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VAR denies Wolves’ bid to close on top-four spot

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Wolves missed out on the chance to close the gap on the top four as they were held to a goalless draw by 10-man Leicester City amid more VAR controversy.

Just before half-time, Willy Boly looked to have opened the scoring for the hosts after a short corner routine but his close-range header was ruled out with Pedro Neto judged to be offside in build-up.

Leicester midfielder Hamza Choudhury was sent-off 14 minutes from the end of normal time after collecting two bookings in the second half.

But in a game full of incident and goalscoring chances, the main talking point was Boly’s disallowed effort.

Only Sheffield United, with five, have had more goals ruled out by VAR decisions in the Premier League this term than Nuno Espirito Santo’s side and the decision was greeted with derision by the home supporters who chanted ‘What a load of rubbish’ and ‘Is it football anymore?’.

The result leaves Leicester third in the table, a point behind Manchester City.

However, Wolves move up to seventh, three points behind Sheffield United in fifth, and well-placed to compete for a Champions League place next term, if City’s ban from European club competitions is upheld and England retains four clubs in the competition.

Strikers draw blanks

While the early parts of this game suggested the sides could emulate the seven-goal thrillers that have marked their last two Premier League meetings at Molineux, that hope fizzled away largely due to poor finishing.

Raul Jimenez was chief culprit for the hosts, heading three excellent opportunities either over or wide of the Leicester goal and slashing woefully at a left-foot shot that drifted wide of Kasper Schmeichel’s and remained in play.

When Wolves did hit the target, Schmeichel was there to deny them, brilliantly stretching out his left leg to prevent Diogo Jota from scoring and blocking Adama Traore’s stinging stoppage-time shot at point-blank range.

Jamie Vardy fared no better for the visitors. After the hour mark the Premier League’s leading marksman had touched the ball just seven times on his 200th Premier League appearance for the Foxes.

And the 33-year-old’s evening did not get any better as he failed to register a single shot, meaning he has now gone six Premier League games without a goal – his longest run without a top-flight goal since he went seven games between December 2016 and February 2017.

Winter break woes?

While Brendan Rodgers gave his squad seven days off after their 2-2 draw with Chelsea on 1 February and Wolves took their players on a warm-weather training trip to Spain, at times the purpose of those breaks – to recharge – did not look to have worked.

Both sets of players appeared to run out of ideas and legs at times on a spongy Molineux surface.

Nine of the 11 Foxes players to start the game had made over 20 Premier League starts this term but, while Brendan Rodger’s consistency of selection has helped them to third in the table, they struggled to find their previous spark.

Wolves, who playing their 42nd game of the season, started with eight players who have started 20 Premier League games or more.

The Foxes have now taken five points from the last available 15, while Wolves have managed six in the same period.

‘I thought we deserved a point’ – what they said

Wolves manager Nuno Espirto Santo to BBC Match of the Day: “It is not about frustration but realising what we did in the game and now analyse to say ‘we could (have won)’.

“Leicester had possession in the first half but did not create, we scored in the first half and dominated a very good team. The boys created many chances but it requires more work from us to complete the actions.

“Raul Jimenez was there, (it will happen for him) in the next game. The work rate he did was amazing. He did not put it inside the net but his it is amazing how he works and creates for the team. We go again on Thursday and hope things will happen.

“I saw a lot of energy from the players and this is what I am happy about, we are ready for the tough cycle.”

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers speaking to BBC Match of the Day: “I thought we deserved a point. They are always a threat on the counter. It was impressive for us to keep a clean sheet with 10 men.

“We probably could’ve been quicker around the attack – the build-up play was good – but away from home you expect to come under pressure and it ends up being a very good point and keeping the gap to 14 points between us.”

On the VAR decisions: “I think his big toe was offside! It’s unfortunate. We’re disappointed to give the corner away. We’ve had a number that have gone for and against and you just have to keep the team calm.

“I didn’t think it was a red card for us, so it’s unfortunate.”

What next?

Wolves travel to Norwich next Sunday, 23 February (14:00 GMT), while Leicester host Manchester City on Saturday, 22 February (17:30 GMT) knowing a win will send them above Pep Guardiola’s side into second.

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