An ice-cold penalty from Raúl Jiménez earned Wolves a point at the last after an impressive performance from Burnley had not only kept the hosts out but at arm’s length for 90 minutes.
VAR confirmed the verdict of the referee, Craig Pawson, that Jiménez had been fouled by Erik Pieters in second-half stoppage time as the pair looked to challenge following a deflected Rúben Neves shot. After the delay the Mexican international stood up, sent Nick Pope down and quietly put the ball in the net.
With the weather being more typical of the Mediterranean than the Midlands, conditions seemed to suit one of these sides more than the other. That side, obviously, being the Lancastrian one who have easy access to the riviera-like attractions of Southport and Lytham St Annes. And so it was that Burnley tore into their hosts from the off, while Wolverhampton’s Iberian-influenced contingent seemed groggy in the sun.
Burnley crafted the opening chance of the match within the first 10 minutes, Ashley Barnes bending a left-foot effort just wide of Rui Patrício’s post after an enterprising run from right-back by Matt Lowton.
It was a decent effort, and it turned out to be the only sighter the 29-year-old needed as he had his fourth goal of the season by the 13th minute.
It all began with an uncomplicated lump upfield, seeking out the run of Barnes’s partner, Chris Wood. Wood lost out in the race, but a clearing header from Ryan Bennett did not travel far and Dwight McNeil beat Neves to the second ball with a clever flicked header. From there it was all Barnes as the forward, whose form has been the equal of any in 2019, first took the ball on his chest and then, in the same move, smashed a low left foot volley just inside Patrício’s right-hand post.
It was a cracker of a goal and really it should have been followed up by another. Just three minutes later Ben Mee rose highest at the back post, after a Burnley corner was again not cleared properly, only to see his looping header come back off the bar, then off Bennett, before Patrício blocked the goalbound ball with his legs and smothered it before Barnes could tuck home. Just past the half-hour mark Woods was in the clear this time, taking down another long ball and turning inside Bennett to find himself one on one with Patrício. His choice of shot was off, however; attempting to thread the ball through the keeper’s legs, Wood saw it blocked by them instead.
Burnley were full of zest and vigour, naturally without ever over-complicating matters. Wolves, for their part, were not only being bested physically in every position, but technically too. By the end of the first half the hosts were barely able to string a pass together and the Molineux crowd that had begun the match in full voice had resorted to jeers.
That said, it felt like it was all set up to be a game of two halves. Wolves would get a talking-to, raise their effort and Burnley would, eventually, tire. That didn’t happen though. Wolves were just as disjointed after the restart as they were before, Burnley just as effective.
Five minutes into the second half Sean Dyche’s men had another chance to double their lead and it was the most technically impressive move of the lot.
A crossed ball had been repelled by the Wolves defence but again the clearance only reached a Burnley player. Johann Berg Gudmundsson was that man and he whipped the ball back into the box with venom. Barnes of course was alive to it and made a sweet first-time connection with the toe of his right boot but could only watch as it arrowed just wide of the post from 10 yards. A slow puff of the cheeks from Barnes’s marker, the beleaguered Bennett, showed just how little Wolves had been able to do about it.
After that, the game became bogged down, which was just as Burnley would have wanted it. It looked as if they would earn three impressive away points without even having to break sweat. But then came the last knockings a marginal call and a very cool finish.