With Bruno Lage’s Wolverhampton Wanderers side heading into Wednesday evening’s Premier League clash in something of a slump in form, having won just one of their last four league outings and scoring just one goal over these fixtures, the 45-year-old manager would have undoubtedly been hoping for a much-improved result from Wolves’ trip to Brighton & Hove Albion.
And, while it was by no means an all-out attack display from the visitors, Romain Saiss’ superb first-half strike following a delicious Ruben Neves through ball was enough for Wolves to take all three points back to Molineux, with the game ending 1-0.
However, while it is true that both Saiss and Neves were two of Lage’s better performers on the night, it was undoubtedly 26-year-old Daniel Podence who really stole the show against Brighton.
Being handed just his third start of the Premier League season, Lage somewhat surprisingly decided to unleash the Portugal international in a central attacking role against the Seagulls, taking the place of the suspended Raul Jimenez at the tip of Wolves’ attack.
And, over the course of his 90 minutes on the pitch at the American Express Community Stadium, the £22.5m-rated man highly impressed in an unfamiliar role, hitting the target with two shots, completing five dribbles, making two interceptions and winning eight of his 13 attempted duels – a success rate of 62%.
These returns saw the man who Pedro Neto dubbed a “mini-Hazard” receive a SofaScore match rating of 7.3, the second-highest of any player to feature in the match, while Birmingham Live also awarded the £60k-per-week forward an eight in their own player ratings, stating of the 26-year-old’s performance:
“Podence played as a false nine in Wolves’ fluid front three and popped up all over the pitch in an all-action display. There were lots of delightful flicks and tricks, especially one reverse pass to Marcal. Podence was a huge threat throughout.”
As such, considering how little game time Podence has been given by Lage so far this season, if the fixture against Brighton was the Portuguese dynamo’s big test, there is absolutely no doubt that the former Sporting CP winger passed with flying colours.