Romain Saiss’ first-half strike was enough to earn Wolves a deserved victory over Brighton – who are without a win in 11 Premier League matches.
Defender Saiss volleyed home a delightful pass from Ruben Neves in added time at the end of the opening period to give Bruno Lage’s visitors a first victory in five outings.
Albion, who have not tasted glory since September 19, were without a host of key men having battled an injury and Covid-19 crisis during a disrupted build-up.
Seagulls midfielder Enock Mwepu spurned a golden chance to equalise immediately after the opener but the toothless hosts faded and could have lost by a far greater margin.
Marcal and Saiss each struck the woodwork for Wanderers after the restart, while Daniel Podence wasted two excellent openings to give the away side daylight.
The narrow win lifts Wolves to eighth, with the depleted Seagulls slipping to 13th ahead of Saturday’s trip to Manchester United.
Brighton were back in action after Sunday’s scheduled meeting with Tottenham was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak at the north London club.
The Seagulls have suffered their own selection issues and top scorer Neal Maupay, creative midfielder Pascal Gross and suspended defender Shane Duffy were added to the lengthy list of absentees.
Albion’s makeshift line-up contained just two players who had scored in the league this term, while Wolves – without banned talisman Raul Jimenez – arrived in Sussex having failed to find the net in their past four games.
Three points #BHAWOL
— Wolves (@Wolves) December 15, 2021
A breakthrough rarely looked likely at either end during a first half short on chances and lacking entertainment.
Seagulls midfielder Mwepu shot straight at Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa early on before later slipping in Solly March, who fired into the side netting.
The visitors – who lost Hwang Hee-chan to an early injury – finally sparked life into the contest by snatching the lead just before the break.
Albion only partially cleared a corner from the right and Neves coolly lifted the ball over their backline for Morocco international Saiss to calmly side-foot into the bottom left corner.
Graham Potter’s men should have instantly restored parity.
Following a free-kick into the box, Leandro Trossard’s powerful effort was spilled by Sa, before Mwepu somehow diverted the rebound over the crossbar from inside the six-yard box to the disbelief of many on the terraces.
Seagulls head coach Potter had highlighted the importance of the home support going into the game and the mood could quickly have turned sour straight after the interval.
Marcal almost inadvertently doubled Wolves’ advantage with an attempted cross which landed on top of the bar, while Sanchez was alert to deny Francisco Trincao.
There was then a substantial break in play as referee Tony Harrington required assistance with defective technical equipment.
Wolves remained in the ascendancy following the unexpected delay and Saiss was unfortunate not to grab his second of the evening when his thunderous volley came back off the left post, before the wasteful Podence was twice kept out by the increasingly-busy Sanchez.
Further issues for match official Harrington contributed to giving Brighton 11 minutes of added time to chase a leveller.
But, with limited options on an inexperienced bench containing a handful of untested teenagers, they mustered little as their three-month wait for a win goes on.
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