Brighton failed to score at home for the first time in 23 matches as they were held to a frustrating goalless draw by Wolves at the Amex Stadium.

Albion dominated possession in a tetchy Premier League contest but lacked a cutting edge in attack.

Wanderers captain Maximilian Kilman hit the frame of his own goal early in the second half, while Pedro Neto, Matheus Cunha and Mario Lemina went close for the counter-attacking visitors.

A largely forgettable encounter was at least memorable for Seagulls midfielder James Milner, whose 633rd Premier League appearance lifted him clear of Ryan Giggs on the competition’s all-time list, behind only record holder Gareth Barry.

Brighton climb to seventh, above Manchester United on goal difference, courtesy of the stalemate, while Wolves move level on points with 10th-placed Newcastle.

Albion won this fixture 6-0 last season – their biggest Premier League victory and Wolves’ heaviest loss.

Danny Welbeck was one of three players to score twice that day and he threatened to inflict to more misery on Wanderers during a bright beginning for the hosts.

After forcing a corner with a deflected shot off Matt Doherty, the former England forward climbed high to flick on Pervis Estupinan’s 11th-minute delivery, only for Facundo Buonanotte’s back-post diving header to be hacked off the line by Tommy Doyle.

Wolves were just about managing to contain the lively hosts and almost snatched a 22nd-minute lead.

Portugal forward Neto, making his first start since October in the absence of 10-goal top scorer Hwang Hee-chan, was afforded time and space on the edge of the Seagulls’ 18-yard box but his curling effort flew narrowly wide of the left post.

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil was left frustrated on the half-hour mark when Brighton midfielder Billy Gilmour escaped punishment after cynically halting Cunha’s off-the-ball run as Neto broke down the left.

Tempers then threatened to boil over on the touchline during a flashpoint sparked by a clash between Gilmour and Wolves defender Craig Dawson, which led to the visitors’ goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler being booked by referee Craig Pawson.

The fractious ending to a tight opening period persisted with Cunha receiving a yellow card for a challenge on Gilmour and then confronting the officials following the half-time whistle.

Brazil forward Cunha almost channelled his sense of injustice into the opening goal within seconds of the restart but his initial effort was repelled by Seagulls goalkeeper Jason Steele before he poked over the rebound.

Wolves skipper Kilman then diverted the ball on to the base of his own right post as he slid in to intercept Jack Hinshelwood’s cross before Neto was denied by Steele as the end-to-end action continued.

In-form Wolves were seeking to register four successive top-flight wins for the first time since January 1972 and looked the more likely to break the deadlock in the closing stages.

Neto flashed across goal before the onrushing Steele was fortunate to escape being rounded by Cunha and then kept out a powerful drive from Lemina.

What the papers say

Wolves have identified Chelsea striker Armando Broja as a potential target, The Guardian reports. The deal would become more likely if Chelsea sign another striker this transfer period, with the club linked to Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Brighton’s Evan Ferguson and Aston Villa’s Jhon Duran. Broja has only scored one goal for Chelsea in 13 games this season.

The Guardian says Newcastle will have to reconsider their transfer targets this year with midfielder Joelinton suffering a groin injury that looks likely to keep him out for several months.

Besiktas have Arsenal’s Portuguese defender Cedric Soares on their radar for a move this summer, according to the Daily Mail.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Rayan Ait-Nouri: The 22-year-old Wolves left-back has attracted interest from Arsenal and Liverpool, Football Transfers reports.

Thiago Alcantara: Brazilian team Flamengo and Saudi Pro League’s Al-Ettifaq are interested in the 32-year-old Liverpool midfielder. However the Reds are not ready to let him go, according to TeamTalk.

Boss Gary O’Neil insisted Wolves must maintain their focus after booking an FA Cup Black Country derby against West Brom.

Matheus Cunha’s penalty saw off Brentford 3-2 after extra time on Tuesday and sent Wolves into the fourth round.

