Matheus Cunha’s extra-time penalty edges Wolves past Brentford

By Sports Desk January 16, 2024

Wolves set up an FA Cup derby showdown with West Brom after a battling extra-time win over Brentford.

Matheus Cunha’s penalty sent Gary O’Neil’s side through to the fourth round as the hosts eventually sealed a 3-2 replay victory at Molineux.

Wolves hit back through Nelson Semedo and Nathan Fraser in normal time after Nathan Collins and Neal Maupay twice gave the visitors the lead.

But Cunha’s extra-time spot kick booked a Black Country derby at the Hawthorns, the first in three years, on January 28.

The Bees will be left with a blank weekend but will at least have Ivan Toney available having missed him during a barren winter, during which they have won once since the start of November.

The striker completes his eight-month ban for betting breaches on Wednesday.

The 1-1 draw in the initial tie ended a five-game losing streak for the Bees and confidence still looked low until they scored against the run of play after 13 minutes.

Wolves had been in the ascendancy but were caught when Kristoffer Ajer wriggled goalside of Matt Doherty.

His fierce effort was parried by Jose Sa but, when the ball was played back in, Maupay’s shot was blocked and Collins bundled the ball in from six yards.

It was part redemption for Collins who endured a nightmare against his former club in the Premier League last month, gifting them three goals in a 4-1 defeat.

It failed to deflate Wolves, though, and they went close to a leveller after half an hour.

Cunha cross found the unmarked Semedo and, with Thomas Strakosha stranded, the defender’s shot was blocked by Brentford’s massed ranks on the line.

The ball ran for Pablo Sarabia but he could only put his effort into the side netting.

Yet the hosts did not have to wait long for a leveller six minutes later when Semedo reached Cunha’s flighted cross, his header was parried by Strakosha but he had the easiest of tasks of tapping in the rebound.

It should have given Wolves the extra momentum but they were behind again six minutes after the break.

Keane Lewis-Potter’s cross caused problems on the edge of the box and when the ball ran to Maupay he smashed in high from eight yards. The striker was initially ruled offside but, after a two-minute VAR check, the goal was given.

Maupay has scored just four goals this season – and only five since February 2022 – with two coming against Wolves after his strike in the original game.

Brentford were dreaming of the fourth round, which they had only gone beyond once since 2006, and Mikkel Damsgaard curled a free kick at Sa.

But the tie continued to twist and Wolves levelled again with 18 minutes left when substitute Fraser, on for just three minutes, drilled into the corner.

A minute later the forward should have put the hosts ahead only for Strakosha to pull off a wonderful close-range stop.

From then extra time loomed and Sa turned Shandon Baptiste’s effort onto the post soon after the restart.

But Wolves snatched a deserved win in stoppage time of the first period when Cunha converted from the spot after Pedro Neto had been tripped.

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