors, who drew level with a freak own goal from Jan Bednarek in the 72nd minute.

Even a draw would have felt like a defeat in the circumstances, but that point was snatched away when substitute João Gomes found the top corner of Gavin Bazunu’s net with three minutes left.

Nathan Jones handed home debuts to his two deadline-day recruits, Kamaldeen Sulemana and Paul Onuachu, who started together as a front two.

There were four changes in total from the team beaten at Brentford last time out, as Alcaraz came into a three-man midfield and Ainsley Maitland-Niles was fielded in an unfamiliar centre-back role.

Out went Ibrahima Diallo, Mohamed Elyounoussi, Samuel Edozie and Ché Adams as Jones shuffled his pack.

The start was encouraging. Kamaldeen’s first act was to race away down the right and cross low, behind Onuachu but invitingly into the path of the onrushing Romain Perraud, whose first-time shot seemed destined for the bottom corner until Craig Dawson intervened.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Paul Onuachu of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. Mary's Stadium on February 11, 2023 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
The towering figure of Paul Onuachu led the line on his home debut

At 6ft 7in, Onuachu is reportedly now the Premier League’s tallest player, and the striker put himself about to good effect early on, towering above the Wolves backline to win a succession of headers.

Former Saint Lemina, making his first return to St Mary’s, was the first player in the book for an ugly challenge on Alcaraz, catching him on the Achilles inside the first ten minutes.

Saints’ response was a firm but fair sliding challenge from Mohammed Salisu on João Moutinho, while Bednarek was off target with a couple of headers from set-pieces, as the hosts maintained their high-octane start.

At the heart of it was Kamaldeen, who left Nélson Semedo in his wake with an explosive run down the left, but couldn’t quite pick out James Ward-Prowse from the eventual cutback.

Then Onuachu made the most of another cross, keeping the ball alive before James Bree found Kamaldeen on the edge of the box, whose snapshot was only a couple of yards wide.

Meanwhile, Wolves were offering nothing by way of attacking threat and the visitors’ frustration was growing, as Semedo joined Lemina in the book for catching Perraud.

Saints just needed a goal to show for their bright start, and it duly arrived midway through the half.

Ward-Prowse’s floated free-kick was won, predictably, by Onuachu and hooked back into the danger zone by Salisu, where Alcaraz tried his luck with an ambitious volley that was blocked but rebounded kindly back to the Argentine.

Again he didn’t hesitate, but this time connected sweetly with a low shot that fizzed past José Sá and nestled just inside the post via the keeper’s right-hand upright.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Carlos Alcaraz of Southampton celebrates after putting his team 1-0 up during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. Mary's Stadium on February 11, 2023 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates his first goal in English football to give Saints a deserved lead

Things went from bad to worse for Wolves when Lemina was on the receiving end of a strong challenge from Roméo Lavia that went unpunished.

When Saints’ subsequent counter-attack was thwarted by Dawson, Lemina’s animated protests earned him a second yellow card from referee Jarred Gillett.

When play resumed, Rayan Aït-Nouri was the recipient of Wolves’ fourth card inside the first half an hour, this time for bringing down Onuachu, who was proving a real handful on his first start, as was Kamaldeen.

The pair could hardly be more different. Kamaldeen is nimble, a livewire with an electrifying turn of pace, who was racking up a sequence of shots, while Onuachu’s game is built on physicality – while not always the smoothest in possession, he was giving centre-backs Dawson and Max Kilman a very difficult time.

Saints’ dominant first half did come to an end with a couple of cards of their own, to Ward-Prowse and Maitland-Niles, surely prompting a reminder from Jones at the interval not to give the fussy Gillett any opportunity to even up the reds.

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui responded with a half-time double change, sacrificing Moutinho and Aït-Nouri, the latter on a booking, as Hugo Bueno and Adama Traoré entered the fray.

Jones would have been only too aware of the importance of scoring the second goal to demoralise Lopetegui’s troops.

Kamaldeen might have had a debut goal when Kilman underhit a backpass after Maitland-Niles stepped out of defence impressively, but the forward did not quite take the ball wide enough to round the advancing Sá, who did superbly well to halt him in his tracks.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11: Romain Perraud of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers at St. Mary's Stadium on February 11, 2023 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Romain Perraud attacks down Saints' left flank

For once Kamaldeen had not managed to get a shot off on that occasion, but from Saints’ next attack he was throwing himself at a Ward-Prowse cross with familiar intent, this time heading past the post.

Saints remained in the ascendancy, and hopes were raised when Maitland-Niles was brought down on the edge of the box, but Ward-Prowse declined the invitation to shoot, presumably given the angle and proximity to the area, and the opportunity passed Saints by.

Wolves had still not posed a threat, but with 20 minutes left Semedo fired a low shot through a crowded penalty area just to remind Saints they were still in the game.

It was a warning that was not heeded. Two minutes later, Traoré stumbled his way into the box and dug out a shot that was initially blocked by Bednarek, but the Polish defender could not sort his feet out and saw the ball ricochet apologetically into the net.

Jones immediately called for Adams and Lyanco, though the pair may have been about to come on regardless, as Onuachu and Perraud made way.

But it was one of Lopetegui's substitutes that decided the outcome. Wolves, injected with fresh impetus, took their chance to win the game when Gomes reacted quickest to his own blocked shot and stroked a calm finish high to Bazunu's left and into the net.

There was still time for one last free-kick, this one more to Ward-Prowse’s liking, left of the D, but again the skipper opted to pass to Salisu, whose close-range effort was shut down by Sá, as Saints were forced to wonder how three points had slipped through their fingers.


Head to Head Stats

Wolverhampton Wanderers
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Gavin Bazunu (GK)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles yellow card
Jan Bednarek
James Bree
replace Samuel Edozie (80′)
Romain Perraud
replace Lyanco (74′)
Mohammed Salisu
James Ward-Prowse (C) yellow card
Roméo Lavia
replace Stuart Armstrong (89′)
Carlos Alcaraz goal
replace Joe Aribo (79′)
Kamaldeen Sulemana
Paul Onuachu
replace Che Adams (74′)
Stuart Armstrong
Adam Armstrong
Joe Aribo
Che Adams
Sékou Mara
Willy Caballero
Samuel Edozie
Theo Walcott

Wolverhampton Wanderers

José Sá (GK)
Nélson Semedo yellow card
replace Jonny (84′)
Craig Dawson
Maximilian Kilman
Rayan Aït-Nouri yellow card
replace Hugo Bueno (45′)
Mario Lemina red card
João Moutinho
replace Adama Traoré (45′)
Matheus Nunes
replace João Gomes (70′) goal
Rúben Neves (C)
Pablo Sarabia
Matheus Cunha
replace Diego Costa (59′)
Daniel Bentley
Hugo Bueno
Raúl Jiménez
Nathan Collins
Diego Costa
Pedro Neto
João Gomes
Adama Traoré
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