It was a frantic first half at Molineux, with Wolves slipping behind to an early Adam Lallana goal, before a Goncalo Guedes goal and a Ruben Neves penalty edged the home side in front.
Kaoru Mitoma drew Brighton level just before the break and, with the match finely poised, Nelson Semedo received a red card for what looked like an imitation of a rugby tackle on Mitoma.
The home side were defending resolutely before Pascal Gross scored what proved to be the winner with just seven minutes left. Steve Davis’ side are left 19th in the table, with the same number of points as bottom club Nottingham Forest.
With just Neves and Guedes receiving pass marks this afternoon, there were plenty of passengers for Wolves. However, Joao Moutinho was perhaps the most ineffective against Brighton, and he might have just blown his World Cup ambitions.
The Portuguese midfielder received a SofaScore rating of 6.5/10, although he made just 25 passes during the match and took a paltry 38 touches, which is especially poor coming from someone with so much experience.
Defensively, the 36-year-old wasn’t much better, contributing just two tackles and one interception all day, whilst also being dribbled past on two occasions.
Moutinho was included in Fernando Santos’ provisional 55-man squad for the World Cup, but a performance of this magnitude surely won’t go unnoticed, especially since there are younger, more tenacious midfielders such as Otavio and Vitinha ready to make their mark in Qatar.
Football writer Zach Lowy said in September when the Wolves midfielder was left out of Portugal’s UEFA Nations League squad that “he’s dispensable now”, and it certainly feels like the 36-year-old’s influence is waning.
Performances such as today’s won’t help his cause, especially considering that he looked short of ideas, and it might be time for the national side to embark on a new era with a younger, sharper midfield.
With just two matches to go before the tournament begins, there is still time for Moutinho to make amends, but he will likely need two excellent performances to force his way onto the plane to Qatar.