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Walcott Scores as Southampton Draw at Wolves

Theo Walcott said he “feels like a kid again” after scoring his first goal since rejoining Southampton in their Premier League draw at Wolves. Walcott, 31, returned to Saints on

Theo Walcott said he “feels like a kid again” after scoring his first goal since rejoining Southampton in their Premier League draw at Wolves.

Walcott, 31, returned to Saints on a season-long loan from Everton in October after leaving the club for Arsenal as a 16-year-old in 2006.

And he put Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side ahead in the 58th minute at Molineux on Monday, turning in Che Adams’ cross.

However, it was not enough to earn a victory that would have moved Saints to third in the table because Pedro Neto levelled with 15 minutes left, following up after Raul Jiminez’s shot had come back off the post.

Southampton are still fifth, though, and Walcott is keen to help them “achieve things this season”.

“I will do a job whatever. I feel like the manager has the trust in me,” he said.

“I do not (remember my last Saints league goal). The smile on my face says it all. The club are close to my heart.

“I feel like a kid again – I feel very fit. It means a lot to play at the highest level for so long. I just love playing football.”

Walcott and Southampton, who are now unbeaten in their past seven matches, may have enjoyed an even more memorable evening had the forward converted a glorious opportunity to make it 2-0.

But a draw was no more than Wolves – who move up three places to ninth – deserved for a much-improved attacking display in the closing stages.

With top scorer Danny Ings out with a knee injury, the burden of replacing his goals at Southampton has fallen upon Adams and Walcott.

There are signs that Walcott, whose first taste of senior football came as a 16-year-old against Wolves, is starting to relish being back on familiar ground.

Excellent in Southampton’s last outing – a 2-0 win over Newcastle – he took centre stage at Molineux. He had already threatened to score from Stuart Armstrong’s clever pass, before he reacted quickly to turn in Adams’ driven cross and put his side in front.

It was his first goal for the club since scoring in the FA Cup on 7 January 2006 – before he left for Arsenal – and his celebration appeared to be a mixture of elation and relief.

However, his emotions were also on display when he appeared angry with himself for failing to make the score 2-0 from Adams’ fine pass.

With only goalkeeper Rui Patricio to beat he seemed to be put off by a chasing defender and screwed his shot wide.

With captain Conor Coady’s ever-present run of 84 Premier League games coming to an end – the defender is in isolation after coming into contact with someone with Covid-19 – Wolves deployed an unfamiliar flat back four.

The centre-back partnership of Max Kilman and Willy Boly provided Nuno Espirito Santo’s side with a relatively solid base as the visitors initially controlled proceedings.

They were also well shielded by Ruben Neves and Leander Dendoncker, the former making the most clearances (four) and the latter covering the most ground of any home player (11.12km).

But for all those admirable qualities, there was a distinct lack of incisiveness to their attacking play until they fell behind.

While Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy did well to save parry Nelson Semedo’s long-range effort and Dendoncker’s follow-up attempt early on, he was largely untroubled until the hosts had to respond to falling behind.

Jimenez, who had been isolated and had the lowest number of touches of any outfield home player to start the game, slowly became more involved.

And it was his stinging drive that led to the equaliser, while goalscorer Neto and Daniel Podence all carved out good openings in the second period.

The biggest frustration for Nuno and Wolves fans is likely to be that their charge came too late.

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