Adama Traore’s first goal in 11 months saw Wolverhampton Wanderers secure their place in the next round of the FA Cup as they defeated Crystal Palace 1-0.
The Spain international’s thunderous strike was enough to inflict a third-round exit for a second season in a row for the 2016 finalists following an ultimately lacklustre performance.
Traore’s symbolic throwing away of his gloves on a cold night within the early embers tie indicated he was ready for business as Palace struggled to cope with his pace and power throughout the ninety.
A quiet first 15 minutes culminated in Fabio Silva missing a guilt-edged chance, somehow failing to convert a free header from a few yards out.
A few moments later, Palace rallied to the other end of the pitch which ended with Eberechi Eze firing just over to send a stark warning to the hosts.
However, the visitors struggled to contain Traore who ran riot throughout the first half. The 24-year-old flashed a shot wide on 17 minutes after cutting in from the left before stinging the palms of Jack Butland with a fierce effort just three minutes later.
Butland was to be a busy man for the rest of the period. Nelson Semedo was one of the Wolves personnel to force him into action again, his low drive having to be matched by the England international.
A long wait now over
The moment of the game came on 35 minutes when Traore cut inside once again to this time unleash a rocket past the Palace custodian.
That was his first goal since February when he netted against Espanyol in the Europa League. A contender for the strike of the round, the strike was enough to see the home side go into the interval 1-0 up.
His explosive bursts continued in the second half, reigniting fans’ memories of his devastating form of last season. His roadrunner-like pace saw him trouble the Palace backline even more in the second half.
As the clock ticked to 60 minutes, he beat Patrick Van Aanholt on the flank before delivering a cross that forced Butland to make a point-blank save despite Leander Dendoncker’s best attempts to shovel the ball home.
With 20 minutes left, Roy Hodgson threw on Wilfred Zaha to try and rescue the game for Palace. He did indeed inject some pace into the visiting attack, pushing back the Wolves defence for the first time in the tie.
However, it was too little too late for Eagles as they succumbed to a well-oiled Wolves outfit who ran out 1-0 winners.
Boss Nuno Espirito Santo will have learnt a lot about his side with a number of players putting in some solid shifts, such as Pedro Neto who hassled and harried all night.