Matchweek 18
All times shown are your local time
Sun 24 Dec 2023
Kick Off:
Molineux Stadium, Wolverhampton
Att: 31,641
Ref: David Coote
  • HT
  • 51
    90 +3
    90 +6
    90 +9
    90 +10
    90 +11
  • FT



    Wolverhampton Wanderers secured a piece of history by winning only the second Premier League match to be played on Christmas Eve, beating Chelsea 2-1 to move level on points with their visitors.

    An end-to-end encounter was settled by second-half goals from Mario Lemina and Matt Doherty, condemning Chelsea to a third defeat in four Premier League matches. Christopher Nkunku scored his first goal for the Blues in stoppage time, but there was to be no equaliser.

    How the match unfolded

    Wolves made two changes following their 3-0 defeat at West Ham United last time out, with goalkeeper Jose Sa and Rayan Ait-Nouri returning in defence. 

    Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino also shuffled his pack, recalling Lesley Ugochukwu, Malo Gusto and Armando Broja to his starting XI. 

    The away side started much brighter, making most of the running in the opening exchanges. Inside the first 10 minutes, Chelsea had their first real sight of goal as Raheem Sterling played in Nicolas Jackson - but just as Jackson was about to shoot at goal, Nelson Semedo stole the ball off his toe to enable Wolves to clear the danger. 

    On 26 minutes, Sterling again caused alarm in the Wolves defence. Picking up possession at the halfway line, he spun into space and drove towards goal, only to be brought down by Lemina inches outside the Wolves’ penalty area. The England forward picked himself up and lined up the free-kick himself - before firing it high and wide of Sa’s goal.

    Five minutes later, Sterling was presented with the best chance of the match so far. Sa’s pass left Joao Gomes with little room or time to manoeuvre. Sterling pounced to steal the all away and find himself clean through on goal - but the Wolves ‘keeper atoned for his hurried pass, producing a fine save to deny Sterling one-on-one.

    The home side had been largely outplayed for the majority of the opening half, but did produce their best spell as the interval approached - without creating anything clear-cut enough to threaten Djordje Petrovic in the Chelsea goal. 

    There was time for one more chance for Chelsea before the break, with more sloppy defending from the Wolves defence allowing the ball to break to Cole Palmer - but the Blues midfielder saw his shot deflected over the crossbar as the teams went in level at half-time. 

    Three minutes into the second half, Petrovic made a fine stop to deny Toti Gomes’s close-range header. Wolves had been quicker out of the blocks in the second period and in the 51st minute they took the lead. 

    Pablo Sarabia delivered a corner from the right and Lemina guided a deft header past Petrovic into the corner of the net to send the home fans into raptures.

    Wolves were now on top and their visitors were reeling. There were shouts for a penalty, which came to nothing, after Hwang Hee-chan was pulled back in the Chelsea area, before Lemina threatened again with a shot from distance that stung the palms of Petrovic.

    Having started the second period on the back foot, Chelsea began to find their rhythm. Toti Gomes reacted well to clear Gusto’s shot off the line. Moments later, the Blues worked the ball across the penalty area from left to right. It dropped to Sterling, but he was denied again - this time by a lunging block from Craig Dawson. 

    As Chelsea pushed for the equaliser they started to leave space for Wolves to exploit. In the 81st minute Petrovic made another good save, this time diving at waist height to his left to stop Tommy Doyle’s powerful shot.  

    In the third of 11 minutes of stoppage time, substitute Doherty doubled Wolves’ lead, slotting home after the ball deflected into his path off Benoit Badiashile’s heel. 

    It looked like game over, but there was still time for Nkunku to score his first Chelsea goal, via a pinpoint 97th minute header, to set up a tense finale. But Wolves held on for a valuable win that will see them spend Christmas Day in 11th position, level on 22 points with Chelsea.

    Match officials

    Referee: David Coote. Assistants: Tim Wood, Eddie Smart. Fourth official: Tony Harrington. VAR: John Brooks. Assistant VAR: Akil Howson.

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    Club Reports

    Match officials

    Referee: David Coote

    Fourth Official: Tony Harrington

    VAR: John Brooks

    Assistant VAR: Akil Howson

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        Season So Far


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          Draws 4

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