Daniel Podence scored the only goal as Wolves secured their first Premier League victory of the season.
The Portugal winger scuffed his finish in first-half stoppage time but it was enough to lift Bruno Lage’s side out of the bottom three. Southampton had a second-half effort through Ché Adams ruled out for handball and the striker hit the crossbar with another header. But Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side were unable to follow up their midweek home win against Chelsea and slipped to their third league defeat of the season.
Lage said: “I told the players ‘the best thing the three points can give you is tranquillity to play at our level. The points can give us the confidence and, to be honest, it also came from the fans. Since the first minute they were there. They were singing ‘Bruno Lage-ball’.
“I think they are happy with the good performance and they need to be happy with the result. What I want is for my players to have big confidence to play our game because we didn’t start well but we have a team and time to still do well in the competition.”
The Portuguese confirmed his latest signing, Sasa Kalajdzic, was withdrawn at half-time because of a minor knock having had a quiet debut. Lage said Kalajdzic and fellow striker Raúl Jiménez – rested due to fatigue – would probably be in contention for next Saturday’s game at Liverpool.
The game simmered for brief periods but never threatened to reach boiling point. Saints midfielder Mohammed Salisu diverted Podence’s early cross for a corner and Rayan Aït-Nouri’s shot was saved at the near post by Southampton goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu.
Pedro Neto should have given Wolves a 13th-minute lead when he dragged a low shot wide after being played in by Matheus Nunes on the right edge of the area. Wolves captain Rúben Neves then denied Southampton the opening goal as he blocked Joe Aribo’s shot following Adams’ ball in from the right.
Southampton threatened again but the unmarked Armel Bella-Kotchap headed James Ward-Prowse’s corner tamely wide. Wolves were in need of inspiration as an unremarkable first half was drawing to a close and club record signing Nunes provided it.
The former Sporting winger’s raking right-wing cross picked out Podence and his mis-hit low finish bobbled over the line to give Wolves fans something to cheer.
Saints thought they had equalised through Adams’ header but his effort was ruled out by the referee John Brooks as the ball appeared to have come off the striker’s arm. Adams then clipped the crossbar with another header from substitute Stuart Armstrong’s cross in the 63rd minute.
Wolves defender Jonny’s long-range curling effort briefly lifted the tension among home fans, who were incensed when Brooks remained unmoved after Gonçalo Guedes went down in the box after appearing to be struck by Bella-Kotchap’s flailing arm.
Southampton continued to press for an equaliser but rarely troubled the Wolves defence.
Hasenhüttl said: “When we speak about defeats, that hurt. This is one of the most hurting ones because the chances we had in the second half must be goals.
“Ché knows this but he did a fantastic job working for the team. It is really frustrating when you see that such a ball is going into the net [and] is not a goal.”