World Sports

Wolves 1 – 0 Burnley

Hee-Chan Hwang scored the only goal of the game as Wolves beat Burnley 1-0 at Molineux to bring Vincent Kompany’s side back down to earth.

The Clarets had been five-goal winners over Sheffield United at the weekend but could not find one as Gary O’Neil’s side kept their first clean sheet since August. Hwang’s calm first-half finish was enough to secure the three points that lift Wolves up to 12th.

Burnley have bigger problems. Victory would have lifted them out of the relegation zone but this defeat was partially self-inflicted. Hwang’s goal came after gifting Wolves possession by attempting to pass out from the back, a recurring issues that leaves them 19th.

Player ratings

Wolves: Bentley (8), Kilman (7), Dawson (7), Toti (7), Semedo (8), Lemina (8), Gomes (7), H.Bueno (7), Sarabia (8), Cunha (7), Hwang (8).

Subs used: Bellegarde (6), Traore (n/a), Doherty (n/a).

Burnley: Trafford (5), Vitinho (6), O’Shea (5), Ekdal (6), Taylor (6), Bruun Larsen (5), Brownhill (6), Berge (5), Koleosho (6), Rodriguez (5), Amdouni (6).

Subs used: Gudmundsson (6), Ndayishimiye (7), Redmond (n/a), Odobert (n/a).

Player of the match: Hee-Chan Hwang.

How Wolves won it

Burnley might have been buoyed by that thrashing of the Blades but they set up in a defensive shape, perhaps mindful of their dismal away record, while Wolves were cautious in possession. It made for a slow start despite Pablo Sarabia twice going close.

The biggest chance of the first half – bigger even than the one from which Hwang scored – fell to Jay Rodriguez but Daniel Bentley saved well from close range. More impressive was the Wolves goalkeeper tipping the follow up from Josh Brownhill round the post.

Team news headlines

  • Gary O’Neil made four changes to the Wolves team beaten at Arsenal. Dan Bentley replaced the injured Jose Sa. Mario Lemina and Joao Gomes returned after suspension, while in came Pablo Sarabia.
  • There was one change to the Burnley team that beat Sheffield United so convincingly as Jordan Beyer was suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card in that game. In came Hjalmar Ekdal for his first Premier League start.

Burnley were growing into it but then came a crushing blow. Dara O’Shea’s pass was asking to be pressed and Sander Berge found the ball too hot to handle on a cold night. He surrendered possession and Sarabia’s cool pass fed Matheus Cunha. He found Hwang.

The South Korea international showed impressive composure, taking his time before slotting home for his eighth Premier League goal of the season, seven of them coming at Molineux. It changed the mood and put the onus squarely on Burnley to force the game.

Injury to Luca Koleosho did not help. The star winger was forced off in the first half. Kompany’s team pushed after the interval, earning a series of free-kicks and corners to have nerves jangling for the supporters inside Molineux, but created little of note.

It was Wolves who had the better openings in the second half. Sarabia tested James Trafford with a free-kick. But the second goal was not needed. Their run of two consecutive defeats comes to an end. It is four away defeats in a row in the Premier League for Burnley.

FPL stats – Wolves 1-0 Burnley

  • Goals: Hwang
  • Assists: Cunha
  • Bonus points: Toti (3), Dawson (2), Hwang (2)

O’Neil delight at Hwang form

O’Neil described the results as a “massive win” and one that was a little different to their previous home victories over Manchester City and Tottenham, teams at the other end of the table. “Molineux been treated to some fantastic games recently,” he explained.

“Against top opposition, we have been compact and attacked fast, carried a threat and it has been bouncing. Burnley are different to that. Could we have been better? One hundred per cent but it was always going to be a different feel.” His top scorer made the difference.

Hwang has scored in every game that he has played at Molineux with the exception of one – the win over Tottenham. Only Erling Haaland, Mohamed Salah and Heung-Min Son have outscored the Wolves forward in the Premier League this season. It is some turnaround.

O’Neil called him an “incredible professional” and a “great guy” who “works his socks off” for the team. “The numbers are incredibly impressive. Everything about Channy is impressive. Will he continue to score at this rate? It would be incredible if so,” added O’Neil.

