WOLVERHAMPTON, England (AP) — Diogo Jota added two more goals to the midweek hat trick he scored in the Europa League as Wolverhampton beat last-place Norwich 3-0 in the Premier League on Sunday to keep in touch with the Champions League qualification positions.
The Portugal forward scored in the 19th and 30th minutes, then drove in a shot that struck the post before Raul Jimenez bundled home the loose ball for the third goal in the second half at Molineux.
Jota has had an injury-interrupted season but is in a rich vein of form, having netted three goals in Wolves’ 4-0 win over Espanyol in the first leg of the Europa League last 32 on Thursday.
He appeared to benefit from Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s decision to switch from his usual 3-4-3 formation to a 3-5-2 favored at the end of last season, which saw Jota playing as a central striker alongside Jimenez rather than a wide forward. That meant right winger Adama Traore, one of Wolves’ best players this season, was dropped to the bench.
“We know a player’s performance can go up and down,” Espirito Santo said of Jota. “It’s the right decisions, the right solutions we try to find to keep sustaining his performance. Not only him, but all the team.
“Of course, I’m delighted with his goals. It’s nothing specific – these things happen. His last touch has been clinical, Thursday and today, and hopefully it continues.”
Wolves are managing to juggle its domestic and European commitments impressively and moved up to eighth place in the league, just two points behind Manchester United in fifth place. That is currently a Champions League qualification place following Manchester City’s recent two-season ban from European competitions by UEFA.
Explaining the hunger of his squad following what was Wolves’ 44th game of the season, Espirito Santo said he and his staff are working seven days a week.
“The way they recover, the way they respect themselves, the way the staff dedicates, we don’t have days off,” he said.
“We are always preparing ourselves to compete. This is how we want to compete, and the difficulty is to sustain it, so it requires a lot of hard work, and every day is harder. But it’s our job. We embrace the challenge, so everybody has to help – everyone.”
It looks increasingly like Norwich will be returning to the second-tier League Championship after just one season in the top flight. Daniel Farke’s side, which has earned praise for its positive football, is seven points from safety with 11 games remaining.
Farke insists he is “not closing the book on this season” but needs more from his players.
“You have to give your life with each and every duel,” he said, “and I got the feeling that sometimes we were a bit soft and scared.
“We need to be greedy to win the duel, and unbelievably sharp. You need to be convinced and not scared. I think we lacked that and I’m disappointed with that fact.”
One negative for Wolves was the sight of left wing back Jonny Otto coming off injured late in the game after falling awkwardly under Ben Godfrey as the Norwich defender attempted a cross.
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