Soccer-Wolves back up to sixth as Palace slump continues


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WOLVERHAMPTON, July 20 (Reuters) - Wolverhampton Wanderers reclaimed sixth place in the Premier League as they beat a woefully out-of-form Crystal Palace 2-0 at Molineux on Monday thanks to goals by Daniel Podence and Jonny.

Podence headed home for his first Premier League goal for Wolves shortly before halftime and Jonny's fine finish wrapped up the points with around 20 minutes remaining.

A injury-weakened Palace missing five regulars had actually started the game well but suffered another blow when Mamadou Sakho went off in the first half with a hamstring injury.

Palace offered precious little in the second half as they slumped to a seventh successive defeat.

Wolves moved above Tottenham Hotspur into sixth spot -- a guaranteed Europa League qualification place -- with 59 points ahead of their final league game away to Chelsea on Sunday.

Palace are 14th.

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said he was not entirely happy with the performance but delighted with the win which keeps his side on course to better last season's seventh place.

"Today, we made two more points than last season so we are improving, and I'm happy with that," he said.

"The only good moment in the first half was the goal. We were faster in the second half and it was more of what we are."

Palace should have taken the lead following a slip by Wolves defender Willy Boly but Jeffrey Schlupp dragged his shot wide.

Wolves then took the lead with the kind of goal that has become their trademark. Midfield magician Joao Moutinho's dinked pass picked out Matt Doherty's run and he knocked the ball across the area for Podence who could not miss.

Dangerman Adama Traore had been reasonably well-contained by a Palace defence featuring youngster Tyrick Mitchell who was handed his first league start.

But Traore produced a lightning burst of pace to set up Wolves's second, muscling past two defenders before pulling the ball back for Jonny who took a touch before spinning and angling a shot past Palace keeper Vicente Guaita.

It proved another tough night for Palace manager Roy Hodgson who will be desperate to end the losing sequence when his side host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

"I thought it was a sterling effort from the players to keep going but it is a bit of a Groundhog Day situation for us," he said. "I think we are doing the best with the players we have.

"An awful lot of things have not gone our way during this period of bad results but we have to face up to it and then in the summer find the players to reinforce us."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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