Wolves 3-0 Everton

Lacklustre Blues blown away ​

A year to forget for Everton Football Club fizzled out with a disappointing, lack lustre showing at Molineux against a Wolves side who looked capable of a much bigger margin of victory. Sean Dyche went with a back three and it badly misfired for him with goals from Kilman, Cunha and Dawson giving the home side a comfortable and not entirely unexpected three points.

The final game of the far-from-dull year of 2023 saw the Blues on the back of two losses travel to the Midlands to face a Wolves side coming off two victories, having beaten Chelsea on Christmas Eve and then thrashing Brentford 4-1 on Wednesday evening.

Under Gary O’Neil, Wolves are turning Molineux into something of a fortress on the back of a seven game unbeaten run at home and the manager admitted this week, “I’ve loved the home games so far and looking forward to making sure the lads are in a place where they can get the fans going again so they can create that atmosphere we’ve had this season.”

In team news, Wolves had Craig Dawson and top scorer Hwang Hee-Chan available for selection but, were without Mario Lemina following the passing of his father. Looking to do the double over Everton having won at Goodison back in August, O’Neil named his starting line-up: Sa, Kilman (c), Dawson, Toti, Somedo, Joao, Doyle, Ait-Nouri, Hwang, Sarabia and Cunha.

Looking to avoid ending the year on three straight losses, Everton travelled without Abdoulaye Doucoure, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Ashley Young who all remained unavailable. Blues boss Sean Dyche advised that Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Tarkowski had missed training on Thursday having picked up slight knocks in the loss to City but, both were expected to be okay for the visit to Wolves.

Commenting on the reaction to the ten point deduction, Dyche noted, “The fans’ connection with the Club is something I endlessly talk about. The alignment between us the staff and the players – that is beginning to mature. These are all important factors. The news of the 10 points put a dent in that, but it hasn’t broken anything. We are still there, fighting and working hard, and I still believe we have the players to get more from the season than we are currently getting.”

Sean Dyche made a tactical change in opting for a 5-4-1 formation with two changes from the side that started against City in a starting eleven that read: Jordan Pickford, Nathan Patterson, James Tarkowski (c), Michael Keane, Jarrad Branthwaite, Vitalii Mykolenko, Jack Harrison, James Garner, Amadou Onana, Dwight McNeil and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

Tom Bramall was our referee for this end of year but, far from end of season fixture.

Everton in their grey strip on a blustery day in the Midlands with amazing support again brandishing the posters suggesting all is far from right within the Premier League ahead of kick off.

An early escape for the Blues as a ball over the top found Hwang in space to gain the area, check and cross with Branthwaite and then Tarkowski getting the ball to safety. And a second lucky escape came in the seventh minute as a three man break by the hosts saw Hwang opt to go alone and Pickford did enough to deny him a clear shot and the Blues defence, notably Onana, got back to clear their lines.

The Blues first real attack saw Onana feed Harrison to get past his defender and cross towards DCL but, too close to Sa in the home goal. On ten minutes, the pink ‘Corrupt’ posters were again raised while on the pitch, Everton had settled down before a poor pass from Patterson played Onana into trouble and he conceded a free kick that Wolves did nothing with.

From a throw-in Doyle fed Cunha who tried his luck from distance, bending a shot wide of the target. Three chances for the home side in the opening quarter of an hour giving Sean Dyche and his side something to think about and deal with sooner rather than later. An excellent tackle on Sarabia by Mykolenko blunted another Wolves raid before a ball from Tarkowski was nodded down to McNeil by Harrison, McNeil then skipped past Dawson but, his through ball for DCL was too strong and easily gathered by Sa.

Passing the 20 minute mark, and a ball from Patterson down the channel for DCL saw him find McNeil to shoot from distance but, it sailed harmlessly high and wide. Patterson was booked on 22 minutes for a foul on Joao Gomes and it led to Wolves winning the games first corner from their right, and a second off Tarkowski that he headed clear but, when the ball came back into the Everton area, Pickford failed to hold it and before it could be cleared, Kilman poked it over the line to give the home side the lead.

With Everton having lost all their games this season in which they had conceded first, the omens were not good and weren’t improved when DCL got on the end of a ball from McNeil to twist and shoot but, wide across the face of goal. Another chance went begging for Wolves as after Harrison was too easily dispossessed the home side moved the ball quickly from left to right and a ball from Semedo flashed across the face of the Everton goal.

Half an hour gone and Everton were still to really get into the game, too many passes going astray, precious little invention and no real cutting edge being shown. Onana went down after a tap on the ankle from Semedo and needed a moment before gingerly returning to the field. A couple of minutes later, the Belgian went down again and immediately Andre Gomes began to warm up while Onana received some treatment, before again returning to the field from the touchline.

