Wolves vs Chelsea Player ratings as Matt Doherty strike seals victory

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Christopher Nkunku’s first goal for Chelsea could not save his side from defeat as Wolves secured a deserved win at Molineux on Christmas Day.

After a tight first half, Mario Lemina scored the opening goal in the 51st minute. Wanderers held off the Blues’ pressure before substitute Matt Doherty vitally doubled their lead in second-half stoppage time.

Nkunku had the chance to nod in Raheem Sterling’s cross to reduce the deficit, but no equalizer came as Wolves moved into 11th, level on points with Chelsea.

Chelsea were without their usual pairing of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo, leaving Lesley Ugochukwu to partner Conor Gallagher as the visitors got off to a flying start. Lemina needed a smart challenge to keep Armando Broja from firing after Raheem Sterling had curled in from the left.

The Blues again failed to take advantage of a promising situation in the 11th minute when Malo Gusta’s cross eluded Broja before Gallagher’s shot was blocked by Joao Gomes. A poor first touch also negated a good start for Nicolas Jackson.

Jose Sa made his first vital save after the keeper got Joao Gomes into trouble. Sterling raced unopposed and had players either side of him but instead saw his shot smothered by Sa.

Gary O’Neil’s Wanderers managed to threaten more towards the end of the half when Craig Dawson made his presence felt in the Chelsea box before Hwang Hee-chan scored a first-time goal. The South Korean intercepted Max Kilman’s through ball but headed wide of Djordje Petrovic’s goal.

Lemina gave Chelsea a warning when his header from a corner was held up by Petrovic, but minutes later the former Southampton midfielder connected with Pablo Sarabia’s through ball to glance into the far corner.

Wolves were challenging Chelsea for points before kick-off, but their goal prompted an attacking switch from Mauricio Pochettino as Christopher Nkunku and Mykhailo Mudryk entered the proceedings.

The pressure on the home side began to build and Jackson’s indecisiveness spoiled another scoring chance before Nkunku’s shot was saved by Toti Gomes.

Nkunku’s arrival put more emphasis on Chelsea’s attacking moves and his pass to Sterling almost led to an equaliser. However, Dawson flew over and made a great block.

The Blues failed to get on the scoresheet before Wolves added a second for themselves. Two substitutes combined as Hugo Bueno’s cross deflected off Benoit Badiashile and fell to Doherty to finish simply.

It was time for Nkunku to grab his first ever Premier League goal to head home Sterling’s cross but Wolves stood firm to see off the win.

Chelsea Player ratings

Dorde Petrovic (6/10): Got teammate Levi Colwill out of a bind with some rapid covering work outside his box and made a great point-blank save to deny Toti Gomes. Could have commanded his area a bit better, though.

Malo Gusto (5/10): Provided plenty of overlapping runs to stretch Wolves’ defence but some of his defending and clearances need quite a bit of work. A sloppy outing.

Axel Disasi (5/10): Didn’t look very solid at the back, particularly when he was robbed by Matheus Cunha in his own half. Unlikely to start in this role too often off the back of this display.

Thiago Silva (6/10): Made some good headed clearances but nearly cost his side dearly when he inexplicably lost the ball just outside his box early in the second half.

Levi Colwill (6/10): Was caught out of position once or twice in the first half. Doesn’t always look comfortable at left-back, compared to when he’s in the heart of the defence.

Lesley Ugochukwu (5/10): Didn’t do a great deal in midfield and then was unable to stop Lemina nodding in the opener. It was a tough afternoon for the 19-year-old, who came off around the hour mark with an injury.

Conor Gallagher (7/10): Was Chelsea’s midfield engine and played with real quality and intensity. Continued to work hard but didn’t get the help from his teammates in an enterprising display. He is one of the Blues’ best players right now, at a time where he is¬†being linked with a transfer exit.

Nicolas Jackson (5/10): Played in a less advanced role to accommodate Armando Broja and looked a bit out of sorts. His touch let him down on multiple occasions when in good positions.

Cole Palmer (7/10): Wasn’t at his best but looked sharp enough and was one of Chelsea’s few threatening players. Got his foot on the ball as the game wore on.

Raheem Sterling (6/10): Largely had the beating of Wolves right-back Nelson Semedo, with the ubiquitous winger repeatedly popping up in dangerous positions. Missed a glorious opportunity in the first half when he should have squared to a teammate. Had a great chance to equalise in the second half but his extra touch allowed Wolves to get back and cover. Went some way to redeeming himself with a nice cross to set up Nkunku in second-half stoppage time.

Armando Broja (5/10): Perhaps took a touch too many in the box to spurn a good chance early on. Did very little when he was given a rare start.

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