This was a magnificent match of carnage and craft, where the intensity began from kick-off and sustained until the final dramatic seconds.
At its culmination Nuno Espirito Santo was in the stands, having been sent off for celebrating Diogo Jota’s stoppage-time goal on the pitch, and Leicester players were strewn deflated across the turf.
Twice Leicester thought they had rescued a draw from the jaws of defeat, only to be undone once more in the 93rd minute. In keeping with a game of attacking quality, the decisive goal was a beauty. Ruben Neves bisected Jonny Evans and Ben Chilwell with a flat crossfield pass to Raul Jimenez, who squared for Jota at the far post and he applied the finish to complete his hat-trick and spark delirium at Molineux. It was a finale to make this a contender for game of the season.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo and his players go wild in the corner after Diogo Jota’s late winner against Leicester
Jota netted a 93rd-minute winner to secure a hat-trick and claim a thrilling 4-3 win over the Foxes on Saturday afternoon
Jota missed a chance just before but made no mistake to get his treble at the second time of asking with a side-foot finish
Claude Puel put his head in his hands and then vented his anger following the last-minute winner at Molineux on Saturday
Referee Chris Kavanagh deemed Santos’s celebrations excessive and the Portuguese was sent off for the final few seconds
Jota got in front of Leicester right back Danny Simpson to latch on to Joao Moutinho’s cross and fire the opening goal in
Ryan Bennett doubled the hosts’ lead when he climbed above England star Harry Maguire to head home from a corner
Demarai Gray cut the deficit in the opening stages of the second half with a sensational individual effort
Harvey Barnes brought the Foxes level when his effort deflected in off Conor Coady just moments after Gray’s goal
Wolves turned defence into attack quickly as Ruben Neves’ pinpoint through ball fell to Jota who smashed in a second goal
Wes Morgan almost salvaged a point for Leicester with a towering late header but Wolves went up the other end and won it
MATCH FACTS, RATINGS, TABLE AND MATCH ZONE
Wolves (3-4-1-2): Patricio 6; Bennett 7, Coady 7, Saiss 6.5; Jonny 6.5, Dendoncker 7, Neves 8, Vinagre 6 (Doherty 73’ 6); Moutinho 7.5 (Gibbs-White 81’); Jimenez 8, Jota 9.
Subs not used: Cavaleiro, Costa, Ruddy, Giles, Traore.
Goals: Jota 4, 63 & 90+3, Bennett 12
Bookings: Bennett, Jota, Jonny
Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo 8
Leicester (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel 7; Simpson 6 (Iheanacho 83’), Morgan 7, Maguire 6 (Evans 48’ 6), Chilwell 7; Mendy 5, Ndidi 5; Ricardo 6, Gray 7.5, Barnes 7 (Maddison 73’ 7); Vardy 7.5.
Subs not used: Albrighton, Ward, Fuchs, Choudhury.
Goals: Gray 47, Coady OG 51, Morgan 86
Bookings: Mendy, Pereira, Ndidi
Manager: Claude Puel 6
Referee: Chris Kavanagh 7
Season at a glance
- Premier League
- Premier League
- League One
- League Two
- Scottish Premiership
- Scottish Div 1
- Scottish Div 2
- Scottish Div 3
- Ligue 1
- Serie A
- La Liga
Nuno ran to be with his players, who had amassed in a ruck on the floor, and for stepping onto the field he was dismissed from the touchline for the closing stages.
At the moment Jota struck Claude Puel placed his head in his hands and screamed in anger. This was a fourth defeat in five games and the damage could easily get worse when you consider their next three fixtures are against Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham.
Puel’s position is perennially precarious and the way his team discarded a point will count against him. Kasper Schmeichel marched down the tunnel with a face of thunder after Wilfred Ndidi’s fatal mistake of conceding possession in midfield and failing to close down Neves.
‘We didn’t manage the close of the game in the right attitude,’ Puel said. ‘We were naive a lot, that is a big disappointment. I hope we can learn. It was important to run the clock down and finish with the fantastic feeling. We have to correct our inconsistencies.’
A dazzling firework display once again greeted the players on to the Molineux pitch before kick-off on Saturday lunchtime
Neves looks to the sky in disbelief after seeing his audacious effort from distance clawed away by Kasper Schmeichel
Jota looked unlikely to win the ball with three defenders around him but found some space and prodded home the opener
He wheels away in delight to celebrate with the home fans as Simpson lies on the ground in despair after losing his man
The Wolves manager celebrates wildly with his backroom staff on the touchline as his team raced into a lead on home soil
Jamie Vardy robbed Rui Patricio of the ball inside the Wolves penalty area but the goalkeeper managed to recover and save
Bennett jumped high into the air to tower above Maguire and power a header into the far corner to make it 2-0 to Wolves
The emotions were polar opposite for Nuno, who wanted to share his delight with his players and accepted his punishment. ‘I was sent off, but rightly so,’ he said.
