Wolves claimed three huge points yesterday against Southampton – and Diego Costa showed that he still has an important role to play this season.
Wanderers beat the Saints, after falling behind in the match.
Carlos Alcaraz – a former Wolves transfer target – gave the hosts the lead.
Wolves then saw Mario Lemina sent off in controversial fashion.
But Julen Lopetegui made some positive changes at half-time and throughout the second-half. And the players were able to turn the game on its head.
Jan Bednarek scored an own goal, before Joao Gomes – making his Wolves debut – grabbed the winner late on.
Lopetegui’s changes were spot on, and one man who must come in for great credit is Costa.
The 34-year-old entered the action midway through the second-half, replacing Matheus Cunha.
The star was a superb focal point, and brought those around him into play.
He almost scored, before Adama Traore forced the own goal from Bednarek.
Some fans expressed their surprised seeing Costa coming on before Raul Jimenez.
On his decision to turn to Costa, Lopetegui said (via Birmingham Mail): “We think that it was better to put Diego inside.
“I am happy with the work of Raul, with Cunha. Diego has experience in these kinds of matches and he showed what we needed in the second half. With one player less, he has lived this kind of situation. He was important.”
Costa fully vindicated the manager’s decision – and served up a reminder that he still has a big part to play for Wolves this season.
Diego Costa’s cameo showed he still has a big part to play for Wolves
Following the signing of Cunha and the return to fitness of Jimenez, it has felt as though Costa’s minutes are about to dry up.
The £50,000-a-week star may be third-choice striker. But yesterday he did look good leading the line when he came on. He was more effective in the game than Cunha.
Ultimately, Cunha is not an out-and-out striker, and so that means Costa still has lots to offer Lopetegui and Wolves as one of only two actual centre-forwards.
There’s going to be occasions where Costa is needed more than Jimenez or Cunha.
Yesterday was the perfect example. With Wolves being down a man, you need your warriors out there.