Nelson Semedo and Nathan Fraser twice hit back for the hosts after goals from Nathan Collins and Neal Maupay in an entertaining replay.

Wolves now go to The Hawthorns on January 28 for the first Black Country derby in three years – and first with fans in attendance since 2012.

“As soon as we walked off I was thinking about Brighton (in the Premier League). I understand fans will be excited, it will be a big atmosphere, it hasn’t been played with fans for a while,” O’Neil said.

“I can’t wait to lead the team down there and see if we can progress again. There’s a Premier League game coming up and I have a very small tired group to do some work with before we go to Brighton.

“I have mixed feelings about the performance but I’m delighted with the win. The lads have worked unbelievably hard over the two ties. We’ve talked about taking the FA Cup seriously, we went down to 10 men at Brentford and tonight got a bit awkward for us.

“The players deserve credit for how they have approached the whole tie. We gave Brentford a bit of a lift by giving them two crazy goals.”

Collins, who joined Brentford from Wolves for £23million in the summer, opened the scoring after 13 minutes when he prodded in after Kristoffer Ajer’s shot was saved.

Semedo and Pablo Sarabia went close before Semedo levelled after 36 minutes when he tapped in after Thomas Strakosha saved his initial header.

Back came Brentford, though, and Maupay restored their lead six minutes into the second half after a VAR check for offside.

Yet Wolves equalised again with 17 minutes left, Fraser drilling into the corner three minutes after coming on.

It set up extra time and Shandon Baptiste had a shot turned on to the post by Jose Sa before Cunha won it in stoppage time of the first period when Pedro Neto was tripped in the box.

Brentford will now have Ivan Toney available when his eight-month suspension for betting breaches ends on Wednesday.

Boss Thomas Frank said: “It’s massive, no doubt. It’s like signing a Premier League striker who can score 20 goals because he’s proved it.

“Every team would be happy to sign a quality player like him. Ivan is a top player but he’s also very good at making the whole team better.

“Tonight we did a lot of things right. The first half was a bit direct from our side. I was very pleased with the second half and in extra time. In general we put a lot of effort into the game and we could have won.

“The game was decided by a penalty which, in my opinion, is not there. Ben (Mee) clearly hit the ball into Neto’s feet. It’s difficult to make a call but unfortunately I can’t alter that.”

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.

What the papers say

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite, 21, has found himself under the scope of Spanish giants Real Madrid, the Daily Mail reports. The England Under-21 international has played 17 games for the Toffees in the Premier League this season.

The Evening Standard says West Ham could make a move for 26-year-old Ajax and  Netherlands forward Steven Bergwijn. The former Tottenham player has scored eight goals in all competitions this year for Ajax.

One player who could be making the opposite journey from England to the Netherlands is Manchester United winger Facundo Pellistri, who has been linked with a loan move to PSV Eindhoven – and LA Galaxy – according to journalist  Fabrizio Romano, cited by Teamtalk.

Social media round-up

Real Madrid ‘to turn to Erling Haaland if they fail in Mbappe transfer but will only have to pay HALF his release fee’https://t.co/1JoTm4tiE4https://t.co/1JoTm4tiE4

— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) January 8, 2024

Players to watch

Hugo Ekitike: Wolves are reportedly interested in signing the 21-year-old Paris St Germain forward, according to French outlet L’Equipe.

Jonathan David: The 23-year-old Canada forward, currently at Lille in France, has attracted interest from Manchester United and Aston Villa, Football Transfers reports.

Gary O’Neil had no complaints with Joao Gomes’ red card at Brentford but he felt the Bees should have had two players sent off.

A rocket from Tommy Doyle kept Wolves in the FA Cup despite playing with 10 men for 81 minutes at Brentford.

They were trailing to Neal Maupay’s first-half goal when Doyle struck from 20 yards to secure a 1-1 draw.

