Tottenham leapfrogged Arsenal to move into the top four with a stirring win at Molineux, consigning their newly promoted opponents to a third consecutive defeat, though by coming back from three goals down to have their visitors hanging on grimly at the end, Wolves made a notable contribution to a pulsating game.
If the Premier League is beginning to look a tougher prospect than it did a month or so ago for Nuno Espírito Santo’s side there is no need to panic just yet. Wolves will not have to face opponents of Spurs’ quality every week, even if Arsenal are up next. They still play a slick brand of football and they were slightly unlucky at times in this game, notably when peppering the Spurs goal at the start of the second half and seeing a goal chalked off for a questionable offside at the close of the first.
Spurs began without Dele Alli and had to reorganise further when Mousa Dembélé injured himself in a second minute tackle on Helder Costa but, with Harry Winks playing in a deeper role than first envisaged, they adapted well and could havetaken the lead even before Erik Lamela opened the scoring. Wolves had already had a couple of goal attempts by then, but Raúl Jiménez’s shot over the bar was speculative, from distance, and Matt Doherty finished a promising run with a tame effort that virtually amounted to a pass back to Hugo Lloris. The visitors’ first real effort of the evening had a touch of quality about it, Harry Kane running on to a superbly weighted pass from Lucas Moura and predictably managing to send in a shot on target, only to see Rui Patricio keep it out with a one-handed save.
However, the Wolves goalkeeper was unable to come to his side’s rescue when Lamela struck just before the half hour, the Spurs forward finding the net with a shot through Patricio’s legs. There may have been a touch of luck about the return pass from Son Heung-min that led to the goal, in that Kieran Trippier on the right touchline seemed the intended target, but when Lamela controlled the ball on his chest to stride into the box there was never any doubt he was going to take full advantage.
Spurs doubled their lead within three minutes and this time Trippier was involved, sending over a cross from the right that Lucas, who had started the move, headed confidently past Patricio from the six-yard line. Willy Boly headed wide just before the interval as Wolves tried to get back into the game, which they might have done had Jiménez not been flagged for offside when stabbing a shot past Lloris. The striker himself was not offside, and if the decision was given against Costa the margin must have been incredibly tight.
Wolves hit Spurs with everything they had when the second half began, only to find Lloris in inspired form. A terrific reverse pass from Costa to send Jiménez clear ought to have resulted in a goal, but the striker’s shot was beaten out and when Costa attempted to follow up he slipped in the act of shooting. Costa’s next effort was denied on the goal line by Lloris’s outstretched leg, and when Ruben Neves thundered in a shot through a crowd of players the goalkeeper was able to get down to tip it round a post.
Spurs’ response to being put under such pressure was simply to bring on Christian Eriksen to restore midfield control. Within four minutes the game looked safe, Kane beating Patricio at the second attempt after the effective Lamela had cut back from the right. Neves was able to make the scoreline more respectable from the spot after Juan Foyth fouled Jiménez following a mistake by Trippier, but they were not satisfied with mere consolation. Persistent harrying forced Foyth into another mistake, this time putting an arm across Jonny Otto for Jiménez to put away the penalty. It was hard in the closing stages to recall that Kane might have had a hat-trick but for two outstanding second half stops by Patricio. With Davinson Sánchez on as extra defensive insurance Spurs saw out the game, but only just. Better finishing by Costa when one on one with Lloris near the end would have earned Wolves a deserved point. When the whistle finally went one or two players in white shirts dropped to the ground with relief.