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Walcott rolls back the years as Saints draw at Wolves

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Theo Walcott rolled back the years with his first Southampton goal in 15 years but was denied victory as Pedro Neto earned Wolves a 1-1 draw at Molineux.

Walcott turned in Che Adams’ square ball 13 minutes after half-time to give the Saints a lead which would have taken them within a point of leaders Tottenham and Liverpool.

They had been indebted to the good work of Alex McCarthy to keep Wolves at bay until that point, but with 15 minutes to go the goalkeeper could do nothing to keep Neto from beating him after Raul Jimenez had struck the base of the post.

Minutes before that goal, Walcott should have doubled his tally and Southampton’s lead after more fine support work from Adams but rolled his effort wide with only Rui Patricio to beat.

Instead, Wolves’ point moved them into the top half above Arsenal and Manchester United, and up to ninth.

How Saints earned deserved point at Molineux

The final game of the weekend saw Wolves line up without Conor Coady for the first time in the Premier League since the start of 2018/19. Such was the impact of his absence, Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo set his team up with a back four in a rare change from their regular three-man defence.

The change in shape did little to inhibit his side in the opening minutes, with Nelson Semedo and Leander Dendoncker testing McCarthy in quick succession before Walcott, whose professional debut came against Wolves in August 2005, fired straight at Patricio from a tight angle.

Stuart Armstrong then fired just wide from Adams’ slide-rule pass forward, before McCarthy provided more acrobatics to tip away Daniel Podence’s glancing header from a free-kick.

Goalmouth action had been largely at a premium before half-time but Wolves have made a habit of improving after the break, and seven minutes into the second period McCarthy again denied Podence from the Portugal forward’s near-post drive.

Soon Walcott would provide a moment of real Saints nostalgia when Adams beat Max Kilman at the second attempt from the byline to find the Everton loanee, who was left with a simple finish at the far post for his first Southampton goal in 5,434 days, since scoring in an FA Cup win over MK Dons in January 2006.

He could have made himself a likely matchwinner when Adams outmuscled the Wolves defence and set him away with a superb pass, but lost his nerve at the crucial moment and fired wide of Patricio’s right-hand post.

Image: Pedro Neto scores Wolves’ equaliser against Southampton five minutes after coming on

That miss would come back to bite Southampton within minutes as Wolves levelled. After Jimenez was allowed time to swivel and shoot he left McCarthy helpless as the ball rebounded off the base of his far post before Neto, who had only come on five minutes earlier, equalised for the hosts.

The goalkeeper did get the better of Neto from Wolves’ next attack, with Kyle Walker-Peters breathing a sigh of relief after being robbed of the ball, only for McCarthy to bail him out thanks to a smart save with his feet, in the final chance of note in an even game.

What’s next?

Wolves travel to Arsenal in Sunday’s tea-time game on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 7pm; kick-off at 7.15pm.

Southampton are also back on the box this Sunday when they host Manchester United on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; kick-off at 2pm.

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, SkySports | News reports

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