In a niggly encounter, Gomes was given his marching orders for chopping down Bees captain Christian Norgaard.

But O’Neil pointed to a similar challenge from Mikkel Damsgaard on Doyle which went unpunished.

The Wolves boss also felt Keane Lewis-Potter should have been sent off for grabbing Nelson Semedo in a stoppage-time melee.

“Obviously I know Joao very well. It would look bad slowed down, it’s a nasty place to be kicked with the studs and I hope Norgaard is OK,” said O’Neil.

“But I know Joao has not meant for it to land like that. He’s a bit late. I’ve got no real complaints, it could have been a yellow, it could have been a red.

“But the tackle on Tommy Doyle was equally as bad, a straight leg on Tommy. And Lewis-Potter grabbing Semedo’s throat should have been a red card.

“I can’t believe VAR thought it wasn’t. Now we’ll miss one of our best midfielders for three games and one of our rivals get to keep two of theirs.”

Nevertheless, O’Neil hailed his players for battling back to secure a replay.

“I’m really pleased with performance of the players,” he added. “We played 90-odd minutes with 10 men, with the stoppage time at the end of each half.

“Away from home, going 1-0 down, it would have been easy for the players to let this one go. There was none of that. Everyone gave absolutely everything.”

Bees boss Thomas Frank felt his side had let a chance to progress at the first time of asking slip through their grasp.

“We can only blame ourselves today, there was a lack of quality all over the pitch,” he said.

“Sometimes you can’t always hit a top performance. Sometimes it’s not easy to play 11 against 10. It’s not a miracle by Wolves, although credit to them. But especially after being 1-0 we really should win the game.”

Frank had said before the match that he does not believe there should be replays in the FA Cup.

He added: “This is the worst outcome, in every aspect. I don’t understand why we have a replay.

“I simply don’t understand why no one in the football world has changed this. They need to take some more clever decisions.”

A rocket from Tommy Doyle kept Wolves in the FA Cup despite playing with 10 men for 81 minutes at Brentford.

Wanderers lost Joao Gomes to an early red card and were trailing to Neal Maupay’s first-half goal when Doyle struck from 20 yards to secure a 1-1 draw and a replay.

In a niggly encounter, Gomes was given his marching orders for chopping down Bees captain Christian Norgaard.

But Wolves could easily point to a similar challenge from Mikkel Damsgaard on Doyle which went unpunished.

Brentford were looking for a measure of revenge for the 4-1 defeat they were dealt by the same opposition in the Premier League nine days earlier.

They suffered a collective defensive meltdown in that loss and the nerves were hardly settled when goalkeeper David Strakosha, making only his third appearance of the season, passed the ball straight to Wolves forward Matheus Cunha.

The Brazilian managed to round Strakosha but ran into defender Mathias Jorgensen, who cleared the ball over his own crossbar.

Moments later Wolves found themselves a player light after Gomes caught Norgaard on the heel with his studs and was shown a straight red card by referee Tony Harrington.

It was a further injury blow for already-depleted Brentford with Denmark midfielder Norgaard unable to continue.

Former Wolves defender Nathan Collins, who was directly culpable for two of his old side’s goals in last week’s horror show, almost made amends at the right end of the pitch with a shot which curled narrowly over.

Then Bees midfielder Josh Dasilva, making his first appearance since suffering a hamstring injury in August, tested Wanderers keeper Jose Sa with a low, skidding drive before the hosts went ahead five minutes before half-time.

After Wolves failed to clear a Mathias Jensen free-kick, the ball ricocheted to the feet of Maupay who rifled it home from eight yards for his third goal of the season.

After the break Damsgaard’s shot was well blocked by Sa and Dasilva hit the side-netting before, almost out of nowhere, Wolves equalised.

A short corner was worked by Pedro Neto to Doyle on the edge of the area, with the England Under-21 midfielder taking a touch before lashing the ball left-footed into the top corner.

