Polish striker Michal Zyro bagged a brace on his first Molineux appearance as Wolverhampton Wanderers edged out Fulham in a five-goal thriller tonight.
The former Legia Warsaw forward, who made his debut for Wolves in the FA Cup at West Ham at the weekend, scored twice inside thirteen minutes to give Kenny Jackett’s side a dream start. The hosts had actually had to weather a couple of nervy moments at the outset, where Moussa Dembele – in for the injured Cauley Woodrow – could have showed more composure in front of goal but Zyro showed Fulham how to finish, clinically converting Jordan Graham’s cut-back from the left flank to open the scoring on six minutes.
The Polish forward then made it two six minutes later but Fulham were furious after they looked to have played him offside. The assistant’s flag stayed down allowing Zyro to race onto Connor Coady’s ball over the top and fire through Andy Lonergan’s legs. The Fulham goalkeeper denied the flying forward a hat-trick with a fine fingertip save a minute later, before Slavisa Jokanovic’s side rallied and started to put together some promising moves.
Alex Kacaniklic wriggled away from three Wolves defenders before seeing his goalbound shot deflected wide by a fourth, before Danny Baath’s desperate block denied Dembele a goal after the French forward had linked up impressively with Kacaniklic. Fulham were attacking with purpose and they found a route back into the contest when Lasse Vigen Christensen headed a fine cross from Jazz Richards into the far corner midway through the first half. McCormack fired right across the face of goal immediately afterwards as the Whites went in search of a leveller, but the lively Zyro wasn’t being kept quiet and would have had a third had he not wildly blazed over from eight yards out at the other end.
Lonergan saved brilliantly again from Zyro right on the half-time whistle, but Wolves had just emerged unscathed after Ethan Ebanks-Landell had nodded Luke Garbutt’s cross centimetres wide of the post in a panicked attempt at a clearance. Fulham came out full of ambition after the interval with McCormack setting the tone by drilling wide from 30 yards, but their attacking intentions were undermined by more poor defending from a set-piece.
The visitors couldn’t clear Graham’s corner and stood off Matt Doherty as he took a touch 35 yards from goal. The full back punished them ruthlessly with a thunderous drive into the bottom corner to restore Wolves’ two goal cushion. Rajiv la Parra nearly added a fourth from a similar distance but his long-range effort rattled the woodwork before Lonergan saved well from Zyro again. The overworked Fulham goalkeeper then kept out an Ebanks-Landell header from a free-kick before van la Parra inexplicably failed to find the target from three yards as he followed up.
Jokanovic made a double change to try and alter the complexion of the contest sending on Emerson Hyndman and Ryan Fredericks and it paid immediate dividends. Fulham’s second goal of the evening followed some mesmerising left wing play from Dan Burn of all people, the tall centre back squaring for McCormack to rifle home his fifteenth of the season from twenty yards and boost hope of a comeback.
The visitors probed for another opening, with Jokanovic sending on Matt Smith as an additional focal point for their attacks, but save for a rather tame Jamie O’Hara effort, clear-cut chances proved elusive. Wolves held firm for a fourth win in a row, with Jokanovic was left ruing costly mistakes – not least by the officials.
And, although McCormack scored from 20 yards with just over 15 minutes to play, Wolves were able to hold on.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-2-3-1): Ikeme; Iorfa, Doherty, Baath, Ebanks-Landell; Coady, McDonald; van la Parra (Le Fondre 89), Graham (Byrne 86), Edwards; Zyro (Henry 83). Subs (not used): Martinez, Golbourne, Saville, Price.
GOALS: Zyro (6, 13), Doherty (48).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Lonergan; Richards (Fredericks 72), Garbutt, Hutchinson, Burn; O’Hara, Christensen (Smith 84), Cairney, Kacaniklic (Hyndman 71); McCormack, Dembele. Subs (not used): Lewis, Stearman, Ream, Williams.
BOOKED: Christensen, Burn, Hyndman.
GOALS: Christensen (24), McCormack (74).
REFEREE: Andy Madley (West Yorkshire).