When Willy Boly reflects on the Premier League 2018/19 campaign won’t forget the matches against Manchester City in a hurry. The Frenchman scored his first goal in the top flight against the champions in August.
In this return fixture he was sent off for the first time in his Wolverhampton career. Two firsts for Boly, one to remember, one to put to one side. Certainly, his 19th minute dismissal for a reckless lunge on Bernardo Silva realistically ended this as a contest.
Centre back Aymeric Laporte, who also scored in the meeting between these sides earlier in the season, played one of the passes of the season – certainly one of the Premier League 2019 highlights from a defender –to dissect the visitors defence and the rampaging Leroy Sane found Gabriel Jesus who tapped in from close range.
The warning signs were ominous at this point – City had lost none of the previous 19 Premier League games in which Jesus has scored in (won 18, drawn one).
The warning signs were even clearer moments later when Boly was dismissed and suddenly Wolves’ difficult task was made even harder.
The red card clearly riled some fans of league leaders Liverpool, naturally fearful of City and irked by a decision not to send-off City skipper Vincent Kompany for a similar challenge in their recent top of the table clash when Pep Guardiola’s men closed the gap at the summit.
While inconsistency of officials naturally riles, it was hard to argue with referee Craig Pawson’s decision.
Jesus was in the wars himself a short time later, colliding with a post when sliding in and the sporting reaction of the Wolves players in quickly calling for the physio was good to see.
Jesus did get on the score sheet again before the break, however.
Shortly after Diogo Jota gave City a warning, Ryan Bennett tripped Raheem Sterling in the box and Jesus converted from 12 yards.
The sight of Kevin De Bruyne replacing David Silva and Sergio Aguero coming on for Jesus in the second half highlighted the strength in depth at Guardiola’s disposal and the home side managed the remainder of the contest against plucky opponents without over exerting themselves.
The former had an impact 12 minutes from time as he floated in a cross which took two deflections, the latter from Conor Coady before nestling into the net to seal a comfortable night’s work and reduce Liverpool’s lead to four points.
It said much for Wolves’ progress this season under Nuno Espirito Santos that this was their biggest defeat of the campaign.
This was too much of an ask though, especially once they were reduced to 10 men.