Match ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Norwich City 0.
Wolves 3-0 Norwich City: Diogo Jota scoring run continues in convincing win
Diogo Jota made it five goals in two games as Wolves reignited their chase for a Champions League spot with victory against basement side Norwich.
The Portuguese forward was at his lethal best in recording a hat-trick in the 4-0 Europa League victory over Espanyol on Thursday and he took just 19 minutes to add to his tally for the season.
Initially it seemed Matt Doherty's assist would be ruled out for handball but replays showed that the ball bounced against his stomach. When the chance was presented to Jota he turned in one movement and struck a low shot through the legs of Tim Krul.
Jota's second was also reviewed by VAR. The striker was offside when the ball was initially played into the area but drifted back onside to tap in Romain Saiss' volleyed cross.
He came close to a second successive hat-trick as Wolves made it 3-0 soon after the break. His low strike thundered off the post but the loose ball was turned in by Raul Jimenez.
Norwich's brightest spell came in the opening 10 minutes when Teemu Pukki managed a shot at the near post before Kenny McLean's arrow of a strike from 20 yards was plucked out of the air by Rui Patricio.
Canaries boss Daniel Farke might be aggrieved that Wolves full-back Jonny was not punished for stepping on the leg of Max Aarons, who was on the ground following a challenge.
However, of more concern was how his side lost their shape so soon after Wolves scored their opener. They remain seven points adrift of safety with only 11 games remaining.
Wolves, on the other hand, are now two points shy of fifth - which could potentially become a Champions League spot - and five behind fourth-place Chelsea.
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Jota and Jimenez back on song
Nuno Espirito Santo's men had only recorded one win in their past seven league games coming into the match, although there were signs his side might have turned a corner during the impressive win over Espanyol.
Jota was the star that evening, taking his tally to nine in the competition this season. However, in the league he had only managed three before Sunday.
But the 23-year-old, who initially joined the club on loan in 2017 when they were in the Championship, seems to have rediscovered his best form - and at the perfect time for Wolves as they push for their best-ever finish in the Premier League.
Nuno will also be hoping Jimenez's first goal in four matches will also send him on a run. The Mexican forward has a great on-field understanding with Jota, and his initial charge from midfield led him to add the third goal.
It was a match where Nuno started winger Adama Traore on the bench, perhaps to keep his potent winger fresh for a final push. The Wolves boss will need all his key attackers on form as the club aim for what could be one of their most memorable seasons.
Norwich crumble again
Is it too late for Farke to change his tactics as his side fight to stay in the league?
His side have won admirers for their attacking intent in matches, but would setting up more defensively, akin to what Steve Bruce has done at Newcastle, reap them more points in the final third of this season? They have the pace and guile on the break with Todd Cantwell and Pukki in attack, supported by the swift full-backs.
It was during an early counter-attack that they caused Wolves problems when Pukki's close-range effort produced a good save from Patricio. And with the wind in their sails they pressed Wolves back again as McLean tested the agility of the Portuguese keeper with a firm long-range effort.
But then the visitors reminded us all why they have the second worst defence in the league - they allowed both Doherty and Jota to turn for the first goal, then three defenders went AWOL as Jota was left alone to tuck in the second.
Norwich had keeper Krul to thank for keeping it at 3-0 after he pushed Ruben Neves' strike on to the bar, then saved Doherty's late header with his legs.
It is Leicester next for Norwich, followed by Sheffield United - their Premier League fate might be all but decided by the first week of March.
No punishment for Jonny
There was one contentious moment prior to the Wolves opener when Jonny trod on Max Aarons' leg when the Norwich player was on the ground following a challenge.
The right-back looked in pain but Jonny's action was judged as accidental. The replay showed the Spanish full-back was trying to hurdle over his opponent and caught him with his boot.
The incident came a day after VAR decided the tackle by Tottenham's Giovani lo Celso's on Chelsea Cesar Azpilicueta did not warrant a red card.
Man of the match - Diogo Jota (Wolves)
'You need to be convinced and not scared' - reaction
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo on Jota: "He is always confident.
"We know a player's performance can go up and down. It's the right decisions, the right solutions we try to find to keep sustaining his performance - not only him, but all the team.
