‘Need to blame ourselves’: Chelsea’s dire year hits new low with disastrous loss to Wolves after star’s horror miss
Chelsea have slumped to a third defeat in four Premier League games as second-half goals from Mario Lemina and Matt Doherty earned Wolves a deserved 2-1 victory at Molineux.
Lemina headed in unmarked from Pablo Sarabia’s corner early in the second period. It was just reward after Gary O’Neil’s side had weathered early pressure and the hosts had spurned a host of chances, most glaringly from Raheem Sterling.
In stoppage time, with the visitors committed forward Wolves broke and Doherty converted a cross by Hugo Bueno.
Substitute Christopher Nkunku headed his first Chelsea goal in the dying minutes, but Mauricio Pochettino’s side slipped to a third away league defeat on the spin.
“We need to blame ourselves,” said Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino. “That’s why we didn’t win today, because in the first half we had the chances to score. In the Premier League if you’re not clinical enough when you have chances, always you can concede.”
Armando Broja spurned the game’s first opening, setting the tone as the visitors had 16 shots but only scored in injury-time.
Sterling was Chelsea’s clearest danger in the first half, running at Wolves down either flank and pitching inviting deliveries. But after half an hour he wasted their best chance.
Sterling dispossessed Joao Gomes, Wolves’ last man, and advanced on goal with Jackson and Cole Palmer alongside him. Either player would have had a tap-in; instead, Sterling went alone Jose Sa saved his shot.
Wolves began the second half with urgency, Gomes hitting a shot that nicked off Lesley Ugochukwu and grazed the post.
It was a warning the visitors did not heed. Sarabia’s corner dropped into the heart of the Chelsea penalty area and Lemina headed past the stranded stand-in keeper Djordje Petrovic.
Pochettino sent on Nkunku for his Premier League debut, with the ineffectual Broja departing.
Sterling then went close again, an heroic last-ditch block from Craig Dawson diverting the ball over Sa’s crossbar. The balance of the game was tipping in Chelsea’s favour.
Their growing confidence led to their undoing. Three minutes into added time, Bueno broke down the left, Benoit Badiashile’s attempted clearance was atrocious and Doherty crashed it home to take the roof of Molineux.
Nkunku headed in from Sterling’s cross minutes later, but few Chelsea fans had stayed to see it.
“I thought it might have been tricky for us once we started to tire,” said Wolves manager Gary O’Neil, who had been forced to name an inexperienced bench.
“But the lads manage to produce another fantastic performance here and we deserved the win really.”