Wolverhampton Wanders came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 at Molineux, scoring twice in a spirited second half to shock the visitors at Molineux.
Following the fireworks pre-match, it was a bright start from the Blues. N’Golo Kante crept in behind Wolves’ back line, who had left acres of grass down the right-hand side. In his modified midfield position, the Frenchman seemed caught in two minds and pulled a tentative pass back to Eden Hazard, hardly troubling Rui Patricio’s palms.
Wolves seemed spurred on for the fight yet took a huge blow 20 minutes in which fell like a sucker punch. Hazard linked up with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who checked inside and unleashed an effort, which was certainly goal bound, before a hearty deflection from captain Conor Coady diverted the ball past a stranded Patricio.
The Portuguese goalkeeper then pulled off a superb fingertip stop to deny a wicked Willian free-kick that was destined for the top corner as Chelsea took the harmony out of Wolves’ early rhythm. The mercurial Morgan Gibbs-White was Wolves outstanding outlet, demonstrating his full range of trickery in tight areas.
Although Sarri’s side contained proceedings, the Italian manager will have been less than impressed with the number of occasions his team lost possession needlessly. Nuno Espirito Santo’s team continued to battle with the Blues, delivering a handful of dangerous crosses which Chelsea exited unscathed.
It could have been all settled as Willian was sent rushing towards goal after he was sent away by an audacious chip by Hazard. As the Brazilian bore down on Patricio, only a brilliant Ryan Bennett block stopped a Chelsea second.
Before many could even take their seats for the restart, Chelsea came charging out of the blocks. Hazard set the midfield machine Loftus-Cheek away, his low cross crashed across the six-yard box without a touch in Blue; Alvaro Morata came closest, put off by the recovering Willy Boly.
As the fouls clocked up against Chelsea, they began to ramp up the pressure on Wolves once again. Cesc Fabregas found Willian with a raking cross-field ball, whose touch and finish was far from desired.
Santo’s pack of hungry Wolves did not let up the hunt and took a huge bite back at Chelsea. Gibbs-White weighted a great pass into the feet of Raul Jimenez, who smashed his shot straight through Kepa Arrizabalaga for the equaliser.
A mere four minutes went by before momentum had fully swung Wolves way. Matt Doherty drilled a ball which bypassed the Chelsea defence, falling to an unmarked Diogo Jota who slotted his first goal of the season to send the hosts into the lead.
Two goals in quick succession sucked the life out of Chelsea, injecting it all into the atmosphere around Molineux as the hosts held on to a slender lead. Both Hazard and Fabregas were forced to try from long range, with no prevail.
The home side showed grit to grind out a determined victory, whereas the Blues could not reply to their revitalised hosts. With Wolves winning their first game in eight outings, Chelsea lost their first away fixture to a newly promoted side for 13 games.
Sarri and co have an exceedingly tougher task on Saturday, as they host the juggernaut that is Manchester City; tonight’s result only makes Chelsea’s competition for the title even trickier.
By Nathaniel Kay at Molineux