"Of course, I'm delighted with his goals. It's nothing specific. These things happen. His last touch has been clinical, Thursday and today. Hopefully it continues."
Norwich manager Daniel Farke on needing more from his players: "You have to give your life with each and every duel and I got the feeling that sometimes we were a bit soft and scared.
"We need to be greedy to win the duel, and unbelievably sharp. You need to be convinced and not scared. I think we lacked that and I'm disappointed with that fact."
Lucky omen Jota - the stats
- Wolves earned their biggest win in the Premier League since January 2019 (3-0 v West Ham), while they have only won by a larger margin once previously in the competition - 4-0 v Blackpool in February 2011.
- Norwich have won just 18 points in the Premier League this season - of the previous 15 instances of a team having 18 or fewer points at this stage, only three have managed to avoid relegation (West Brom in 2004-05, Portsmouth in 2005-06 and Leicester in 2014-15).
- Wolves have kept three consecutive clean sheets in the top-flight for the first time since between October and November 1981 (five in a row).
- Since beating Manchester City in September 2019, Norwich have been winless in their last 11 games against teams starting the day in the top half of the Premier League (D5 L6).
- Wolves are unbeaten in the 10 Premier League games when Jota has scored, picking up the victory on eight of those occasions (two draws).
- Jimenez has scored more Premier League goals than any other player this season without ever netting the first goal in a match (12).
- Doherty has been directly involved in 13 goals in the Premier League since the start of last season (seven goals and six assists), the third-most of any defender in this period behind Trent Alexander-Arnold (25) and Andrew Robertson (18).
Norwich host Leicester on Friday (20:00 GMT) and Wolves are at Espanyol on Thursday (17:55 GMT) for the return leg of their Europa League last-32 tie.
- 11Rui Patrício
- 16CoadyBooked at 68mins
- 28João Moutinho
- 19Castro OttoSubstituted forVinagreat 80'minutes
- 9JiménezBooked at 41minsSubstituted forTraoréat 72'minutes
- 18JotaSubstituted forNetoat 64'minutes
- 10Castelo Podence
- 2AaronsBooked at 45mins
- 4GodfreyBooked at 77mins
- 7RuppSubstituted forBuendíaat 59'minutesBooked at 87mins
- 25DudaSubstituted forDrmicat 59'minutes
- 14CantwellSubstituted forStiepermannat 84'minutes
- Chris Kavanagh
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Norwich City 0.
Attempt missed. Adama Traoré (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Conor Coady.
Attempt saved. Ben Godfrey (Norwich City) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Emiliano Buendía.
Kenny McLean (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Pedro Neto (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Attempt missed. Rúben Vinagre (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.
Attempt saved. Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the right side of the six yard box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Rúben Vinagre with a cross.
Emiliano Buendía (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Emiliano Buendía (Norwich City).
João Moutinho (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Max Aarons (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Attempt blocked. Rúben Vinagre (Wolverhampton Wanderers) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Matt Doherty with a cross.
Substitution, Norwich City. Marco Stiepermann replaces Todd Cantwell.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Vinagre replaces Jonny because of an injury.
VAR Decision: No card change Ben Godfrey (Norwich City).
Ben Godfrey (Norwich City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Ben Godfrey (Norwich City).
Jonny (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Kenny McLean (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Adama Traoré replaces Raúl Jiménez.
Conor Coady (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Attempt missed. Teemu Pukki (Norwich City) right footed shot from outside the box is too high. Assisted by Josip Drmic following a fast break.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Pedro Neto replaces Diogo Jota.
Corner, Norwich City. Conceded by João Moutinho.
Todd Cantwell (Norwich City) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Romain Saïss (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Substitution, Norwich City. Josip Drmic replaces Ondrej Duda.
Substitution, Norwich City. Emiliano Buendía replaces Lukas Rupp.
Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Matt Doherty.
Attempt missed. Matt Doherty (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Attempt saved. Max Aarons (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Todd Cantwell.
Goal! Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, Norwich City 0. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from very close range to the top left corner following a fast break.
Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box following a fast break.
Attempt missed. Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Diogo Jota.
Second Half begins Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Norwich City 0.
First Half ends, Wolverhampton Wanderers 2, Norwich City 0.
Attempt saved. Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.