By Richard Morgan
Football journalist - @Richiereds1976
Wolves 1-0 Fulham: Leander Dendoncker strike keeps hosts' European hopes alive
Highlights and report: Belgium international scores winner
Last Updated: 04/05/19 7:08pm
Leander Dendoncker's late strike saw Wolves beat Fulham 1-0 at Molineux to all-but secure a seventh-placed Premier League finish, and with it a chance of European qualification next season.
The Belgian's impressive volleyed finish with 15 minutes to go was enough to see off already-relegated Fulham as Nuno Espirito Santo's side moved four points clear of Everton in eighth, although ninth-placed Leicester could still overtake them if they win their final two games.
Wolves: Patricio (6), Doherty (8), Bennett (6), Boly (6), Coady (6), Jonny (6), Neves (6), Moutinho (9), Dendoncker (8), Jimenez (6), Jota (7)
Subs: Norris (6), Vinagre (6), Kilman (6)
Fulham: Rico (7), Christie (8), Le Marchand (7), Chambers (6), Ream (6), Bryan (7), Sessegnon (7), Cairney (6), Anguissa (6), Babel (6), Mitrovic (6)
Subs: Elliott (6), Ayite (6)
Man of the match: Joao Moutinho
If Wolves do cement seventh place, it means if Manchester City beat Watford in the FA Cup final later this month, they will progress into the Europa League qualifying rounds and a first appearance in Europe since 1980.
How Wolves maintained their Euro hopes
For some reason, Wolves have struggled against teams in the bottom half of the table this season, in stark contrast to their impressive form against the top-six sides, and it was no different in the first half of this clash.
As expected, the hosts dominated both possession and territory before the break, but without really testing Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico, who had a relatively quiet first 45 minutes.
The closest Wolves actually came to making a first-half breakthrough was when, just past the half-hour mark, they worked a left-wing corner short to Joao Moutinho. However, Dendoncker was only able to head the playmaker's inviting cross against the bar from six yards out.
For long periods of the second half it looked as though Scott Parker's men may actually leave the West Midlands with a remarkable fourth clean sheet in a row, that is until a rare moment of quality in the game.
The visitors gave away possession in a dangerous area, allowing Matt Doherty and Moutinho to play a neat one-two down the right. And, from the wing-back's inch-perfect pull back, there was Dendoncker to cushion a brilliant volley past a helpless Rico at his near post for his second league goal of the season.
As for Fulham, the most noteworthy moment of their whole afternoon came with just a minute to go when Parker brought on Harvey Elliot, who at 16 years and 30 days old became the youngest player ever in Premier League history.
Wolves were unchanged for a third game in a row. However, boss Nuno Espirito Santo did hand third-choice 'keeper Will Norris a place on the bench.
Fulham were without full-back Denis Odoi, who suffered concussion in the club's 1-0 win over Cardiff last Saturday, with Cyrus Christie replacing the left-back in their only change from that win.
The England U17 international midfielder beat the previous record of 16 years and 65 days set by another former Fulham player, Matthew Briggs, in 2007.
- Fulham have lost 25 Premier League games this season, the most by a newly promoted side since Derby County in 2007-08 (29 defeats)
- No player has more assists for Wolves in all competitions this season than Matt Doherty (8)
- Wolves have seen two players receive 10+ yellow cards this season (Diogo Jota and Ryan Bennett), one of only two clubs to do so along with Watford
- This was Fulham's 16th away Premier League defeat of the season - only Burnley in 2009-10 have ever lost more in a single season (17)
- Wolves named their 14th unchanged Premier League starting XI this season - no side has done so more often (also Burnley on 14)
- Among defenders, only Liverpool's Andrew Robertson (11) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (10) have been involved in more Premier League goals this season Wolves' Matt Doherty (9; 4 goals, 5 assists)
Nuno: "It's nothing to do with the table, it's the how. We started with 18 players plus the goalkeepers.
"Training every day, working every day, competing at all the games, the how is much more important.
"To do it requires the commitment of the players and staff - everyone. The chef who prepares the chicken after the game is important.
"It started two years ago and we will never forget where we came from. The FA Cup still has to be played, it would be stupid to think about that (Europe)."
Parker: "Not just for me, as a club ahead of what's going to be a massive year, we need to have a clear idea of what way we are going to go.
"We're seven days away from ending the season and a lot of planning needs to go into next year. I'm sure it'll come in due course.
"We have shown real improvement and results have suggested that as well. Our main focus is planning for next year and what will be a massive campaign for us.
"My message has always been the same. I've enjoyed every minute of it. I want to be a manager and if it's at Fulham, perfect. If it isn't I'll be a manager somewhere else. The owners will make the best decision for the club."
Pundit - Matt Le Tissier
"No more than Wolves deserved, it has been a terrific season. They were not at their best or most fluent today, but they created enough chances to be worthy winners.
"Fulham had a couple of opportunities, but on the balance of play, Wolves deserved the three points."
Man of the Match - Joao Moutinho
The Portuguese was at his imperious best in the sunshine at Molineux on Saturday afternoon, dictating play from his position in the middle of the park.
The 31-year-old nearly created a first-half opener for Dendoncker, only for the midfielder to head his gorgeous centre against the bar from close range.
And not surprisingly, the playmaker played a key role in his team's 75th-minute winner as he once again showed just why only Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Figo have won more Portugal caps than him.
On the final day of the Premier League season, Wolves take on Liverpool at Anfield, while Fulham face Newcastle at Craven Cottage, with both matches kicking off at 3pm a week on Sunday.