Premier League
Wolves1Fulham0

Wolves 1-0 Fulham: Hosts close in on seventh-placed finish through Leander Dendoncker's winner

Leander Dendoncker
Leander Dendoncker's fine volley saw Wolves finally break down Fulham

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo says it would be "stupid" to think about European football despite his side moving a step closer to a seventh-placed Premier League finish and potentially a Europa League spot next season with victory over Fulham.

After a largely frustrating 75 minutes for the hosts at Molineux, Joao Moutinho played in Matt Doherty down the right for the defender to curl in a fine cross that Leander Dendoncker emphatically volleyed inside the near post.

Wolves will be guaranteed to finish seventh in their first season after promotion if Leicester fail to beat Premier League leaders Manchester City on Monday.

If Nuno's side do secure seventh and City subsequently beat Watford in the FA Cup final, then Wolves will land a Europa League place, returning to Europe after a 39-year wait.

"The FA Cup still has to be played, it would be stupid to think about Europe," said Nuno.

"It's nothing to do with the table, it's the how - the how is much more important.

"It started two years ago and we will never forget where we came from."

Superb Wolves forward Diogo Jota went close four times, twice sliding wide and twice drawing fine saves from Fulham keeper Sergio Rico, while Dendoncker also hit the bar with a header.

The already-relegated visitors should have taken the lead on 62 minutes but Aleksandar Mitrovic scooped his first-time effort over the bar after he was picked out in the middle by Ryan Sessegnon.

Fulham midfielder Harvey Elliott became the youngest ever Premier League player at 16 years and 30 days by coming on in the 88th minute.

Dendoncker ensures rousing end to home finale

Wolves fans wear masks of Mexican WWE wrestler Sin Cara
Wolves fans wore the mask of Mexican WWE wrestler Sin Cara, who was at Molineux to support friend Raul Jimenez

Wolves have oddly had problems against struggling sides this season, having lost six of their 11 previous matches against teams in the bottom six heading into that round of fixtures.

For long periods of this game, it looked like a compact but limited Fulham would add a goalless draw to that record but Wolves were determined not to let their last home game be a disappointment after a season of thrilling matches at Molinuex.

Jota weaved his way past Fulham defenders all afternoon, picking up a yellow card for simulation early on, but more often drawing fouls and getting his team surging forward on the counter-attack.

In the first half, a brilliant flick from Raul Jimenez led to Jota forcing Rico to palm it round corner, before he got past his man and slid wide across goal with his left foot.

He similarly slipped a left-footed effort beyond the far post after the break and then saw a brilliant volley pushed onto the bar by Rico as the Portuguese ultimately failed to get the goal his performance deserved.

Doherty then lashed a superb strike high into the net but was rightly called offside when Jonny's initial shot was deflected into his path.

But Dendoncker finally broke through. Having seen his header from a corner rebound off the bar in the first half, the Belgium midfielder showed excellent technique to volley the ball from just behind his body and edge Wolves towards the highest finish for a promoted side since Ipswich came fifth in 2000-01.

Fulham look to the future

Media playback is not supported on this device

Parker 'proud' of Fulham performance despite loss

Defeat ended a run of three successive victories for Fulham after their relegation was confirmed last month but there were again some promising signs from caretaker boss Scott Parker's side.

They were comfortable in possession, albeit rarely incisive around Wolves' area, their defenders made some fine covering tackles and Rico impressed in goal, also denying Doherty's header at the near post and pushing away Ruben Neves' 25-yard drive.

The visitors could even have had a club record fourth Premier League win in a row had Mitrovic not miscued his strike when free in the area after fine work from Sessegnon down the right, while Joe Bryan also drew a decent save from Rui Patricio.

Ultimately this match just reinforced the gap between these two promoted sides, with Wolves plotting how they might even break into the top six and Fulham facing another tough task to return straight away from the Championship.

And the Cottagers offered a brief nod to that future, bringing on Elliott, who beat the previous Premier League mark of former Fulham defender Matthew Briggs.

Briggs was 16 years and 68 days when he played against Middlesbrough in May 2007.

Man of the match - Diogo Jota (Wolves)

Wolves forward Diogo Jota nips round Fulham defender Maxime Le Marchand
Diogo Jota slalomed past numerous defenders, created chances and went close four times in an entertaining display

'An important win' - reaction

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo told BBC Sport: "This is an important win, it was important to the atmosphere at Molineux. Everyone expected us to win but it was difficult because we faced a tough team.

"But I'm really pleased with the way we finished the season at home, the fans have been fantastic this season.

"We had to be focused, organised and disciplined because Fulham had chances also, it was a tight game."

Media playback is not supported on this device

Nuno Espírito Santo delighted by 'amazing' Wolves support

Fulham caretaker manager Scott Parker told BBC Sport: "We are a bit disappointed. We knew the task ahead of us. We had a game plan that we worked hard on this week. We wanted to take the sting out of Wolves.

