Match report and free highlights as Wolves and Aston Villa draw 1-1 at Molineux; Hee-Chan Hwang opened scoring but Pau Torres hit back immediately; Mario Lemina sent off in stoppage time and Ollie Watkins struck post with final touch of the game; Villa missed chance to go fourth
Sunday 8 October 2023 19:54, UK
Aston Villa missed the chance to climb into the Premier League's top four after a 1-1 draw at rivals Wolves.
Pau Torres' equaliser, just two minutes after Hee-Chan Hwang's 53rd-minute opener, saw them come from behind in a feisty West Midlands derby at Molineux.
Mario Lemina was sent off in stoppage time for a second booking and Ollie Watkins hit the post with the final touch of the match.
Liverpool's 2-2 draw at Brighton opened the door for Villa to move into the Champions League spots but they never did enough for victory.
Wolves: Sa (7), Kilman (6), Dawson (6), Toti (6), Semedo (6), Gomes (6), Lemina (5), Ait-Nouri (7), Neto (7), Cunha (6), Hwang (8).
Subs: Doherty (6), Traore (6), Kalajdzic (6), Silva (n/a).
Aston Villa: Martinez (6), Cash (6), Konsa (6), Torres (6), Carlos (6), Digne (6), McGinn (7), Kamara (6), Luiz (6), Diaby (6), Watkins (7).
Subs: Zaniolo (6), Bailey (n/a), Tielemans (n/a).
Player of the match: Hee-Chan Hwang.
Wolves earned another solid point following last week's swashbuckling 2-1 win over Manchester City to continue their progress under Gary O'Neil. The manager would have been encouraged by another gritty performance and with better finishing from Pedro Neto, it would have been another victory.
It was Villa, though, who started the brighter as Torres miscued a header and Jose Sa turned Matty Cash's angled effort behind before John McGinn twice fired off target.
It preceded a good spell for Wolves, the hosts attempting to stamp their authority on the game without ever testing Emi Martinez. Their final ball continued to elude them until Hwang crossed for Rayan Ait-Nouri to steer wide after 33 minutes.
Yet it was the hosts' one decent chance of the half and they needed Lemina to rush out and block Douglas Luiz's shot just before the break.
Wolves head coach Gary O'Neil named the same team that started last weekend's Premier League win over Manchester City at Molineux.
Aston Villa boss Unai Emery made one change from the side that began last Saturday's 6-1 victory over Brighton.
Defender Diego Carlos replaced midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo. Moussa Diaby and Boubacar Kamara were passed fit to start.
Villa's start to the season, which had lifted them to fifth, was their second best in the Premier League but there were signs of tiredness and the visitors' decision to resort to gamesmanship early belied the quality they have.
They emerged for the second half sharper, though, and Jose Sa turned over when Watkins directed McGinn's pass goalwards. It was a brief spark from Villa but there was little surprise when Wolves grabbed the lead after 53 minutes.
Douglas Luiz was caught by Hwang with the ball worked wide to Neto who ran at Torres. He engineered enough space to cross low for Hwang to poke in his fifth league goal of the season from close range.
But the celebrations were cut short just two minutes later when Villa hit back. The hosts failed to clear from Douglas Luiz's free-kick and Watkins' cute cross was turned in by Torres.
It raised hopes the scrappy and, sometimes, ill-tempered game would take a step up in quality but neither side was able to ram home an advantage.
Wolves wanted a penalty when Neto tumbled under pressure from Boubacar Kamara while Villa failed to threaten Sa again.
With 12 minutes left, Neto should have settled the game when Sasa Kalajdzic's excellent cross found Wolves' star man, only for him to blaze over from 10 yards.
The hosts then had to see out eight of the 12 minutes of stoppage time - during which Watkins, Douglas Luiz and Nicolo Zaniolo went close - with 10 men when Lemina was dismissed for a second yellow card, after tugging back the Italian forward.
Watkins almost snatched it with the final touch of the game when his header smacked the base of the post.
Wolves head coach Gary O'Neil defused any tension after Unai Emery left without a handshake. The Aston Villa boss walked down the tunnel after the game while O'Neil spoke to the fourth official at full-time.
O'Neil said: "It was a lot of nothing, I was moaning at the fourth about playing 114 minutes and Unai didn't want to wait for the handshake so he went to walk down the tunnel. I just said: 'No problem, go down the tunnel'.
"I've waited ages for people (managers in the past), I understand that they want to talk with the fourth official.
"My conversation with the fourth official was about eight seconds long so he wouldn't have had to wait very long. But I understand if he doesn't want to, no problem. I've got no problem with Unai at all.
"I thought we edged it 11 v 11, apart from the start but a point is fairish I'd suggest. We looked comfortable, there wasn't a huge gap between the sides.
"Eight points is not a bad return, we're managing to score goals and trying to improve."
"It's a derby and we felt it on the pitch. There are a lot of supporters with us, they are pushing, it was a great atmosphere," said Emery, who also called leaving without a handshake "nothing".
"We tried to focus on the match. We reacted to the goal very quickly, it was key, and in 11 v 11 we created more chances but they had some very good transitions and chances.
"When they had a red card it was the moment where we tried to get the advantage.
"We are ambitious and very demanding. The first half we started very well but we lost a bit of control. We weren't controlling the game and at that moment I was frustrated and upset."
Wolves head to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday October 21 after the international break as head coach Gary O'Neil takes on his former side for the first time since his sacking in the summer; kick-off 3pm.
Aston Villa host West Ham in the league on Sunday October 22, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 4pm; kick-off 4.30pm.