It was Doyle’s first goal for Wolves and he had a taste for more, only this time he cracked another drive straight into the face of Jensen, who had to go off after a concussion check.

Brentford could have won it late on but substitute Myles Peart-Harris side-footed wide and Sa saved Keane Lewis-Potter’s header from point-blank range.

A melee at the end of the match suggested these two teams are pretty sick of the sight of each other, which could at least make for a spicy replay in just over a week.

Eddie Howe has not given up hope of dragging Newcastle back into the race for a second successive top-four finish.

Howe, with the help of sizeable investment from the club’s Saudi-backed owners, transformed the club from Premier League strugglers to Champions League gatecrashers last season as they muscled aside usual suspects Liverpool – their opponents on Monday – Tottenham and Chelsea to secure a return to European football’s big time.

Their stay proved to be fleeting – defeat by AC Milan earlier this month ended their hopes of a place in the last 16 amid a poor run of form which has left them sitting in ninth place in the Premier League table.

However, asked if the top four was still a target for the current campaign, Howe said: “If that’s possible, then we will go for it. We haven’t written anything off.

“We’re frustrated with the last two results in particular because if we’d won those, we’d be right back in the mix. I see that as a missed opportunity and I know the players feel the same way.

“But we can’t look back, we can only look forward. It’s a challenging and busy month, but one that we need to embrace.”

Back-to-back league losses by lowly Luton and Nottingham Forest – their fifth and sixth defeats in seven games in all competitions – send the Magpies into an intensely difficult January under extreme pressure if they are to achieve their aims for the season.

They begin the new year with a trip to leaders Liverpool and after an FA Cup third-round trip to bitter rivals Sunderland, face club world champions Manchester City at St James’ Park.

Nevertheless, Howe remains undeterred amid the first, and to date relatively muted, rumblings of discontent since he was appointed in November 2021.

Asked about the club’s minimum expectation, he said: “The intention is to finish as high as we can and of course, European football will always be a target for us. I can’t speak on behalf of other people in terms of a minimum expectation.

“My minimum expectation is to achieve the best that we can, and we’ll work towards that on a daily basis.”

Howe has significant credit in the bank as a result of the progress he has made since taking over the reins relinquished by Steve Bruce, and he retains the support of the club’s owners, who accept that last season’s success represented a significant over-achievement in terms of their blueprint for lasting success.

The 46-year-old steered clear of much of the external praise which came his way then, and he intends to use the criticism currently circulating around him to fuel his quest to dispel it.

He said: “I block it out, but of course you know the narrative. I’m not stupid, you know the questions being asked and I think that does fuel me, of course it does.”

Gary O’Neil paid tribute to Mario Lemina after the midfielder missed Wolves’ impressive victory over Everton following the death of his father.

A third straight win for Wolves – for the first time in the Premier League for almost two years – saw them crush the Toffees 3-0.

The squad celebrated their goals – from Max Kilman, Matheus Cunha and Craig Dawson – with Lemina’s shirt with the midfielder having travelled to France to be with his family.

“We’re all enjoying today and then when you’re asked about Mario you get a sense of reality,” said O’Neil. “We’re here smiling and Mario is going through a really tough time. All our thoughts are with him.

“He was the first thing we spoke about afterwards. He is incredibly important to the team on the pitch and as a group around the place. There’s huge respect from the group for what he does. There’s no way we would be anywhere near 28 points without him.

“I’m 100 per cent serious when I say he can have as long as he needs. He has our full support and I hope him and his family can find some peace over the next few days.”

It condemned Everton to a third straight defeat and further highlighted Wolves’ rise under O’Neil. They were in the relegation zone at the end of 2022, but sit an impressive 11th a year later.

O’Neil added: “It was my favourite performance so far, it was as close to complete as we’ve had. Three games in six days is tough, but I’m delighted with the levels the lads managed to reach.”

