Fire and fury at Molineux as Manchester City’s perfect record went up in smoke. Matheus Nunes was chased away, Erling Haaland barely touched the round thing and the champions looked unusually weak.
Nunes actually helped Wolves. That wasn’t his fault, but this place needed someone to collectively protest against and the persistent and ferocious booing from their old midfielder did no harm to Gary O’Neil.
It was awkward for City, painful for Nunes, who was removed at half-time with Wolves already a goal ahead. A nasty afternoon – nine bookings and a melee after full-time – and that’s how you beat Pep Guardiola’s side, who looked bereft without Rodri. He won’t be at Arsenal next weekend either, which should be a major concern.
Having less control and being more susceptible to counters, the absence of their incumbent midfielder became increasingly noticeable. Hwang Lee-chan’s winner six minutes after the hour, after a trademark breakaway, provided a major boost for O’Neil, who had attracted significant criticism following the defeat at Ipswich Town a few days earlier.
This is the kind of occasion that can turn a manager’s fortunes around and the way Wolves celebrated it indicates they believe beating the Treble winners can act as a catalyst in the way a result against Liverpool recently could have had.
Gary O’Neil’s Wolves achieved historic victory by beating Man City at Molineux, ending their 100 percent record
The home side produced an inspired performance, while Pep Guardiola’s side underperformed on Saturday, falling behind twice
Pep Guardiola was serving a touchline ban and looked unimpressed as he watched his side’s defeat from the stands
“If you beat the best team in the world, or possibly the best team ever, that’s obviously a big result,” O’Neil said. ‘These are unexpected three points against a team that will probably win the league again.
WOLVES (3-4-3): Sat 7; Kilman 8, Dawson 8.5, Toti 7; Semedo 7, Lemina 7.5, Joao Gomes 8 (Traore 67, 6), Ait-Nouri 7 (Doherty 74, 6); Neto 8, Cunha 7.5 (Silva 86), Hwang 7.5 (Jonny 86)
Subs not used: Bentley, Bueno, Kalajdzic, Sarabia, Hodge
Unused subs: Bueno, Kalajdzic, Sarabia, Bentley, Hodge
Goals: Dias 13′ (OG), Hwang 66′
Booked: Hwang, Lemina, Neto, Sa
Manager: Gary O’Neil
MAN CITY (4-1-4-1): Ederson6; Walker 6, Akanji 5, Dias 5, Ake 5 (Grealish 80); Kovacic 5.5 (Phillips 65, 6); Foden 5.5, Alvarez 7, Nunes 6 (Bobb 46, 6), Doku 6; Haaland 5
Subs not used: Ortega, Carson, Gomez, Gvardiol, Lewis
Unused subs: Carson, Ortega, Gomez, Gvardiol, Lewis
Goals: Alvarez 58′
Booked: Walker, Doku, Alvarez
Manager: Pep Guardiola
‘Liverpool introduced a level of chaos where City today is structured, you know where everyone is going to be. The match looked as we had prepared. We went into great detail.”
That revolved around Matheus Cunha, the striker, who screened Mateo Kovacic. Wolves left Ruben Dias on the ball as a reserve man and City never really got through with the right regularity.
This result came long before the maligned Craig Pawson blew up.
The sight of Haaland, stumped by Craig Dawson and Max Kilman who registered just 15 touches, hurtling towards Pawson just before half-time told all about City’s early frustration.
Hwang, who had already been booked, had felled Kyle Walker and City begged Pawson to reach into his pocket again.
Wolves played on the edge and thundered into tackles, but City felt it had gone too far.
But as Guardiola descended three flights of stairs from the boardroom to the dressing room, he knew that failure to break through a stubborn wall was the reason they were falling behind.
“It’s not easy for Erling when there are a lot of players around him,” Guardiola said.
The solution was to draft teenager Oscar Bobb to replace Nunes.
“What a waste of money,” said the £53million man in Sir Jack Hayward’s side. The home care had done its job well.
It had become too busy in the central parts of the field, City were not really threatening enough from the width.
City had the best of the first chances when defender Manuel Akanji sent an effort over the bar for the visitors
But Wolves would shock the Premier League leaders after striker Pedro Neto made a strong run into the penalty area
The Portugal international’s subsequent effort was deflected into the net by Ruben Dias to give his side the lead
Dawson’s intervention, when Haaland was destined to give the visitors an early lead, deflecting a Nunes center from the Norwegian, was as close as they could get.
Pawson eventually lost control and it is ironic that Guardiola – never shy of coming forward on the touchline – would have ended up in the book had he not served a one-match ban for three yellow cards. Sitting two seats behind Mike Summerbee in the main stand, he was reduced to jeering at sporting director Txiki Begiristain.
Wolves bravely kept three men in positions to take full advantage when the opportunity arose. Neto is quite handy for that and the Portuguese, who are starting to emerge as a force again, were causing untold problems to the left of town. The opener, after 13 minutes, was entirely his fault.
Craig Dawson produced a couple of crucial goal-line clearances to deny the visitors as Man City looked for a way back
City looked on course for a comeback win when Julian Alvarez scored directly from a free-kick in the second half
But Wolves pressed on undeterred and Hwang-Hee Chan restored his side’s shock advantage just eight minutes later
City applied the pressure in the closing stages, but O’Neil’s side held on to secure their second league win of the season.
Kovacic and Phil Foden crowded into each other’s space and Neto took off, 15 yards into his own half. Foden couldn’t keep up and Nathan Ake was done with his pace as Neto charged towards the byline. He looked up and saw Cunha timing his advance, but Dias was able to intercept them past Ederson.
Molineux looked like a bear pit and it only got worse thirteen minutes after the break. Not because of the quality of Julian Alvarez’s free kick, which helped the desperate Jose Sa into the top corner, but because of the reward.
Bobb seemed to get a free role and moved towards the box when Joao Gomes nudged him. Bobb bundled up, Pawson blew for the mistake and this spot lost its head.
But the theme of this was that Wolves had City’s benchmark. Hwang had his aim and spun frantically into the corner after clearing a scramble. To reach that position, Wolves smashed a ball over Ake – an area they regularly took advantage of – and the sense of chaos in City’s penalty area saw Dias block Hwang’s first attempt before the South Korean got a second bite , with Walker narrowly failing to head the shot. out of line.