"It's a tough place to come here but I felt we dominated the ball today and for us that's the best way to defend. We have conceded one goal in four now and that's down to the players.

"Our main aim now is next year and the task ahead, it's a big task and we know what we want to do."

Fulham's troubles on the road - stats

  • Wolves have won 57 points in the Premier League this season, the most by a newly promoted side since Ipswich Town in 2000-01 (66 points).
  • Fulham have lost 25 Premier League games this season, the most by a newly promoted side since Derby County in 2007-08 (29 defeats).
  • No player has more assists for Wolves in all competitions this season than Matt Doherty (eight).
  • This was Fulham's 16th away Premier League defeat of the season - only Burnley in 2009-10 have lost more in a single season (17).
  • Wolves named their 14th unchanged Premier League starting XI this season - no side has done so more often (also Burnley on 14).

What's next?

Wolves are away at Liverpool on the final day of the season on Sunday, 12 May, while Fulham host Newcastle, with both matches at 15:00 BST.

Line-ups

Wolves

  • 11Rui PatrícioSubstituted forNorrisat 90+3'minutes
  • 5Bennett
  • 16Coady
  • 15BolySubstituted forKilmanat 90+3'minutes
  • 2Doherty
  • 32Dendoncker
  • 8Neves
  • 28João Moutinho
  • 19Castro OttoSubstituted forVinagreat 90+4'minutes
  • 9Jiménez
  • 18JotaBooked at 7mins

Substitutes

  • 7Cavaleiro
  • 10Hélder Costa
  • 17Gibbs-White
  • 29Vinagre
  • 31Norris
  • 37Traoré
  • 49Kilman

Fulham

  • 25Rico
  • 3R SessegnonSubstituted forAyitéat 82'minutes
  • 22ChristieBooked at 73mins
  • 20Le MarchandBooked at 32mins
  • 13Ream
  • 23Bryan
  • 10Cairney
  • 5ChambersBooked at 22mins
  • 29Zambo AnguissaSubstituted forElliottat 88'minutes
  • 9Mitrovic
  • 12Babel

Substitutes

  • 7Kebano
  • 11Ayité
  • 16Nordtveit
  • 26Mawson
  • 31Fabri
  • 43S Sessegnon
  • 56Elliott
Referee:
Jonathan Moss
Attendance:
30,456

Match Stats

Home TeamWolvesAway TeamFulham
Possession
Home39%
Away61%
Shots
Home19
Away6
Shots on Target
Home6
Away2
Corners
Home7
Away1
Fouls
Home10
Away15

Live Text

Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Fulham 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Fulham 0.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Vinagre replaces Jonny.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Will Norris replaces Rui Patrício.

Substitution

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Max Kilman replaces Willy Boly.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Calum Chambers.

Foul by Maxime Le Marchand (Fulham).

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham).

Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Joe Bryan (Fulham) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by João Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Hand ball by Ryan Babel (Fulham).

Substitution

Substitution, Fulham. Harvey Elliott replaces André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

Attempt blocked. Cyrus Christie (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Floyd Ayité.

Attempt missed. Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by João Moutinho.

Foul by Tim Ream (Fulham).

Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Substitution

Substitution, Fulham. Floyd Ayité replaces Ryan Sessegnon.

Hand ball by Ryan Babel (Fulham).

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Sergio Rico.

Attempt saved. Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

Foul by Maxime Le Marchand (Fulham).

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Goal!

Goal! Wolverhampton Wanderers 1, Fulham 0. Leander Dendoncker (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Matt Doherty.

Attempt missed. Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers) with an attempt from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by João Moutinho with a cross following a set piece situation.

Booking

Cyrus Christie (Fulham) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Cyrus Christie (Fulham).

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Offside, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Jonny tries a through ball, but Willy Boly is caught offside.

Attempt blocked. Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Foul by André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Fulham).

Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Ryan Sessegnon (Fulham).

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Attempt missed. Tom Cairney (Fulham) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the left side of the six yard box is too high. Assisted by João Moutinho with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Conceded by Sergio Rico.

goal

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool37297187226594
2Man City36302490226892
3Tottenham372311365372870
4Chelsea36208860392168
5Arsenal362061069492066
6Man Utd36198964511365
7Wolves37169124744357
8Everton37158145244853
9Leicester36156155147451
10Watford36148145152-150
11West Ham37147164854-649
12Crystal Palace37137174650-446
13Bournemouth37136185365-1245
14Newcastle37119173848-1042
15Burnley37117194465-2140
16Southampton37911174464-2038
17Brighton3698193355-2235
18Cardiff3794243269-3731
19Fulham3775253477-4326
20Huddersfield3635282074-5414
View full Premier League table

Top Stories