Saturday 16 February 2019

Comic book defending as Jota produces superhero effort in thriller

Jota’s hat-trick won a pulsating game for Wolves against Leicester.

Wolves’ Diogo Jota (far right) celebrates the first goal of his hat-trick against Leicester (Mike Egerton/PA)
Wolves’ Diogo Jota (far right) celebrates the first goal of his hat-trick against Leicester (Mike Egerton/PA)

By Nick Mashiter, Press Association Sport

Diogo Jota was Wolves’ hat-trick hero as his last-gasp strike stole a thrilling 4-3 win over Leicester.

Foxes forward Jamie Vardy had dressed up as Spider-Man for training on Thursday but Jota was Wolves’ Superman with a clinical treble.

The hosts had raced into a 2-0 lead at Molineux thanks to Jota and Ryan Bennett.

Demarai Gray and Conor Coady’s own goal hauled Leicester level before Jota made it 3-2 midway through the second half.

Wes Morgan equalised with three minutes left but it was Jota who won the points in injury time – with boss Nuno Espirito Santo sent off for joining in the wild celebrations on the field.

Defeat, a third in a row, increased fan pressure on Leicester boss Claude Puel as they fell behind Wolves in the race for the Europa League.

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Claude Puel saw his side beaten again (Mike Egerton/PA)

The Foxes have been slow starters this season and it was no different at Molineux and they found themselves 2-0 down after 12 minutes.

Kasper Schmeichel pulled off an excellent early fingertip save to turn Ruben Neves’ 25-yard curler over but was left helpless after four minutes.

Gray lost possession trying to break and when Joao Moutinho crossed, Jota arrived ahead of Danny Simpson to volley in from six yards.

Leicester looked for a quick response and almost grabbed one instantly when Vardy robbed a dawdling Rui Patricio only for the goalkeeper to recover and smother his shot.

A lightning start showed no signs of easing and Wolves doubled their lead on 12 minutes after more sloppy Leicester defending.

Moutinho floated in a corner and Bennett beat Harry Maguire to head in his first goal of the season from eight yards.

By scoring, he became the first English player to net for Wolves in the Premier League since Matt Jarvis in 2012.

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Ryan Bennett, second right, climbs highest to head Wolves’ second goal (Mike Egerton/PA)

The shellshocked Foxes tried to recover and Patricio made a smart low stop from Gray’s fierce drive before gathering the forward’s volley.

Ricardo Pereira dragged wide as Leicester wasted what first-half chances they had.

And Jota should have made it 3-0 just before the half hour but headed straight at Schmeichel after being picked out by Raul Jimenez.

It kept Leicester in the game and Schmeichel made another smart save six minutes before the break, denying Jimenez after he skipped past Morgan.

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Kasper Schmeichel, second right, shows his frustration at half-time (Mike Egerton/PA)

Wolves appeared in control but they had kept just one clean sheet in their previous 14 Premier League outings and imploded within six minutes of the re-start.

Just 80 seconds into the second half Leicester grabbed a lifeline when Vardy was allowed to run to find Gray who skipped past Romain Saiss’ challenge to drill into the corner from 12 yards.

Four minutes later the visitors levelled when Jonny Otto stumbled trying to cut out a cross with the ball falling for Barnes and his low angled effort was deflected in by Coady.

It was the skipper’s second own goal in consecutive games after he turned in Kevin De Bruyne’s effort against Manchester City.

Leicester had regained their mojo but the Foxes were stunned when Jota scored against the run of play after 64 minutes.

The visitors were undone by a superb long ball from Neves which bypassed their defence allowing Jota to collect and rifle under Schmeichel.

Yet Morgan looked to have earned a point when he rose highest to head in James Maddison’s free kick to level with three minutes left.

But Leicester blew it in injury time when Jota was left free in the area to latch onto Jimenez’s cross and complete a sensational hat-trick.

Press Association

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