Wolves – with nine goals in their last three games – are just one goal off last season’s tally of 31 and dominated from the start.

Hwang Hee-chan should have done better after a break from Cunha, but the hosts remained the aggressors and took the lead after 25 minutes.

James Tarkowski half-cleared a corner and when Cunha returned the ball from the right, Jordan Pickford produced a brilliant save to stop a Jarrad Branthwaite own goal – only for Kilman to scramble in the rebound.

It was just the captain’s second goal for Wolves – his other coming against Everton in November 2021 – and he celebrated by lifting Lemina’s shirt.

Everton were wretched and did not improve after the break, falling further behind after eight minutes when Cunha tapped in Hwang’s cross.

Hwang hit a post before Dawson added a third when he prodded in another Cunha centre.

Dwight McNeil’s drive rattled a post in Everton’s only moment of warning and Hwang and the returning Pedro Neto had goals disallowed as the hosts chased a fourth.

The Toffees sit fourth bottom, a point above the drop zone, having lost momentum following fourth straight wins earlier this month.

Boss Sean Dyche said: “They’ve had good results, especially at home, they played well and we were just off. I reminded the players they have come a long way and its only the second time we’ve been way off since Villa and that was the second game of the season.

“I don’t really like to question fixtures lists, but we know it’s a bit odd we have two league games until the end of January.

“When you are adding injuries it does get a bit more tough on the players. We put a lot into the last two performances and got nothing. You are wondering: ‘can they go again?’ and unfortunately we were left wanting.

“There’s a reality to what we all do. It’s not a lack of effort.”

Max Kilman’s first goal in two years inspired Wolves to a dominant win over struggling Everton.

The defender’s opener, Matheus Cunha’s tap in and Craig Dawson’s strike wrapped up an impressive 3-0 win at Molineux.

The squad celebrated with team-mate Mario Lemina’s shirt with the midfielder missing the game following the death of his father.

For the Toffees, their Christmas decline continued, four straight wins earlier in December have now been followed by three successive Premier League defeats and a Carabao Cup exit.

They remain a point above the relegation zone after an insipid and powderpuff performance.

Wolves – with nine goals in their last three games – are now unbeaten in eight at home and earned a third straight Premier League win for the first time in almost two years to remain 11th in an increasingly impressive season.

Boss Gary O’Neil stressed pre-game he did not see Everton as a struggling side – without their 10-point deduction the Toffees would be above Wolves – but the hosts were never troubled.

A early break from Cunha, with Hwang Hee-chan and Pablo Sarabia for company, ended with the South Korean forward being crowded out and unable to find a finish after rounding Jordan Pickford.

It was a waste yet Wolves kept probing and Cunha’s 20-yard effort dropped wide.

The hosts coped without Lemina, who returned to France on Friday, with Joao Gomes snapping at the Toffees in midfield.

As a result, Everton were nullified as an attacking force and it was little surprise when Wolves took the lead after 25 minutes.

The Toffees only half-cleared a corner with the ball recycled to Cunha on the right to deliver a low cross.

Pickford pulled off a brilliant reaction save to stop Jarrad Branthwaite turning the ball into his own net but, in the ensuing scramble, Kilman poked the ball in – dedicating the goal to Lemina by lifting his team-mate’s shirt to the heavens.

It was just the skipper’s second goal for Wolves in 128 appearances – with his other also against Everton in November 2021.

There was little response from the visitors, bar Dominic Calvert-Lewin shooting across goal, and Wolves remained comfortable despite being unbale to fashion more first-half chances.

Passive and reactionary, Sean Dyche’s outfit desperately needed to improve after the break, but they fell further behind eight minutes into the second half.

Top scorer Hwang underlined why his team-mates will need to fill the void now he heads to the Asian Cup with South Korea – potentially not returning until mid-February – when he teed up Cunha.

Sarabia’s cute pass set him free on the right to outpace Michael Keane and it was a simple ball for Cunha to accept the gift for his sixth goal of the season.