“If the team can keep creating I am always pleased when it falls to Channy. I have a good feeling it will end in the back of net. When the ball comes in, flashing across the box, he is there. He does exactly what you ask and arrives in good areas time and time again.”

Kompany defends style of play

Both managers agreed it was a game decided by the finishing. Rodriguez missed his clear opening, Hwang scored his. “We make an error, they miss,” said O’Neil. “They make an error, we score. The margins are small. The Premier League is tough.”

Kompany said: “It was decided in moments. We had ours and did not take it. And one of the few chances we conceded, we concede a goal.” Some will argue that Burnley passing out from the back was the problem but the Belgian defended his style of play.

“If you line up all the goals we have conceded this season, surely you have seen other types of goals as well? It has not just been about one thing. That has not been the theme. When the other team has had the ball has been when we have really had problems.

“We have had more problems when the other team has had the ball and we were trying to recover it high up the pitch. That is when we were more hurt. If you go through our last five or six games, we have created a lot of chances from [playing out from the back].

“The goal against Arsenal. The penalty against West Ham. If you go through it, nearly all of our chances come from moments like this. The point is more that when you have those chances, you have to take them. This is where we need to step it up.”

Sarabia shows he has role to play

In a game low on quality it was the deft touch of Sarabia that helped capitalise on Burnley’s error in the build-up to Hwang’s winner at Molineux. Sarabia’s previous appearance here was also a dramatic one as he turned it around against Tottenham.

This was not so spectacular but it was a reminder he has characteristics that are otherwise a little lacking in a Wolves team full of endeavour. Finding a place for him in the team has been the challenge because he is not a natural fit for the Premier League.

The Spain international has undoubted pedigree as evidenced by a career that has taken him from Real Madrid to Paris Saint-Germain via Sevilla. At 31, and with pace having always been a weakness, his ability to cover the ground and handle the speed has been an issue.

O’Neil has been more comfortable using him as a second striker than out wide because of his struggles tracking back but it is impressive that Sarabia appears to be trying to make it work rather than flouncing about his diminished status since Julen Lopetegui’s exit.

Against Burnley, he came close to scoring himself on three occasions as well as helping set up the goal. He took the set pieces and had some neat touches. There are more important players at Wolves but O’Neil recognises there is still a place for Sarabia.

“I thought he was excellent. It was obviously a tough decision between him and Jean (Bellegarde) but just seeing Pablo in training the last few weeks, if you do that much, I can’t ignore you, basically. Pablo has managed to put himself right in the front of my mind.

“I am really pleased for him. I know he has been frustrated with the limited time he was on the pitch. I thought he was good for the group tonight, I could see him organising, pushing people, making people come out of their disappointment quickly which is important.”

Wolves’ win in stats

  • Wolves have lost just two of their last 12 Premier League games at Molineux, winning seven and drawing three.
  • Burnley have lost each of their last four Premier League away games – they last had a longer losing run on the road in the division between November 2016 and February 2017 (7).
  • Wolves registered their first clean sheet in their last 12 Premier League games, since a 1-0 over Everton in August.
  • Burnley (7 points) are only the eighth side in Premier League history to accrue seven or fewer points from the first 15 games of a campaign, with all previous seven relegated at the end of the season.
  • Only Erling Haaland (14) Mohamed Salah (10) and Heung-Min Son (9) have scored more goals in the Premier League this season than Hee-Chan Hwang (8).
  • On home soil in the Premier League this season, only Mohamed Salah (8) has netted more than the six goals that Hwang has managed for Wolves.

What’s next?

Wolves are back in action on Saturday as they host Nottingham Forest in the Premier League, kick-off 3pm. The following weekend, they will play live on Sky Sports as they travel to West Ham on Super Sunday on December 17, kick-off 2pm.

Burnley also play again on Saturday as they travel to Brighton in the Premier League, kick-off 3pm. Burnley are also on Sky Sports the following weekend as they host Everton on Saturday Night Football on December 16, kick-off 5.30pm.

#Wolves #Burnley

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