Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves are the heartbeat in resurgent Wolves midfield

Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ruben Neves (left) celebrates scoring his side second goal with fellow scorer Joao Moutinho during the Premier League match at Brentford Community Stadium, London - PA
Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ruben Neves (left) celebrates scoring his side second goal with fellow scorer Joao Moutinho during the Premier League match at Brentford Community Stadium, London - PA

Joao Moutinho stepped out casually in flip flops after the game here in front of a silent night sky - the scene as serene as his performance for Europe-chasing Wolves in their victory.

The bizarre chaos that had raged beforehand, during the game, included an unauthorised drone flying above - forcing the match to be stopped for nearly 20 minutes.

But the second-half, classy composure of Moutinho and his match-winning team mate, Ruben Neves, meant Brentford were the ones who were ultimately sent crashing down to earth.

It followed on from the impressive contribution of the pair - who have attracted interest from other big clubs - in this month’s win at Manchester United.

A question now is how much Wolves need reinforcement in midfield and more goal threat from that area, in this transfer window, so they do not require rare-gem strikes from these two deeper Portuguese playmakers to keep flying high.

Moutinho’s brightness again did not appear to be dimming with age here, though.

He and the increasingly consistent Neves have kept evolving as a heartbeat in Wolves’ midfield.

Pair's decision-making stands out in chaotic game

Jose Sa, Wolves’ goalkeeper, was slowly the last man to leave the field because of the drone - saying “it disrupted the flow of the game, it was a distraction” - and he admitted it was a “pleasure” to have the talents of Moutinho and Neves with him.

“We wanted to continue the game but it’s the rules, we had to wait,” Sa said.

Moutinho and Neves’ decision-making stood out amid the chaos.

Even Brentford’s normally cool and charming head coach, Thomas Frank, was seething at full-time and shown a red card after this tense battle.

Perhaps it was no surprise that Moutinho was the man that the Danish head coach was seen mouthing off at.

The Portuguese is a technician but he is also a 35-year-old with 142 caps for his country; streetwise and a grafter.

After the staccato first half, Moutinho took little time to find rhythm early in the second period. Neves dabbed the ball across for Moutinho, who played a one-two with Nelson Semedo before scoring sublimely.

Moutinho later nudged across a cushioned pass that allowed Neves to take a touch and strike a trademark long-range goal.

Raul Jimenez was out injured here but, with Moutinho and Neves on song, head coach Bruno Lage keeps getting a tune out of his resurgent side.

Wolves soar towards Europe after Ruben Neves seals points on bizarre afternoon at Brentford

Wolves were flying when they arrived here after three wins in a row – and a drone temporarily stopping play did not prevent them adding another victory after classy goals from Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves.

The bizarre event took place in the 28th minute when the unauthorised invader flew above the stadium, forcing the players to leave the field for nearly 20 minutes. After the restart, the players went in for half-time at 4.12pm, with the score 0-0, 72 minutes after kick-off.

Wolves kept on track for European qualification, though, in the second half as Moutinho scored with a swerving and well-struck effort. Neves, back after a positive Covid-19 test, then arrowed in from 22 yards.

The crazy afternoon was completed by Thomas Frank, Brentford head coach, being shown a red card at full time. He was booked after confronting Wolves players after a tense end to the second period – then shown red for being “aggressive” to Peter Bankes, the referee. Frank, who has been close to agreeing a contract extension, apologised. “It’s disappointing, I could not control my emotions there,” he said.

A helicopter was seen patrolling the area during that second half, and there was further drama on the pitch, too.

Wolves’s Toti Gomes was harshly shown a red card for a challenge on Kristoffer Ajer but that was overturned by Var, when the visitors led 1-0. Ivan Toney finished well to level the score, but Wolves had the final say.

Delays at Premier League games have been taking place worryingly frequently recently. The stadium announcer explained at the time of the players’ exit that this delay was due to Premier League rules – then said “blame the drone”.

The safety-first rule gave another unwelcome delay to a game that had already been stopped due to a nasty clash of heads between Brentford team-mates Rico Henry and Mathias Jensen that led to an enforced double concussion substitution. Thankfully, neither needed hospital treatment.

After the drone delay, Wolves enjoyed more of the ball but failed to cut through. They looked relatively safe again and have not conceded a first-half goal in 14 games.

After another delay before the start of the second half, as referee Bankes had his electronic equipment readjusted, the second half kicked off just after 4.30pm.

Wolves struck when Moutinho exchanged passes with Nelson Semedo before unleashing a stunning strike.

Gomes’s yellow card, rather than red, annoyed parts of the crowd further, but it was the right call. Brentford reacted well, equalising as Toney volleyed in from the dangerous Bryan Mbeumo’s delivery.

One of Wolves’s classy performers again stood up to the challenge though, as Neves struck.

Despite late pressure, Wolves protected their lead and almost scored again when substitute Adama Traore’s strike from Neves’s pass was ruled out for offside. “It was a strange first half,” Lage said. “Second half, we came with better personality and ambition.”

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