It was the cue for Wolves to run riot and Hwang struck a post before Dawson added a third on the hour.

Everton struggled to clear and, when Cunha returned a fine cross, Dawson was left inexplicably unmarked to stick out a leg and find the corner.

The hosts’ only clean sheet of the season came in their 1-0 win at Everton in August, but they had little to fear at Molineux, even if Dwight McNeil rattled a post from distance.

Gomes and Hwang tested Pickford before the striker had a goal chalked off for offside, while the hosts also had the luxury of welcoming back Pedro Neto after a two-month injury absence.

The substitute even had a comeback goal ruled out for offside as Wolves were forced to settle for three.

Rangers have announced the loan signing of Portuguese forward Fabio Silva from Wolves until the end of the season.

Silva is set to join Rangers from January 1, subject to international clearance, and will become the first new arrival under manager Philippe Clement.

After joining Wolves from Porto in the summer of 2020 for what was then a club-record fee in the region of £35.6million, Silva had loan spells at both Anderlecht and PSV Eindhoven last season.

Silva, 21, has made more than 60 Premier League appearances, the last coming as a late substitute in the defeat at Sheffield United on November 4.

“I am very happy, when I spoke to people about Glasgow and about Rangers, everyone told me good things about the club and the history,” Silva said on the Rangers website.

“I played here once with Porto in the Europa League, so I already know the warm club, the environment and the stadium, so everything is perfect.

“I am very happy to be here, and I can’t wait to start training with the team.”

Clement is confident Silva can make an impact at Ibrox.

“He is a highly rated striker and it is fantastic to have him joining our squad for the remainder of the season,” the Rangers boss said.

“He is a young player who already has some great experience in his career in both England and in Europe. I am looking forward to working with him moving forward.”

Wolves sporting director Matt Hobbs feels Silva will benefit from the move to Scotland.

“This is a simple one – Fabio needs to play,” Hobbs said on the Wolves website.

“He is not getting enough opportunities here, so it’s a chance to go out and score goals and we’ll look at the future in the summer.

“Rangers don’t have a buying option, but hopefully he plays and scores goals and we’ll see where we’re at in the summer.”

Wolves boss Gary O’Neil hopes Hwang Hee-chan will be fit to face Everton on Saturday despite going off injured at Brentford.

Hwang hit two first-half goals in the 4-1 win in west London but limped off before half-time with a back problem.

The 27-year-old has scored 10 Premier League goals this season, although Wolves will miss him for up to four matches when he jets off with South Korea for the Asia Cup next month.

“It’s just a back spasm, he’ll be fine for the Asia Cup. Hopefully we can get him back for our game against Everton as well,” said O’Neil.

“We’ll see. It’s a tight turnaround but it was only a back spasm and he’s moving a bit better than he was when he came off. Let’s see how he does over the next couple of days.

“It’s 10 goals for him now, so an unbelievable return. But I do have big faith in everybody, whether we have to play someone else or whether we have to use some of the under-23s or under-21s who are already on the bench then no problem.”

Mario Lemina and Jean-Ricner Bellegarde were also on target at the Gtech Stadium as Brentford imploded defensively.

Yoane Wissa pulled one back but the return of Ivan Toney following his suspension for breaking betting rules, likely to be at home to Nottingham Forest on January 20, cannot come soon enough with the Bees hovering just four points above the relegation zone.

“I think either if we were number one in the league, bottom or mid-table, we would look forward to getting Ivan back,” said boss Thomas Frank.

“It’s getting closer. We had an in-house game the other day and he scored two goals. I looked at him and he looked pretty good. It will be just like a new signing.”

Brentford boss Thomas Frank told Nathan Collins he will never have a worse match after his horror show in the 4-1 defeat against the defender’s former club Wolves.

Collins arguably had his best game for Wolves – but unfortunately the centre-half left Molineux to join Brentford in June.

