Aleksandar Mitrovic has endured his fair share of frustrations playing in the Premier League. Hyper-prolific in the Championship, the Serb has been unable to perform at England’s highest level.
His brace against Liverpool last weekend, however, suggested things might be different for this throwback of a centre forward this time around.
Alas, his late penalty kick here was repelled by Jose Sa and Fulham took only a point from Wolves. It was a reminder of the harshness of Premier League football. Those are the breaks.
Aleksandar Mitrovic saw his penalty saved by Wolves’ Jose Sa ten minutes from the end
Rayan Ait-Nouri (L) brought down Bobby Decordova-Reid in the box late into the match
Bruno Lage’s side are yet to pick up their first three points having lost to Leeds last week
WOLVES VS FULHAM MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Sa 7; Castro 6 (Semedo 78), Collins 6.5, Kilman 6.5, Ait-Nouri 5; Dendoncker 6, Neves (c) 6.5; Podence 7, Gibbs-White 6, Neto 6 (Traore 78); Hwang 6 (Guedes 58, 6)
Substitutes not used: Sarkic (GK); Boly, Toti, Ronan, Cundle, Campbell
Manager: Bruno Lage 5
Booked: Podence, Neves, Gibbs-White
Fulham (4-2-3-1): Rodak 5; Tete 6 (Francois 90+2), Adarabioyo 5, Ream (c) 6, Robinson 6; Reed 6, Palhinha 6; De Cordova-Reid 6.5, Pereira 7 (Cairney 86), Kebano 7.5 (Stansfield 83); Mitrovic 5
Substitutes not used: Leno (GK); Mbabu, Duffy, Diop, Chalobah, Muniz
Manager: Marco Silva 6
Missed penalty: Mitrovic 81
Booked: Palhinha, Reed, Mitrovic
Referee: John Brooks 6
His fury bubbled over in stoppage time. He dashed back to cynically bring down Morgan Gibbs-White, who took exception to the foul and the pair engaged in some tete-a-tete.
Molineux howled for the red card that would have compounded Mitrovic’s misery. In the end, both saw yellow.
In truth, Mitrovic had done very little in the 80 minutes before he stepped up from 12 yards. He’d barely had a kick let alone created a decent chance. He’d also had precious little service all afternoon.
But when Bobby De Cordova-Reid was tripped by Rayan Ait-Nouri as we entered the final 10 minutes of a truly lacklustre game, Mitrovic had his golden chance.
But Sa guessed correctly and didn’t have dive too far to keep it out, ensuring the stalemate the spectacle deserved. Mitrovic didn’t get either the necessary power or direction on his kick.
Fulham can’t complain with a point, however. They didn’t create all that much, with Mitrovic’s penalty just their second shot on target.
Wolves definitely need to produce more, however. Not even the introduction of their £27.5million striker Goncalo Guedes with half-an-hour left could spark them.
This was a home fixture against a newly-promoted side. Bruno Lage’s team have to be winning these type of games.
The hosts saw early chances come and go but couldn’t sustain any decent pressure to rattle Fulham.
Until the late flurry of excitement, you could have termed the game ‘heatwave football’. Languid, insipid, uninspiring. A crowd that had slowly roasted in the sunshine came to life in the final moments but general boos greeted the final whistle.
Rayan Ait-Nouri (L) will be a relieved figure having committed the foul for Fulham’s penalty
Neither manager named their latest signings in the starting line-up with Wolves’ Guedes and Fulham’s £15m defender Issa Diop both among the substitutes.
Wolves made the more enterprising start in sweltering conditions with pitchside temperatures at Molineux well above 30C.
Twice in the opening five minutes Daniel Podence picked the perfect pass from midfield to spring an attacker clear down the left channel.
First, Pedro Neto raced through but saw his shot blocked by Fulham keeper Marek Rodak before the offside flag was belatedly raised.
Moments later, Hwang Hee-Chan found himself in an identical position with the same outcome as Rodak stood tall at his near post.
But Wolves really should have taken the lead when Rodak raced off his line to collect Ait-Nouri’s dinked pass searching for Neto.
Wolves new recruit Goncalo Guedes made an appearance having recently signed for £27.5m
But the Slovak collided awkwardly with Tosin Adarabioyo as the defender came across him and the ball spilled loose for Neto to advance on goal.
Tim Ream was covering and did just about enough to put Neto off before Podence fired the rebound wastefully across goal.
The first-half play was generally pretty stagnant. The heat obviously didn’t help and both managers took full advantage of a hydration break that dragged on over two minutes to impart instructions.
Fulham’s brightest opening came from a corner. Andreas Pereira picked out Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s near post dart and his glancing header was goalbound until Ruben Neves – wearing the captain’s armband after Conor Coady’s loan to Everton – hooked the ball to safety.
Bruno Lage’s side picked up their first win of the season having lost to Leeds last weekend
Wolves really should have taken the lead eight minutes after the restart. Ait-Nouri was played clear down the left and delivered a delicious cross that Morgan Gibbs-White was fractionally late arriving for. The net was unguarded but his shot spooned up off his boot and over.
Lage decided it was time to introduce Guedes shortly afterwards. Hwang had shown plenty of intent and running up top without really creating anything so the swap was needed.
The Wolves fans tried to rouse their side by cranking up the volume but more gaps were appearing at both ends as the second-half drew on.
Neeskens Kebano was a constant threat on the Fulham left and he skipped inside to curl a tame shot at Sa before all the late drama sparked a poor game into belated life.