Goalscorers: Diogo Jota 4, 64, 90, Ryan Bennett 12, Demarai Gray 47, Conor Coady 51 OG, Wes Morgan 87
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Ryan Bennett, Conor Coady, Jonny, Ruben Vinagre (Matt Doherty 73), Romain Saiss, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho (Morgan Gibbs-White 81), Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota
Leicester City: Kasper Schmeichel, Ben Chilwell, Harry Maguire (Jonny Evans 48), Wes Morgan, Danny Simpson (Kelechi Iheanacho 83), Ricardo Pereira, Wilfred Ndidi, Nampalys Mendy, Harvey Barnes (James Maddison 73), Demarai Gray, Jamie Vardy
Referee: Chris Kavanagh, Attendance: 31,278
In October 2003, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City played out a seven-goal thriller. That match saw the home side comeback from 3-0 down to win 4-3. Just over 15 years later, the scoreline was repeated after a masterpiece of a Midlands Derby at Molineux.
Leicester manager Claude Puel came into the match under pressure. He was heavily criticised for playing three holding midfielders in their recent defeat to Southampton. The fans also weren’t impressed with the weakened team he’d fielded in their FA Cup third round exit to fourth-tier Newport County AFC. So, he couldn’t have wished for a worse start than what he experienced here in the first 12 minutes.
Wolves started brilliantly. Ruben Neves tested Kasper Schmeichel’s reflexes from distance inside two minutes and 120 seconds later, the home side were infront. Neves’ regular central midfielder partner, Joao Moutinho, produced an inch-perfect cross which was finished clinically by Diogo Jota.
Moutinho claimed another assist on 12 minutes. From the Portuguese’s corner, Ryan Bennett climbed above Harry Maguire at the back post to get his first goal of the season. Leicester’s zonal marking had been woefully exposed and they looked all at sea defensively. However, they were threatening going forward in the opening 45 minutes. Demarai Gray kept Rui Patricio busy with a couple of decent efforts whilst Jamie Vardy ensured Patricio never got any time to play out from the back.
The 2016 Premier League champions might have started slowly in the first half but the roles were reversed after the break. Wolves’ two-goal advantage was wiped out within the first six minutes of the second half. First, Gray’s driving run down the left-hand side saw him hold off Romain Saiss and, on the angle, slam his shot beyond Patricio. Soon afterwards, Harvey Barnes – back from a loan spell at West Bromwich Albion, saw his shot find the back of the net via a wicked deflection off Conor Coady. The dubious goals panel later awarded it as a Coady own goal.
Leicester did lose Maguire to injury early in the second half and his fellow centre-back, Wes Morgan’s lack of pace was evident on 64 minutes. Neves picked out Jota with a stunning long ball that left Morgan trailing in his wake. Jota then beat Schmeichel for his second of the afternoon to restore Wolves’ lead. It was a rollercoaster match and the chaotic conclusion hadn’t even begun yet. It looked like Leicester had snatched a point three minutes from time.
Substitute James Maddison whipped in a dangerous free-kick and captain Morgan made up for his iffy defensive display with a towering header to power the visitors’ level at 3-3. At this point, Puel would have settled for the point but there was to be a sting in the tail.
Sensing an opportunity to win the contest, Leicester pushed too many players forward and one final counter-attack was to undo their good work to get back into the match. Raul Jimenez had wondered onto the right-hand side and once again, Jota had easily overcome Morgan in a sprint battle to have acres of space in the penalty area. Jimenez picked his strike partner out and the Portuguese completed his hat-trick; the first-ever treble by a Wolves player in their Premier League history.
Unable to hide his joy, Nuno Espirito Santo ran down the touchline to join in the celebrations. This resulted in him being sent to the stands for the closing moments. Meanwhile in the other dugout, Puel buried his head in his hands, stunned by this late twist.
The win took Wolves back into seventh place and they’d finish there too to ensure a UEFA Europa League campaign in 2019-2020. Leicester ended up in ninth but Puel was sacked a month after this Molineux loss. He was replaced by former Swansea City and Liverpool FC boss Brendan Rodgers.