The Bees’ record signing endured a nightmare evening, handing Wanderers two goals with terrible passes, as Brentford slipped to a fourth straight defeat.

“I told him it will never be worse than this, with a smile on my face,” said Frank.

“He’s been a very positive player for us this season, he’s performed very well for us. It happens.

“Tonight he will be down but tomorrow it’s a fact that the sun will rise again. I expect him to walk into training with his head held high.”

Having already let Mario Lemina score with a free header, Brentford contrived to gift Wolves a second from their own kick-off.

They played the ball back towards goalkeeper Mark Flekken but Collins left his backpass short and, barely 10 seconds after the restart, Hwang Hee-chan had rounded the Dutchman and tapped into an empty net.

Brentford pulled one back immediately through Yoane Wissa but when Collins and Mads Roerslev allowed Toti’s clearing header to float through to Hwang, the South Korean flicked the ball over Ethan Pinnock and finished past Flekken.

Wolves lost Hwang to a back spasm moments before the interval, but his replacement Jean-Ricner Bellegarde wrapped up their victory with 11 minutes left.

Collins was again the fall guy when his lazy pass across the face of goal was intercepted by Matheus Cunha, who played in Bellegarde for a simple finish.

Brentford could soon be looking nervously over their shoulders at the relegation battle after a sixth defeat in seven matches left them just four points above Luton in 18th.

“This is a good club, a good team and we have character in abundance and we’ll go again,” added Frank.

“A big thing is to stay calm and believe in the work we do and the processes. That’s what we’ve done in the past and that will get us out of this minor run of poor results.”

Victory completed a festive double for Wolves following their Christmas Eve home win over Chelsea, and was their first success in London in 15 attempts.

“I’m really pleased,” said boss Gary O’Neil. “Although we didn’t have loads of control of the ball we were able to punish them.”

The raucous travelling support sung O’Neil’s name throughout the second half.

He added: “The fans have been incredible for me and I have unbelievable respect for the fans. I understand how underwhelming it might have been when Gary O’Neil was announced as their manager but the connection with them has probably been my biggest positive so far.

“I’m sure if we keep winning 4-1 they’ll keep singing my name. We’ve had two fantastic results for them to enjoy over the festive period.”

Hwang Hee-chan scored twice as Brentford forgot how to defend and Wolves took full advantage with a 4-1 win in west London.

Hwang took his tally for the season to 11 as Wanderers followed up their Christmas Eve win over Chelsea by collecting another festive three points.

It was a first victory in the capital in 15 attempts for Wolves, their last coming in a 2-0 win at Tottenham in February last year.

But it was gifted to them by a Brentford side who could soon be looking nervously over their shoulders at the relegation battle after a fourth straight defeat and a sixth in seven matches.

The Bees are riddled with injuries and suspensions – they had 10 players unavailable here – but there was still no excuse for some alarming defensive errors.

Nathan Collins arguably had his best game for Wolves; unfortunately the centre-half left Molineux to join Brentford in June.

The Bees’ record signing endured a nightmare against his former club, handing them two goals with terrible passes on an evening to forget.

Wolves were inches from taking the lead when Joao Gomes played Hwang in behind and his low cross was sliced narrowly over his own crossbar by Vitaly Janelt.

But from the corner, in the 13th minute, they did find the net after the ball was cleared as far as Pablo Sarabia, whose cross was met by a header from the totally unmarked Mario Lemina.

What came next was an utter farce from the hosts as they played the ball back from their own kick-off towards goalkeeper Mark Flekken.

Collins’ backpass to the Dutchman was woefully underhit and, barely 10 seconds after the restart, Hwang had rounded him and tapped into an empty net.

The crowd at the Gtech Stadium had barely caught their breath again when the Bees pulled one back, Yoane Wissa latching on to Neal Maupay’s clever flick and firing home.

