In terms of expected temperature this was as tepid an encounter as an unseasonally chilly Lancashire evening until it was enlivened by a superbly taken goal and a little late VAR drama.
With a sumptuous right-foot volley Raúl Jiménez became the first Wolves player since John Richards in 1975-76 to score 17 goals in a top-flight season, before Chris Wood redeemed a horrendous late miss with the injury-time penalty that earned his side a point.
Nick Pope has often come to his side’s rescue this season but he had no chance when a rebound from James Tarkowski sat up perfectly for Jiménez to strike. With the ball in the air after Matt Doherty’s cross was blocked it was still a difficult chance, but the Mexican got his timing and his angles exactly right, putting power into the shot and finding the corner the goalkeeper could not reach.
It looked a worthy winner but Burnley never give up, and in the five minutes of added time Wood missed a open goal with a header from three yards out before getting lucky when his attempted overhead kick distracted Doherty sufficiently to let the ball strike his arm. Mike Dean had little hesitation in pointing to the spot, and VAR backed him up, one view in particular showing Doherty’s arm outstretched for no apparent reason.
Wood stuck the penalty away confidently to extend Burnley’s unbeaten run to six matches and leave Wolves three points behind Manchester United, their slim Champions League hopes now fading.
“We played well, we controlled the middle of the park, but you don’t always get the result you deserve,” said Nuno Espírito Santo, Wolves’ manager. “Of course a goal so late is hard to take but the reality now is that we have to look to our next two matches.”
Sean Dyche said he was pleased to take a point from such a good side, and praised his goalscorer’s mentality and determination. “It just shows Woody’s strength of character, to miss that header then stand up to take the penalty,” the Burnley manager said. “He’s been out for a while but he grew into the game.”
Wolves spent the first period showing why they are sixth in the Premier League table, with Conor Coady spraying 60-yard passes from the back and finding willing runners in Adama Traoré and Ruben Vinagre. Jiménez brought the first save of the game with a far-post header from a Traoré cross, and with Daniel Podence beating Erik Pieters with a handsome turn on the opposite flank it was clear before the first drinks break that Burnley were in for a thorough defensive examination.
Charlie Taylor was given a torrid time by Traoré on the Burnley left, though the full-back was attempting to set up an attack when he twisted a knee after half an hour. Though Dyche has been struggling with injuries and out-of-contract players, he actually had a ready solution to this problem – switching Pieters from the right wing to his more usual spot at left-back and allowing Johann Gudmundsson to come on in his natural role on the right.
Wolves looked a bit more direct in the second half, Traoré shooting across goal when finding a teammate might have been a better idea and Jiménez clearing the bar after Diogo Jota and Podence had combined neatly.
Romain Saïss was a tad lucky to get away with a muscular challenge on Josh Brownhill in the area, possibly helped by the fact the Burnley player stayed on his feet and attempted a shot. Had Brownhill made more of the contact the referee would have had a much more difficult decision to make. He ended up with one anyway, in the last minute of injury time when Wood’s high boot could have constituted dangerous play, but Dean got it right. Wolves could have no argument about the penalty or the shared points.