Into the final five minutes of a half that could only be described as poor from the perspective of Evertonians and a lazy ball from Onana played Tarkowski into trouble and it resulted in a free kick wide left for Wolves that Pickford punched clear. Ait-Nouri was booked for time-wasting at a throw-in and quite honestly, half time could not come quick enough – Sean Dyche needing to think hard about changing the formation and trying to find a way to inject some intensity into his sides play.

Pickford, quick off his line, prevented Hwang getting to a ball over the top and the fourth official indicated a minimum of four further minutes for the fans to endure. DCL was called offside getting on the end of a much, much better ball from Onana and the Blues through Vitalii Mykolenko won a late, late corner that didn’t overly trouble the Wolves defence and the ball eventually sailed out for a goal kick. Handbags between Doyle and McNeil, after a collision between DCL and Dawson, saw them both yellow carded, and mercifully referee Bramall blew up and the sides trooped back to the respective dressing rooms.

Half Time: 1-0

No changes by either manager for the start of the second half that saw Everton look somewhat more determined in the opening exchanges before Semedo fired a cross too strongly for Hwang and wide. Hwang barged into Branthwaite from behind to give the Blues a free kick just inside their own half that Pickford launched into the Wolves area with the home side eventually clearing after blocking efforts by Branthwaite and Tarkowski.

Wolves weathered the early Everton pressure and doubled their lead in the 53rd minute as Hwang got behind the Blues to get onto a ball from Sarabia and cross for Cunha to score from two yards.

Excellent defending by Mykolenko broke up another Wolves attack but, with the two goal lead, the home side were clearly fancying their chances of improving their goal difference.

Branthwaite was hurt in a foul on him by Kilman and from the free kick a terrible mix-up between Keane and Tarkowski gave Hwang time and space but thankfully, he put his effort wide. Wolves weren’t to be denied though and added a third marker as Craig Dawson on his return from injury got a telling deflection on a cross from Cunha, and Pickford was beaten at his near post as he went the other way.

Changes on 63 minutes saw Seamus Coleman and Andre Gomes replace Nathan Patterson and Michael Keane respectively.

James Tarkowski was the third Everton booking for a foul through the back of Hwang even though he argued he’d won the ball cleanly. Gomes picked out DCL with a fine ball that he laid into the path of McNeil and his shot from distance cannoned back into play off the goalpost with Sa nowhere near it. Wolves responded with a raid that ended with Joao Gomes shooting straight at Pickford.

A good low cross by McNeil was hooked clear by Dawson getting ahead of DCL and passing 70 minutes, Pickford denied Hwang with a good save to his right at full stretch. Hwang finally found the net with a curling finish getting on the end of a ball from Sarabia with the offside flag saving Everton blushes and denying the Korean.

Beto and Arnaut Danjuma joined the game on 73 minutes replacing DCL and Dwight McNeil.

Sarabia won a corner as a shot was deflected behind off Tarkowski, and Onana headed the set piece clear for Harrison to hook it all the way downfield to Sa. Inside the final quarter of an hour and Wolves were able to knock the ball around looking for further openings without actually having to chase the game hard, the three goal advantage giving them absolute confidence that the points were already theirs.

Neto and Bellegarde replaced Cunha and Sarabia for the final ten minutes for the home side, Gary O’Neil using the big lead as the ideal opportunity to give players a rest and others some valuable game time on returning from injury.

Coleman won a corner off Toti and Semedo easily belted the poor set piece from Harrison downfield before Joao Gomes went down and was replaced by Doherty.

A member of the Everton coaching staff was yellow carded for voicing an opinion that the referee didn’t find particularly helpful and Wolves went looking for a fourth only for Neto to lift his shot high over the target.

Premier League madness reared its ugly head again with a ludicrous NINE added minutes – nine minutes that neither team or manager wanted given the score line and inevitable outcome long since decided.

Harrison fired a shot across the face of goal and still, the visitors hadn’t recorded one effort on target from this game. Wolves were once again denied a fourth as a shocking ball from Pickford was picked off by Hwang and played into Neto who netted but, the offside flag was raised against Hwang. Hardly surprisingly, vast tracts of the ever-loyal travelling support was already making their way to the exits and the warmth of their transport home as Wolves continued to look for another goal.

Coleman chested a deep cross behind for a late corner that saw Mykolenko hook clear and thankfully, the referee called it a day on an abjectly poor day in the history of Everton Football Club.

Full Time: 3-0

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