Unbelievably, it could have gone from goalless to 2-2 in the space of five minutes but Jose Sa kept out a close-range header from Janelt.

Instead Wolves doubled their lead again when Toti’s powerful, clearing header was allowed to float between Collins and Mads Roerslev and straight to Hwang.

The South Korean turned, lifted the ball over the covering Ethan Pinnock and fired the ball past the exposed Flekken into the bottom corner.

Brentford could have pulled another back before half-time but Collins headed a Saman Ghoddos corner over and Maupay fired wide after being fed by Wissa in stoppage time.

Wolves lost Hwang to a back injury moments before the interval, but his replacement Jean-Ricner Bellegarde wrapped up their victory with 11 minutes left.

Collins was again the fall guy when his lazy pass across the face of goal was intercepted by Matheus Cunha, who played in Bellegarde for a simple finish.

Mauricio Pochettino lamented Chelsea’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal after a flurry of missed chances contributed to a 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Molineux.

Mario Lemina headed the hosts into the lead early in the second half, rising to nod Pablo Sarabia’s corner into the far corner after the visiting defence had failed to make a serious attempt to clear the ball.

It was fair reward after a first half in which Gary O’Neil’s side held Chelsea off well, though they were helped significantly in their task by wayward finishing, most notably from Raheem Sterling who spurned a golden chance when he shot straight at Jose Sa instead of playing in Cole Palmer for a tap-in.

It was an inexplicable lapse in judgement from the England forward, who after a lively start cut a frustrated figure for the rest of the game, culminating in a yellow card for simulation in the final moments as he appealed for a penalty.

Chelsea had 16 shots on goal but tested Sa only infrequently as once again this season possession around the penalty area and decent sights of goal were not capitalised upon.

Matt Doherty added a second in the third minute of added time after Benoit Badiashile’s atrocious attempted clearance.

By the time substitute Christopher Nkunku headed his first Chelsea goal on his Premier League debut, there were few away fans who had remained inside Molineux to see it.

“We made a mistake, we need to blame ourselves,” said Pochettino. “That’s why we didn’t win today, because in the first half we had the chances to score. In the Premier League if you’re not clinical enough when you have chances, always you can concede.

“We didn’t compete in the first five minutes of the second half, we conceded too many corners. In these moments it’s about competing better and being stronger.

“I agree we’re our own enemy. I don’t want to take credit away from Wolves. They scored and they did their job. But in the first half we were the better side. And because of lack of capacity to score, we didn’t win the game.

Wolves had been tipped to struggle after O’Neil replaced former boss Julen Lopetegui days before the start of the season, with financial constraints placed on their transfer business by Financial Fair Play regulations over the summer.

They now sit level in the table on points with Chelsea boasting a near identical league record, despite Pochettino’s side having spent upwards of £1billion on recruitment during the last 18 months.

One of the summer’s big-money buys Nicolas Jackson, who cost £32million from Villarreal but has scored only seven times in the Premier League, was greeted with ironic cheers from visiting supporters when he was substituted, with frustration growing with his patchy, inconsistent form since arriving at Stamford Bridge.

“I didn’t hear the fans,” said Pochettino. “(But) always it’s about expectation, how you manage that. A striker that arrives at his age, a new league like the Premier League, it’s (important) not to blame him.

“The frustration from the fans you can accept. But we need to blame all together. Football is a collective sport and we cannot blame only one.

“But he is young, it’s his first season in the Premier League and  the expectation is massive. There is pressure to play for Chelsea.”

Wolves boss O’Neil reflected on a game that his side deserved to win despite having to name an inexperienced bench with players unavailable.

“It was a tough day for us with a call from the doctor this morning around illnesses,” he said. “I had to call up some young lads last minute to make up the squad.

“Going against what Chelsea had, especially late on in the game, I thought it might have been tricky for us once we started to tire.

“But the lads manage to produce another fantastic performance here in front of the home fans and we deserved the win really.”

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