Southampton suffered their first defeat in seven matches, breaking their recent winter victory streak as Wolves staged a stunning second-half comeback to win 3-2 at St Mary’s.
Saints boss Ralph Hasenhuttl had nominated the same winning team lineup from Leicester last Saturday in hope of securing a third successive league victory against a Wolves side which had yet to win a game in the new year.
The home team looked set in continue their fine run of form when in the 15th minute, Jan Bednarek produced a side-footed volley at the far post to score for the first time since April 2018 after the Wolves defence failed to deal with James Ward Prowse’s right-sided free kick. 20 minutes later, the Saints doubled their lead as Shane Long ended his own goal-scoring drought after heading in a superb Cedric Soares cross for his first goal of the season.
Southampton threatened again shortly after the break as Long headed against the base of the post following an accurate cross from Ryan Bertrand but only a minute later, Wolves were back in the game. Adama Traore showed tremendous skill on the right-hand side to avoid Bednarek’s tackle and pick out Pedro Neto who turned the Southampton defenders before slotting the ball into the corner of the net from 10 yards out.
The goal marked a turn in fortune and momentum for the away side as with 65 minutes played, Wolves were awarded a penalty after VAR deemed Jack Stephens had brought down Jonny in the box. Referee Darren England, overseeing his first game in the top-flight, had originally pointed for a corner but was forced to overturn his decision after a lengthy delay. Up stepped Raul Jimenez who showed no nerves in converting the penalty into the bottom right corner, sending Alex McCarthy the opposite way.
Southampton responded well after the equaliser and came close to reclaiming the lead when a thunderbolt from Nathan Redmond skimmed the crossbar from 20 yards. However, that was a rare second-half chance for Hasenhuttl’s men who struggled to contain Wolves’ attacking threat as the game went on.
With 14 minutes left to play, Wolves completed their comeback as Traore raced in behind Saints’ defense and set up Jimenez, who emphatically hit a low first-time shot past McCarthy for his second goal of the game and 10th this season.
Sofiane Boufal was brought on immediately after the goal as the Saints continued to chase down a result which would preserve their unbeaten streak. Stephens and Boufal both had chances to level proceedings in injury time, but Wolves managed to hold on to record their first win in 6 matches and leapfrog Sheffield United to move into the Europa League places. Defeat for Southampton was their first since mid-December, ending their perfect start to 2020.
Ralph Hasenhuttl spoke to BBC after the game:
As everybody sees, we had a good first half and a not-so-good second half. The opponent showed how you can turn the table with a few lucky moments, and I think we had a chance to score the third goal, when we were a little bit unlucky with the Long header on to the post.
Congratulations to Wolves – they showed what a strong mentality they have, to turn such a game, and we must learn from this lesson.
Southampton next travel to Selhurst Park to face Crystal Palace on Tuesday, whilst Wolves host Premier League leaders Liverpool on Thursday.