Jota said: ‘In a game like this when you win you feel the greatest man in the world. It was a very open game, both teams got into the final third easily. This is the kind of game I watched as a kid and now I am a part of it.’
The first whistle had acted like a release of the handbrake and Wolves went freewheeling at Leicester.
In the third minute Schmeichel pulled off a spectacular save, flying through the air to tip over a trademark long-range shot from Neves. But he was beaten from the corner. Leicester cleared only for Leander Dendoncker to dispossess Demarai Gray, enabling Jimenez to pass to Joao Moutinho on the wing. There was not much for Moutinho to aim for but he crossed regardless and Jota cut across Danny Simpson and thrust out his leg to prod the ball in.
Puel cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and was seen barking orders at his players after they fell two goals behind
Gray looked lively as Leicester went in search of a goal but the pacey winger was initially denied by the Wolves defence
Jota had a chance to make it 3-0 when he evaded Morgan in the box but his header was saved by Schmeichel this time
Wolves striker Raul Jimenez tries an acrobatic effort on goal but the Mexican forward got his timing extremely off
Jota screams out in pain after being hacked down by Leicester’s Ricardo Pereira as he dribbled up the pitch at Molineux
Gray received the ball from Vardy and ran at the Wolves defence before shifting it on to his right and slamming home
It was Gray’s third goal of the season across all competitions and was the perfect response for the visitors after half-time
Wolves made it two in the 13th minute. Moutinho delivered a good corner and Ryan Bennett beat Harry Maguire in the air to head home. Maguire struggled getting off the ground and would later come off injured.
‘Sacked in the morning,’ Wolves supporters sang at Puel. A significant number in the Leicester section clapped and joined in.
Rui Patricio saved from Gray and Jota headed straight at Schmeichel from six yards. Jimenez drew another good save from Schmeichel with a low finish.
Stemming the flow was the immediate thought at half-time but Leicester emerged with determination renewed and inside seven minutes they were level.
In the aftermath of the goal celebrations, Leicester defender Maguire was forced to come off with a leg injury
Barnes pounced on a loose ball inside the box caused by a mix up in the Wolves defence and hit a first time shot towards goal
The Premier League officially awarded the goal as a Coady own goal but the Leicester winger was elated nonetheless
Puel’s expression turned from exasperation at his team’s performance to delight after they had recovered to make it 2-2
Puel’s delight did not last very long though as Jota managed to stay onside and smash an effort past the helpless Schmeichel
Jota runs away in celebration as the Leicester defence are left frustrated at being cut apart so easily be Wolves once again
Two minutes into the second half Vardy anticipated a bouncing ball better than Bennett and passed out to Gray, who was bursting from midfield. Gray had one thought, racing into the box, riding a tackle by Romain Saiss that could have brought a penalty, and driving his finish low beyond Patricio.
Patricio tipped over a fierce shot by Barnes and shortly after Ben Chilwell powered down the left flank with purpose.
His run took two Wolves players to stop and when it did come to an end Jonny Otto’s tackle only sent the ball into Barnes’s path. Barnes hammered his shot towards goal, and it nestled in the back of the net after diverting through Conor Coady’s legs. A first Leicester goal for Barnes was chalked off by the adjudicators, who ruled it an own goal by Coady.
A comeback victory of this kind would have bolstered Puel hugely, but just as soon as it looked on Wolves went ahead again through a piece of brilliance by Neves.
Schmeichel failed to keep hold of a cross but managed to snatch the ball away from Jota’s foot on the edge of the box
Moments after coming on, James Maddison missed a glorious chance at the near post as he fluffed his shot wide of the target
But the England Under-21 star delivered an inch-perfect set piece that Morgan forced into the net inside the final few minutes
Leicester thought they had escaped with a point but Jimenez played in Jota and he finished past Schmeichel once again
It was pure ecstasy among Wolves fans in the stands as they celebrated Jota’s winning goal with pure jubilation
Morgan could not believe what had just unfolded and covered his face in despair at conceding a late winner
Jota clenches his fist in celebration and walks off with the match ball under his arm after netting a memorable treble
The 21-year-old moved sharply onto a clearance near his own area, and looked up to see Jota ready and running some 50 yards ahead.
The pass was exquisite, a nine iron that dropped perfectly into place, and Jota did the rest. He chested the ball ahead as Wes Morgan gave chase in vain, and fired a low finish that Schmeichel only partially blocked into the roof of the net.
James Maddison came off the bench and three minutes from the end hit a wonderful deep free-kick that looked like it would earn his team a point. Morgan attacked the delivery, beating Dendoncker for strength, and headed in for his first goal since scoring against Sevilla in the Champions League last-16 tie in March 2017. But it was not the final act.