Wolverhampton Wanderers’ five-game unbeaten run came to a sudden halt this afternoon as they fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
Chances were few and far between for either side in a closely-fought opening 45 minutes, but Wilfried Zaha’s strike just after the hour mark sparked an entertaining end to proceedings.
Jose Sa was tested on several occasions by Odsonne Edouard and Christian Benteke before Wolves were awarded a penalty after Joel Ward was adjudged to have brought down Rayan Ait-Nouri inside the box.
However, Graham Scott’s decision was overturned by the video assistant referee, and Conor Gallagher sealed the three points for Palace after his goal-bound effort took a heavy deflection off Conor Coady, leaving Sa stranded.
It was a disappointing day all round for the Midlands outfit, with several usually dependable performers well below their best.
It was arguably left-wing back Ait-Nouri who struggled the most in south London. Edouard gave him a torrid time down the flank in the second half following his switch with Zaha, and reporter Alex Dicken highlighted the French youngster’s toils.
“Defensively, Ait-Nouri still has a lot to learn and struggled up against the more physical Edouard after Zaha switched sides at half-time,” wrote Dicken after awarding the youngster a six out of 10.
Although the 20-year-old offered some attacking threat and showed endeavour throughout the 90 minutes, he made a string of costly errors which hindered Wolves’ play, letting Lage down as a result.
As per SofaScore, Ait-Nouri lost possession a whopping 27 times, achieved a miserly passing accuracy of just 62% and picked out a teammate with just one of his five attempted crosses. The France under-21 international also lost nine duels and was dribbled past by an opponent on four occasions, with his only redeeming statistic that he made seven tackles.
Ait-Nouri could have a fabulous career at the highest level, but he’ll need to improve on his defensive work and final ball from today if he is to reach his full potential.