Aston Villa prevailed in a fiery Midlands derby thanks to a stoppage-time penalty by Anwar El Ghazi and several saves by Emi Martínez. Both teams finished with 10 players as Douglas Luiz and João Moutinho were sent off in separate incidents late on either side of the breakthrough by El Ghazi, who had been introduced from the bench.
Perhaps it was ironic wit that drove the Molineux DJ to play The Who’s Teenage Wasteland in the run-up to kick off, this being a match in which two players born since the turn of the century made their Premier League debuts. A clash that produced 11 yellow cards as well as the two reds proved quite the initiation for a pair of youngsters who took very different routes to this milestone: Villa entrusted their 19-year-old academy graduate Jacob Ramsey with a spot in central midfield, while Wolves gave a start to Fabio Silva, the 18-year-old signed in September for a club record £35m.
Silva, who had only made one league start in his native Portugal before joining Wolves, looked like what he is: a highly talented player in an early stage of development. He is honing his identity – like this Wolves team, whose attempt to evolve this season has been complicated by the loss of Raúl Jiménez. They and their young striker both showed encouraging signs here and, after an uncertain start, might have won a hard-fought contest if not for Villa’s goalkeeper and Nélson Semedo’s late foul on John McGinn.
Wolves began with a back four here for the fourth match in a row but were outplayed for the first half an hour by more fluent visitors, with Ramsey slotting in to a relatively settled side. Villa could not, however, turn territorial domination into clear openings. The closest they came to scoring in the first half was when Ezri Konsa nodded a mighty throw-in from Matty Cash a few inches wide. As a tetchy first half progressed, Wolves grew in menace. Silva showed his promise as a fulcrum off which the three attackers deployed behind him could feed, and Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence and Adama Traoré also combined with each other as they began to cut through Villa.
Tyrone Mings deflected a shot by Podence wide after some snazzy work by Neto in 37th minute. Then Podence shimmed past McGinn before drilling a low shot from 20 yards that Martínez got down well to save. Three minutes later Podence led a counterattack before Traoré crossed for Leander Dendonker, who struck a first-time shot from 10 yards straight at Martínez.
Villa got back on the front foot in the second half. Luiz fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area in the 57th minute. Rui Patrício was stretched for the first time when Luiz fed Ollie Watkins, whose effort from the left-hand side of the box had to be beaten away by the goalkeeper at the near post.
Just as Villa sensed blood, Wolves nearly struck. As the irrepressible Podence scampered towards the visitors’ box, the ball ran for Silva, who showed predatory instincts to shoot first time through the legs of Konsa and beyond the reach of Martínez, only for the ball to bounce out of the upright. Magic by Neto then presented Dendoncker with a chance in the 80th minute, but Martínez saved the Belgian’s volley from 10 yards.
Wolves’s increased vibrancy inspired Silva to try to break the deadlock with an overhead kick, but Martínez foiled that fairytale finish. Luiz’s match came to an end in the 85th when he was shown a second yellow card for going elbow-first into an aerial challenge with Podence. But Villa kept believing in a late twist and McGinn made it happen in stoppage time, when he was taken down in the box by Semedo. El Ghazi, assigned penalty duties in the wake of Watkins’ miss from the spot at Fulham, sent Patrício the wrong way to give Villa the win.
Wolves’s misery deepened when Moutinho was sent off for a late foul on El Ghazi.