Raul Jimenez’s deflected second-half goal was enough to give Wolves victory over Leeds at Elland Road and move Nuno Espirito Santo’s men up to sixth in the Premier League.
Although Leeds dominated the opening period, the visitors were in charge from the final minute of the half when Daniel Podence’s shot was saved.
In only the second top-flight Elland Road meeting between these two famous old clubs since 1981, Wolves were well on top by the time Jimenez took the ball across field from the right flank after 70 minutes, before checking inside to shoot from the edge of the box.
Kalvin Phillips tried to block the Mexican’s effort but only succeeded in heading into the opposite corner, leaving goalkeeper Illan Meslier stranded and unable to stop Jimenez netting his third goal of the season.
Wolves thought they had scored earlier in the half when Roman Saiss lashed home Podence’s cross, but after taking guidance from VAR Michael Oliver, referee David Coote ruled it out for offside.
Though close, it was the right call. It certainly created far less controversy than the incident the pair were involved in on Saturday when – with Oliver in charge and Coote at Premier League HQ – they deemed Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford did not deserve a red card after injuring Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk with a reckless challenge.
Reality check for Leeds
Leeds have enjoyed an excellent start to their first top-flight season since 2004 and victory would have taken them into third, but this first home defeat since February was a bit of a reality check for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
The Argentine’s deep thinking about the game has turned the West Yorkshire side into a tactical conundrum.
At different times they can have three, four or five players in defence depending whether Stuart Dallas is pushing up the left flank or Phillips is dropping deep.
And as they did in their thrilling draw with Manchester City in their last home game, Leeds enjoyed long periods when they were the better side.
Luke Ayling had a shot blocked by Max Kilman and Patrick Bamford got to Jack Harrison’s cross but was unable to turn his first-time effort goalwards.
They rallied after Jimenez had broken the deadlock and Pablo Hernandez did have chance to level, but the effort was blocked and with it went Leeds’ hopes of avoiding a second defeat of the season.
Wolves in transition
Wolves will be delighted at three wins from their opening five games, particularly as manager Nuno is in the early stages of revolutionising his team’s style of play, changing them from a largely counter-attacking unit into one that is comfortable in possession.
However, with three of his new recruits on the bench, including £35.6m teenager Fabio Silva, the indications are Nuno has not quite settled on his preferred use of the talents at his disposal.
A first-half possession statistic of 31% underlined Wolves’ labours, as did their return of zero shots on target before Podence drove the best chance of the opening period straight at Meslier with virtually the final kick before the whistle.
Jimenez’s forward partnership with Podence will be the key to Wolves’ hopes of progress as Nuno’s rebuilding work continues.
The Mexican remains one of the Premier League’s most feared strikers – only Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also scored 30 top-flight goals since the start of last season – and Podence is blossoming into a capable replacement for Diogo Jota.
Leeds next play in the Premier League at high-flying Aston Villa on 23 October (20:00 BST), while Wolves entertain Newcastle on 25 October (16:30 GMT).
More to follow.
- 2AylingBooked at 15mins
- 21StruijkSubstituted forHernándezat 75′minutes
- 23PhillipsBooked at 61mins
- 17Hélder CostaSubstituted forPoveda-Ocampoat 71′minutes
- 22HarrisonSubstituted forDias Belloliat 82′minutes
- 18Dias Belloli
- 11Rui Patrício
- 22Nélson Semedo
- 28João MoutinhoBooked at 66minsSubstituted forNevesat 82′minutes
- 7NetoSubstituted forMarçal de Oliveiraat 89′minutes
- 10Castelo PodenceSubstituted forTraoréat 65′minutes
- 5Marçal de Oliveira
- 17Soares Silva
Match ends, Leeds United 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Second Half ends, Leeds United 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Rúben Neves.
Ian Poveda-Ocampo (Leeds United) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Marçal (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Attempt blocked. Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Attempt blocked. Rúben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Leander Dendoncker.
Foul by Robin Koch (Leeds United).
Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Marçal replaces Pedro Neto.
Foul by Patrick Bamford (Leeds United).
Nélson Semedo (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Ian Poveda-Ocampo (Leeds United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Rúben Neves replaces João Moutinho.
Substitution, Leeds United. Raphinha replaces Jack Harrison.
Kalvin Phillips (Leeds United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Raúl Jiménez (Wolverhampton Wanderers).
Corner, Leeds United. Conceded by Willy Boly.
Attempt blocked. Pablo Hernández (Leeds United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Jack Harrison.
Attempt missed. Pablo Hernández (Leeds United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Luke Ayling with a cross.