Controversial penalty helps Wolves fight back to beat Southampton

Nick Purewal, PA
·3-min read

Wolves capitalised on a hotly-disputed penalty to leapfrog Southampton in the Premier League table with a 2-1 win at St Mary’s Stadium.

Ruben Neves converted the contested spot-kick that transformed the south coast clash, after Ryan Bertrand was controversially punished for handball.

Nelson Semedo’s rasping effort struck Bertrand’s hand as his back was turned attempting a block at point-blank range, but still the penalty was awarded.

Neves’ fourth league goal of the season cancelled out Danny Ings’ stunning first-half volley, floored the furious Saints and set Wolves en route to a first win in three matches.

Pedro Neto pirouetted around Jannik Vestergaard before slotting the winner, to condemn Saints to a sixth-straight Premier League loss.

Wolves avenged Southampton’s 2-0 FA Cup win at Molineux from Thursday, with the penalty transforming the visitors from a disjointed rabble into an energised unit.

For the second time in as many months, Southampton felled a Premier League rival in the cup only to lose a quick-fire return match in the top flight.

Just as Saints saw off Arsenal in the cup only to lose to the Gunners three days later, so too here did Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men end up on the receiving end of some rapid revenge.

Saints manager Hasenhuttl was particularly incensed about Wolves’ penalty, launching an extended tirade at the fourth official.

Pedro Neto
Pedro Neto scored the winner (Andy Rain/PA)

The taskmaster Austrian had hoped the cup win at Wolves would prove the catalyst for a return to league form, but instead Saints’ wait to put that 9-0 hammering at Manchester United fully to bed goes on.

Wolves have not been without their troubles either, and manager Nuno Espirito Santo will cling to this comeback win as the green shoots of a desperately craved resurgence.

The Midlanders’ win saw Wolves jump over Southampton into 12th place in the league table, with clashes against Leeds, Newcastle and Aston Villa to come.

Saints controlled the entirety of the first half, with Wolves struggling on both sides of the ball.

Wolves had just one chance before the break, and that was when Willian Jose headed wildly high and wide from Neto’s free-kick.

Danny Ings scores
Danny Ings’ opener was spectacular (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Nathan Redmond saw a testing effort well saved as Saints started to press, with Takumi Minamino well involved with a smart flicked header to start the move.

Ings then produced the moment of the half, lashing home Stuart Armstrong’s neat cross to thunder the hosts into the lead.

Armstrong capitalised on lax Wolves coverage to canter down the left, check his run at the byline and then deliver a teasing cross for Ings.

The former Liverpool frontman latched onto the smart centre and did the rest with an eye-catching finish.

Saints looked well set in the second-half, only for Wolves to benefit hugely from that questionable penalty call.

Ruben Neves
Ruben Neves made no mistake from the spot (Richard Heathcote/PA)

Semedo’s drive in the area struck Bertrand’s hands, but while the Saints defender’s back was entirely turned.

Referee Graham Scott had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, much to the fury of Saints boss Hasenhuttl, who let the officials know his feelings in no uncertain terms.

Neves dispatched a cool penalty to put Wolves level at 1-1, with the visitors almost as stunned to have scored as Saints were that the penalty was awarded.

Wolves were transformed by the penalty and made that reinvigoration count when Neto whipped home to put the visitors 2-1 ahead.

Neto spun around the statuesque Vestergaard, opened up his body and slipped the ball past Alex McCarthy.