Cort and flashy Camara can't stop the inevitable

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 Everton 1
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The Independent Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers' fight to escape relegation effectively came to end yesterday, despite a brave comeback against Everton. Carl Cort's late winner gave fans at Molineux false hope, but fantasies raised by the goal were replaced by realism and a forlorn look towards life in the First Division next season as the news filtered through that Manchester City had defeated Newcastle United.

Wolverhampton Wanderers' fight to escape relegation effectively came to end yesterday, despite a brave comeback against Everton. Carl Cort's late winner gave fans at Molineux false hope, but fantasies raised by the goal were replaced by realism and a forlorn look towards life in the First Division next season as the news filtered through that Manchester City had defeated Newcastle United.

Although not yet mathematically down, Wolves' terrible goal difference, which now stands at minus 37 compared to Manchester City's minus two, means that only a miracle will save them. "I've got two games to go and I've got to pick up the players and the staff for our next game against Newcastle," said Dave Jones, the Wolves manager.

"Our problem all season has been letting goals in. But recently we've improved at getting back at people. We would once let in an early goal, like we did today, and then go on to lose heavily." They certainly did recover well from a goal conceded inside the first two minutes.

Leon Osman, on his first League start for Everton, headed home James McFadden's cross at the near post. But the home side rallied superbly and, following Henri Camara's equaliser, the scenes were joyous when Cort headed home an unlikely winner from Mark Kennedy's free-kick.

The pick of the goals, however, belonged to Camara, who capped off a wonderful performance with an excellent strike to level on 55 minutes. With a flash of fluorescent orange footwear, he sent a crashing half volley over goalkeeper Nigel Martyn's head and in off the crossbar.

Camara, much criticised after joining Wolves from Sedan in a £1.5 million deal, has come of age in recent weeks and become one of Jones' prized assets - so much so that he sent out a strong "hands off" message to would-be suitors. If he can maintain this kind of form in the First Division he will be a real threat.

"He's under contract, so why shouldn't we keep him? If his agent wants to tell him things, good luck to him," Jones said. "We signed him for long-term planning, not short-term. We've spent a lot of time with him since he arrived. He didn't fire when he first came so what his agent should do is shut up and let us get on with it."

Everton had wasted chances to seal this game by half-time. It was as if they assumed the game was in the bag already after Osman's early goal, but spurning four good chances through McFadden, Tomasz Radzinski and Wayne Rooney, twice, proved costly.

Rooney's petulance showed again and he was lucky to stay on the field after a two-footed tackle left a lump on the head of Wolves' goalkeeper, Paul Jones. David Moyes, the Everton manager, said it was "a fair ball to go for", but the yellow card Rooney received could have been worse.

"You'll want him to go for it in the European Championships, won't you?" answered Moyes to critics of his forward. While Rooney will be heading for Portugal this summer, Wolves will be pondering trips to less attractive destinations.

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2
Camara 55, Cort 84

Everton 1
Osman 3

Half-time: 0-1 Attendance: 29,395

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