Diego Costa holds back furious Wolves star after red card for pushing assistant referee
WOLVES 2-4 LEEDS UNITED: Matheus Nunes was red carded despite not being on the pitch as his side lost to the Whites in a roller coaster Premier League clash on Saturday
Diego Costa had to play peacemaker after Wolves teammate Matheus Nunes was sent off during their ill-tempered 4-2 loss to Leeds on Saturday.
Despite being an unused substitute in the damaging defeat at Molineux, Portuguese midfielder Nunes saw red in stoppage time after he appeared to barge into a linesman while protesting Leeds' controversial fourth goal. Wolves, who'd already seen left-back Jonny sent off in the dying embers with the scoreline 3-2, were adamant that the visitors' last effort shouldn't have counted.
Referee Michael Salisbury consulted the VAR monitor and despite Marc Roca appearing to pull Adama Traore's shirt, he stuck to his original decision to award the goal. Amid Leeds' jubilant celebrations, Salisbury marched over to the dugout area and showed Nunes a straight red card, leaving fellow sub Costa to calm his team-mate down before he got himself into more trouble.
Wolves' anger was also demonstrated after the final whistle, as manager Julen Lopetegui and captain Ruben Neves confronted the officials and pleaded for an explanation on the Molineux turf.
“Today is not easy for me or the players," said Lopetegui post-game. "Above all, our fans deserve the same respect as the rest of the teams in the Premier League.
He also insisted that the official barged into Nunes rather than the other way around, and that the Black Country club will appeal.
Lopetegui will also be keen to find out why his team performed so poorly in a game which they went into as favourites.
Jack Harrison, Luke Ayling, Rasmus Kristensen and Rodrigo were the men on the scoresheet for Leeds as the Yorkshire outfit clinched a roller coaster 4-2 victory which lifts them out of the Premier League relegation zone, boosting their survival hopes under new boss Javi Gracia. Jonny's long-range lob and Matheus Cunha's first goal for Wolves gave them hope in second half but it wasn't enough to salvage a draw.
Just as Wolves fans dreamed of an equaliser, Jonny was sent off for an awfully-timed tackle on Ayling. The hosts lost their composure on and off the pitch, having already been 1-0 down after only six minutes in what proved to be a nightmare afternoon on home soil.
As they looked to respond in the first half, Nelson Semedo went down under a challenge from Leeds' Junior Firpo. Salisbury and VAR official David Coote disagreed, adding more frustration for Lopetegui's side.
"It’s a clear penalty [in the first half] – very, very, very clear. [Junior Firpo] doesn’t touch the ball. The last match in Newcastle was a red card and penalty, maybe, but you only receive apologies. We don’t want apologies."
Exactly 12 months ago in the same fixture, Leeds had hit back from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Molineux thanks to Ayling's injury-time winner. Victory was hardly straightforward this time around but a frenzied win in a game which threatened to swing either way leaves Gracia's men 14th, just a point and a place behind Wolves with a game in hand.
As much as the losing side on Saturday have improved under Lopetegui, home defeats by Bournemouth and Leeds have stopped them from pulling away. A four-point gap to the visitors has almost been wiped out in a survival battle which has captured almost half of the division and left them three points above the drop zone.
Gracia told Match of the Day: "I enjoyed it - more so in the first half. In the second half, we suffered a lot. We knew before coming here it would be a very demanding game. To win here, my players did many things well. They deserve the reward they got."