Wolverhampton Wanderers returned to the Premier League in typically bombastic fashion as they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Everton in an entertaining clash at a sold-out Molineux on Saturday evening.
Everton took the lead inside the opening 20 minutes, with new signing Richarlison prodding home after some sloppy Wolves defending from Leighton Baines' free kick.
The Toffees looked to be in complete control - that is, until Phil Jagielka received his marching orders for a late and dangerous challenge on Diogo Jota. Ruben Neves scored from the ensuing free kick, putting the two sides back on level terms.
Despite being a man down, Everton were the more dangerous of the two sides in the second half and were rewarded for their dominance when Richarlison scored once again with a cool finish from just inside the area. However, Wolves pushed for an equaliser and secured a point with a late equaliser from Raul Jimenez.
Here is all you need to know about the late kick-off.
Key Talking Point
All eyes were on Wolverhampton ahead of this match as the big-spending Championship winners prepared for their return to the top flight. Big names such as Joao Moutinho and Rui Patricio being added to an already strong side which dominated the second tier last season meant there was a certain sense of expectation.
Somewhat surprisingly, Wolves delivered a rather flat and unadventurous performance that did little to replicate some of their swashbuckling displays of last season. Even after Everton were reduced to 10 men, Wolves remained unusually conservative in attack, with their wing-backs dropping deep to form what was essentially a back 5 alongside the centre-backs.
Wolves have more than enough quality to survive in the Premier League and could even mount a mid-table push. However, Santo will need to be brave and get his boys attacking more in games if they are to do more than fight the drop this year. There are still 37 games to go, but this was a real missed opportunity to get off to a winning start.
Starting XI: Patricio (6); Boly (5), Coady (6), Bennett (6); Jonny (6), Neves (8), Moutinho (7), Doherty (6); Costa (6), Jota (7), Jimenez (7)
Substitutes: Bonatini (5) Vinagre (6) Gibbs-White (N/A)
STAR MAN - Ruben Neves won acclaim for his performances in the Championship last season and the Portuguese midfielder proved today he has what it takes to repeat his impressive form in the top flight. After scoring with a delightful free-kick, Neves then turned provider for Wolves' second equaliser when he floated in an inch-perfect cross for Raul Jimenez to finish. Not a bad Premier League debut for the 21-year-old.
Unsurprisingly, the online community had a lot to say about Neves' performance, as seen below:
Ruben Neves is bloody brilliant. Don’t think he’ll be at Wolves for that long. All the big clubs should be on this guy. Fantastic player.— Ryan. 🔴 (@Vintage_Utd) August 11, 2018
Reminder that FC Porto only sold Ruben Neves for £16,000,000— Ellis - AwayDays (@ellis_platten) August 11, 2018
Things Ruben Neves doesn't need...— Tim Spiers (@tim_spiers_Star) August 11, 2018
1) The penalty area
That is all.
WORST PLAYER - Nobody stood out as being particularly bad in this Wolves side - the problem was more that few players seemed willing to step forward and grab the initiative. However, Willy Boly did gift Everton a golden opportunity in the second half and Wolves' defending as a whole was rather sloppy at times, giving Santo food for thought going forward
Key Talking Point
Everton would have wanted the focus of today's match to be on new manager Marco Silva, but the Portuguese manager's gameplan had to be ripped up before half time following Jagielka's sending off.
Nevertheless, the Toffees should be commended for not cracking under the pressure and keeping their cool despite going a man down, actually looking the more composed and dominant of the two sides for much of the second half.
Time will tell if Marco Silva is the man to take Everton forward but his side played with a maturity at times today that certainly bodes well for the season ahead.
Starting XI: Pickford (5); Baines (6), Keane (6), Jagielka (4), Coleman (6); Gueye (7), Schneiderlin (6); Richarlison (9*), Sigurdsson (6), Walcott (5); Tosun (5)
Substitutes: Holgate (6) Digne (N/A) Niasse (N/A)
STAR MAN - Eyebrows were raised across the football world when Everton forked out £35m to sign Richarlison from Watford, but the 21-year-old sent a message to the critics with an electric performance at Molineux.
After being on hand to poke home from some poor Wolves defending, the Brazilian winger put the Toffees in front once more in the second half with a sumptuous right-footed finish.
Here are some of the best Twitter reactions to Richarlison's excellent Everton debut:
Richarlison under Marco Silva is an animal. What a debut.— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) August 11, 2018
As much as it pains me to say this, Richarlison is class, his dribbling, his shooting, he's got it all!— Daníel Nielson (@fjonberg) August 11, 2018
Get in Richarlison!!! What a waste o’ Money ⚽️👏🏿👏🏿👏🏿— Kevin Campbell (@1kevincampbell) August 11, 2018
WORST PLAYER - Dear oh dear, Phil Jagielka. Few would have expected such a moment of madness from Everton's most experienced player but that is the only way to describe the defender's desperate lunge on Diogo Jota. Jagielka took a big risk in his attempt to stop Jota bursting through on goal and ultimately it cost his team dearly.
Though both sides will feel somewhat disappointed not to have taken three points from this match, there is nothing to be done now besides look ahead and focus on the next game at hand.
Everton have a great chance to record their first win of the campaign next Saturday when they take on Southampton at Goodison Park and will be hoping the Saints replicate the form that made them relegation fodder last season.
Wolves, meanwhile, face a fairly short away journey as they take on Leicester at the King Power Stadium. Though this will not be an easy match by any means, Santo's side will feel confident they can get the right result this time if they work hard enough after stretching Everton at times today.