Norwich City slumped to a miserable 3-0 defeat at Wolves on Sunday, leaving the Canaries eight points adrift of Premier League safety and rooted to the foot of the table.
A strong start for Norwich was quickly diminished by a slick Wolves move, with Matt Doherty collecting the ball in the box before feeding Diogo Jota, who made no mistake by firing through Tim Krul.
A poorly defended set piece saw Jota grab his second of the afternoon, as Romain Saiss was allowed to fire across the box to hand the unmarked Portuguese forward the easiest of finishes. A stunning Krul saved prevented Norwich going into the break three goals down, as he got a fingertip to Ruben Neves' thunderous free kick and tipped it onto the bar.
Any hopes of an unlikely Norwich comeback were extinguished just five minutes after the restart, as Jota's low driven effort struck the post and fell kindly for Raul Jimenez to tap into an empty net.
Matt Doherty came close to grabbing a fourth for Wolves late on, but with Norwich's spirit crushed, the game filtered away with any meaningful incident leaving Norwich deep in a relegation battle and Wolves bidding for a European place.
Key Talking Point
European hangover? What hangover?
Well, that's not entirely true. It was very clear from the off that the Wolves players were feeling the effects of Thursday's thumping Europa League win with a subdued opening at Molineux. They were content with absorbing pressure and growing into the match, as opposed to going gung-ho from the off.
It looked like a dangerous ploy, with Nuno Espirito Santo instructing his players to attack intelligently and conserve energy. Fortunately for them, the side they faced are fairly atrocious at defending. Goals were essentially gifted to Wolves with some infuriating mistakes, and as soon as the first one went in, it was smooth sailing.
Starting XI: Patricio (7); Boly (7), Coady (7), Saiss (7); Doherty (8), Dendoncker (6), Moutinho (7), Neves (8), Jonny (7); Jimenez (7), Jota (8*)
Substitutes: Neto (7), Vinagre (6), Traore (N/A)
Where has this Diogo Jota been all season? He's found the back of the net in Europe, but only three Premier League goals prior to kick off was a poor return for a player who sparkled during the 2018/19 campaign.
Lively in the box and always demanding the ball, he got the goals his performance warranted. He was on fire on Sunday, and his return to form has coincided brilliantly with Wolves' aspirations this term, as they eye a European finish in the league and success in this season's Europa League.
Diogo Jota is having a great game over at the Molineux, fantastic week it's been for him. Another superb player that top clubs should be looking to sign, if available, in the summer from Wolves.— Ninad Barbadikar (@NinadB_06) February 23, 2020
Jota is on form ain’t he— Michael (@Michael_G23X) February 23, 2020
Diogo Jota is a superb little player, movement in the box is so good.— SH (@swhftbl) February 23, 2020
Key Talking Point
In all of the 14 Premier League matches prior to kick off that Norwich had conceded first, they'd lost each and every one of them. With that stat, it's little wonder to see why they're languishing at the bottom of the table with survival looking a more distant pipe-dream with each passing week.
Which is why it must be so frustrating for Daniel Farke to see his side start the match so well only to be undone by some slack defending. Their opening to the match was confident and determined, but missed chances once again proved costly as a breakaway goal and dreadfully defended set piece put the game out of sight after half an hour.
Farke saw fit to add attacking reinforcements during the January window, but completely overlooked his leaky backline that are incapable of defending from dead ball situations. T
hey're not great at defending in general, but set pieces have been their Achillies heel, which ultimately will cost them their top flight status. They're great to watch, sure, but their knack if conceding first has killed their Premier League dream.
Starting XI: Krul (7); Aarons (5), Godfrey (6), Hanley (6), Lewis (5); Tettey (5), McLean (6), Rupp (5), Duda (4), Cantwell (7*); Pukki (5)
Substitutes: Drmic (5), Buendia (4), Stiepermann (N/A)
A bright start from the visitors looked like causing an upset in the east midlands, with much of their attacking play coming through the work of Todd Cantwell. The youngster has been one of the bright sparks in an otherwise dismal season for the Canaries, with Cantwell's trickery and creative flair causing most defences issues throughout the season.
Granted, it wasn't his best game, but it is with good reason that top flight sides are keeping tabs on him this term. If Norwich are to go down - and it does look likely - they'll face the almighty task of keeping hold of his services.
Cantwell is a baller. Needs to go to a bigger club in the summer.— ⓐ (@arogantni_) February 23, 2020
Irrespective of whether or not Norwich are relegated, Todd Cantwell will be a Premier League player next season. Their best player by a country mile today.— Charlie Gregory (@CharIieGreg) February 23, 2020
Wolves are back in Europa League action as they travel to Espanyol in the second leg of their round of 32 tie while Norwich host Leicester in the Premier League as they look to avoid relegation.
Source : 90min