A dramatic climax at Molineux produced scenes of stark contrast – with Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo being sent to the stands for racing to celebrate the winner with his players, as Puel put his hands over his face to show the strain of defeat.
Diogo Jota completed a hat-trick in injury time to snatch a thrilling victory for Wolves, who punished a dire Leicester defensive display to increase the pressure on Foxes boss Claude Puel.
Leicester attempted to play offside in the final added minute and Jota was left unmarked to turn in a Raul Jimenez cross, moving his side to eighth in the Premier League table, a place above their opponents.
The Portuguese forward had opened the scoring by prodding home at the back post, with Ryan Bennett heading a second to prompt chants of “sacked in the morning” being aimed at Puel.
Clearly angry in the opening 45 minutes, the Leicester boss saw his side hit back within six minutes of the restart – first through Demarai Gray’s solo run and finish, and then a Conor Coady own goal.
But after digging themselves out of trouble, Leicester’s defence was again undone by a Ruben Neves long ball for Jota to power in his second, only for Wes Morgan to head a late equaliser which appeared to have earned them a point that had seemed so unlikely for much of the game.
Wolves, who beat Leicester 4-3 the last time this fixture was played in the top flight at Molineux in 2003, had other ideas and, in a chaotic finish, Jota won it with Leicester again a mess at the back.
Questions for Puel and Leicester
Puel is the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post but his side came into the fixture with three wins from their past five league games.
Criticism from the Foxes fanbase suggests a dislike of a pragmatic style of play but his side were simply charitable on Saturday, with the Frenchman describing the display as “naive”.
While Wolves were intense in their play early on, each time they came forward they seemed to have the visitors chasing shadows, with Morgan exposed at times and Danny Simpson punished as Jota stole in to prod the opener from six yards.
Leicester had been competitive in the opening 45 minutes – Jamie Vardy almost turning home after robbing Rui Patricio, while Gray tested the Wolves keeper.
But they have conceded the opening goal in a league-high 15 games this season – a habit of making life difficult for themselves that may have been behind Puel angrily screaming instructions on the sideline.
Whatever he said at half-time worked, though, and perhaps shows he still holds influence in the dressing room because within six minutes his side were level when Harvey Barnes – making his first Premier League start – fired in off Coady.
Again though, a lack of pressure on Neves and the ease with which Jota ran clear to make it 3-2 summed up the constant lack of defensive instinct, though their spirit in again coming back through Morgan’s close-range header was a positive.
Centre-back Harry Maguire had to leave the field because of injury, which is another headache for Puel – but he has bigger problems and will again face questions about his future.
He could be forgiven for sitting on the team bus wondering how his side could be so slack time and again in this fixture.
Wolves overcome weaknesses in style
Jota’s finish sent Molineux – and Nuno – wild as their season took another positive step.
The Portuguese manager may get over his dismissal quickly because he has cultivated a committed spirit in his side and no other team has scored more injury-time winners than Wolves’ three this term.
However, there was plenty not to like about his side in what was a confused display in many ways.
Brilliant early on, notably Joao Moutinho’s class in assisting the opening two goals, they were rewarded with a cushion – but they stopped playing for pockets of the first half, giving Leicester chances and hope.
Wolves remain without a clean sheet in 15 league outings and Morgan’s leveller means 11 of the past 19 goals they have conceded have come from set-plays.
But perhaps such moments of weakness can be expected from a side who have lost five of their past seven home league games and, crucially, they found a way to overcome them and win in the Premier League for the first time in 2019.
In Moutinho and Neves they have cultured gems, while Jota’s endless energy and the selfless nature of Jimenez up front create a threat.
For all that was wrong with parts of this display, there is so much for Wolves fans to like in what is proving to be a superb season – not least the fact they witnessed one of their players score a top-flight hat-trick for the first time since John Richards netted three against Leicester in 1977.
‘An unbelievable game’ – manager reaction
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: “Very good game, but a game we have to look at. Everyone enjoys the result, a fantastic game of football with two teams playing to win the game.
“After our advantage, we should manage the game better – but in football it is never finished.”
Leicester manager Claude Puel: “It was an unbelievable game. I think we have a lot of different feelings in this game.
“We started with poor intentions and conceded two early goals. We didn’t manage the game at the end, we were naive in our goals and our management at the end of the game.”
Man of the match – Diego Jota (Wolves)
Jota joins Ronaldo – the stats
- Wolves were two goals up at half-time for only the fourth time in the Premier League, and they have won all four of those games.
- Leicester have lost five of their past eight league matches after going six games without defeat before that (W2 D4).
- Wolves’ Diogo Jota has had a hand in six goals in his past five league appearances (five goals, one assist).
- Jota is the second Portuguese player to score a Premier League hat-trick after former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo.
- Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel conceded his 200th, 201st and 202nd Premier League goals in his 156th game in the competition. It took his father – Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel – 241 games to hit the 200 goals conceded mark in the English top flight.
- Joao Moutinho is the first Wolves player to provide two assists in a Premier League game since Kevin Doyle against Swansea in April 2012.
Wolves go to Shrewsbury Town in the FA Cup next Saturday, while Leicester have a weekend off and next face Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on 30 January.
Source: BBC News