Fulham’s difficult start to life back in the Premier League continued as Pedro Neto’s low drive handed Wolves a 1-0 victory at Molineux.
Scott Parker’s side produced a vastly-improved defensive display but Neto’s strike in the 57th minute was all that the hosts needed, with Rui Patricio not forced into a save all game.
While Wolves were not at their best, Alphonse Areola was forced into a stunning double save before half-time and he also denied Raul Jimenez two minutes prior to the only goal of the game.
The result means Fulham are rooted to the bottom of the table with no points from their opening four games, while Wolves move up to 12th after putting defeats to Manchester City and West Ham behind them.
How Wolves extended Fulham’s difficult start
After shocking defensive displays from both sides last week, it was unsurprising the opening stages were tetchy and uneventful.
Premier League debutant Antonee Robinson’s driving run and weak shot was the main goalmouth action in a nervy opening 20 minutes, which would have left Nuno Espirito Santo frustrated and Parker pleased.
But the visitors nearly undid all their good work shortly before the half-hour mark and were grateful to ‘keeper Areola for his heroics.
Neto pounced on a loose Fulham pass and fired in a low shot from the edge of the box. Areola dived to his left to push it away from the bottom corner, before leaping to his feet immediately and rushing out to close down Nelson Semedo.
The wing-back looked certain to score but Areola managed to get his body in the way and deny the new signing a first Wolves goal. The jubilant reaction on the Fulham bench said all you needed to know about the stop.
After an uneventful end to the first half, Areola was quickly off his line a second time as he denied Jimenez. A simple ball over the top saw Jimenez shrug off Maxime Le Marchand and drive a low effort towards goal which was blocked by the ‘keeper’s feet.
But there was nothing Areola could do when Wolves did take the lead barely two minutes later. Fulham defenders threw themselves in the way of a Leander Dendoncker shot, only to see the ball fall straight to Neto. He took one touch before firing a low drive into the bottom corner with a smart finish.
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Fulham responded well and midway through the second half, Parker threw on Ademola Lookman and Aboubakar Kamara which galvanised his side. A well-built break saw Aleksandar Mitrovic tee up Kamara in the box and with all the time in the world to pick his spot, the sub fired an effort straight at the grateful Rui Patricio.
Neeskens Kebano was brought on with nine minutes left and saw two efforts go over the bar, as well as a free-kick blocked as he added even more impetus. But for all Fulham’s efforts, they did not force Patricio into working for his clean sheet.
While Wolves will use the result as a platform to build on after the international break, Fulham will know they need to sharpen up in the final third if they are to even fight for survival this season.
After the international break, Wolves face a tough trip to take on Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, live on Monday Night Football on October 19. Fulham, meanwhile, are on the road again as they take on Sheffield United at 3pm on Saturday October 17.
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