Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-0 Derby County Player Ratings: Super Saiss

The brilliant Ruben Neves – wolves.co.uk

A special night at Molineux staged not just one of the best teams English football’s second-tier has ever seen, Wolverhampton Wanderers, it also saw one of the best players, Ruben Neves, score one of the best goals. The midfielder added to Diogo Jota’s opener in a 2-0 victory over Derby County: here’s our player ratings from the game.

Wolves

John Ruddy – one of the quietest evenings he’ll have, with his only piece of work being Huddlestone’s first half shot that was deflected straight at the former Norwich stopper. An 88% pass completion ratio (WhoScored) underlines his intentions. 6

Ryan Bennett – his passing wasn’t quite at the same level as his partners but he handled everything that came his way. 7
Conor Coady – gave away one or two clumsy free-kicks but handled Nugent superbly and picked out some good balls into forward areas. 8
Willy Boly – showed great intelligence to pick the pass for Jota’s opener and used his physicality well all evening. 9

Matt Doherty – wasn’t quite able to keep Lawrence quiet for 90 minutes and has had games this season where he has been more noticeable in terms of driving runs. By moving to the touchline when his teammates had the ball though, he opened up the pitch for the midfield. Impressed in the final half hour. 7
Ruben Neves – a wonderful looping effort over Carson which put the game to bed was one of the best goals the second-tier has ever seen. His wonderful passing is rightly lauded but in the last half-hour we also saw his determination to reduce all potential gaps in midfield; not all midfielders with his ability have that side to their game. 10
Romain Saiss – ran the show. Used possession well with short, snappy passes into the front three and help his position to a tee when Wolves needed to manage the game late on. A vital component of the midfield. 9
Barry Douglas – the Championship’s joint-top assister with 14 might feel unlucky not to have added to his tally. The Scot put in some impressive set piece deliveries that his teammates might have made more of, but he always forced Weimann onto the back foot. 8

Diogo Jota – nice movement and a composed finish for the early goal. On one occassion, he cleared a near-post corner, seconds before pressing vigourously and setting up a transitional opportunity, which epitomized the all-action nature of his performance. 8
Benik Afobe – provided a focal point and pressed intelligently, sometimes dropping deep to allow others to run into space, as we saw for the opener. Might have done better with a first half header; question marks about whether he’s a striker capable of playing at the level of the Premier League that Wolves want to compete at. 7
Ivan Cavaleiro – caused problems down the right by getting in behind Baird through slick interplay, crossing for a good chance for Adobe in the first half. Quieter after the break. 7

Helder Costa (on 66) – perhaps a tad unlucky not to start and looked dangerous on the break with quick combination play. 7
Leo Bonatini (on 74) – hasn’t quite looked as sharp as the striker we saw before Christmas. 5
Morgan Gibbs-White (on 82) – retained possession effectively in his short time on the pitch. 6

The Rams

Scott Carson – might have been braver for the first goal, looking a tad indecisive. While the romantics might understandably scoff at us questioning his positioning for Neves’ wonder-strike, perhaps he could have prepared himself better for the possibility of a shot. 4

Andre Wisdom – managed to break into the penalty area inside the first 40 seconds, which was the furthest he got up the pitch all evening. Very sluggish in possession and lacked the imagination required of the modern full-back. 3

Alex Pearce – falling over after inadvertently kicking the ball at his own chest might have been one of the night’s more comedic moments, but Pearce didn’t disgrace himself. Wasn’t a culprit for either goal and Derby should have used his height advantage over Douglas at set pieces more than they did. 5
Curtis Davies – tried to man mark Afobe for the opener without realizing that his partners were trying to play the offside trap. Not his best night but his performance wasn’t a primary factor behind the defeat. 4
Chris Baird – struggled to handle Cavaleiro defensively and was far too one-paced in possession. It was obvious every time he got the ball he would play it back inside to feet. At his age that is unlikely to change, so it makes one question why at his age he is still playing every week for a top six Championship side. 2

Joe Ledley – too easily forced back allowing Wolves to call the shots by keeping possession on the edge of the final third, turning his back to one or two shots from range. We don’t always expect technical excellence from Ledley, but on this occasion he even lacked willingness to battle for territory. 2
Tom Huddlestone – cannot cover as much ground as he used to be able to and was therefore reluctant to close down in areas where he needed to. One or two decent passes and a first half shot deflected at the keeper but didn’t make enough forward runs to open Wolves up. 4

Andreas Weimann – fired over inside two minutes after a short corner, which was his first and last moment of attacking threat. Much of his game was confined to helping out Wisdom by making interceptions in the defensive third. 3
Matej Vydra – won the occasional free-kick due to his tendency to go down under pressure, but that itself implied the team’s lack of confidence to take Wolves on in open play. 4
Tom Lawrence – gave Doherty the occasional run for his money with bright runs down the left channel. Like Vydra, he went down quite easily but perhaps the one Derby player who provided the one hint of a threat. 5

David Nugent – lacked the support to press as well as he can do. The fact he only completed 71% of his passes – the lowest of the 22 players who started – highlights how far away he was from the midfield. 3

Kasey Palmer (on 73) – tried to drive the team forward but his teammates didn’t quite share his belief and ambition. 5
Cameron Jerome (on 82) – experienced the same problems as Nugent, the man he replaced: starved of service. 4
Jamie Hanson (on 85) – didn’t have time to influence proceedings. 5