Winning second balls was the key for Wolves against Aston Villa after they struggled to settle down early on, says Nuno Espirito Santo.
Wolves claimed a third straight win thanks to a goal from Leander Dendoncker, which in turn compounded Villa’s struggles in the relegation battle.
The situation is quite the opposite for Wolves, whose gaze is firmly fixed up the table. Having qualified for the Europa League last season, they have an outside chance of going one better and reaching the Champions League this time around.
Wolves have now risen to fifth place, two points behind the top four having played a game more. Fifth may be enough to secure Champions League football if Manchester City’s European ban is upheld.
There is still a lot of work to do, as a busy schedule awaits. And Nuno says it is time to start preparing already, after being impressed with their approach at Villa Park.
“I think we performed well in terms of our organisation and in terms of staying in the game,” he told BT Sport. “We approached the game really well.
“We didn’t settle down early on but once we had a couple of opportunities we started to control the game and create more chances.
“Honestly everyone knows in football you can plan but anything can change. We had an idea, today was about controlling the game, about getting tough and opening them to get possession in the wide areas.
“I am very happy for Leander, he is a hard worker. It is time now to recover and prepare because next week we have three games in one week and it will be tough.”
Elaborating further on the difference between the way Wolves started and finished the game, Nuno pointed to a lack of possession early on as a problem.
However, the coach revealed that his players’ hard work was enough to put things right.
He added to BBC Sport: “Happy with the hard work of the players. But we did not start well.
“We were not able to have our possession. We won a lot of second balls which was important in this game.
“The aim of the second half after we scored was to hold on and stay compact but after that, we did not create many chances.”
Wolves are next in action next Saturday when they face Arsenal. Games against Sheffield United and Everton follow in quick succession.