It took a stunning Wolverhampton Wanderers strike to separate the sides in a close game at Molineux, as the new Frank Lampard era at Chelsea began with a narrow defeat.

Our opponents took the lead during a first-half spell when they were briefly on top, Matheus Nunes scoring with a shot that gave Kepa simply no chance.

Unlike other Blues performances of late, our players did not go down the tunnel at half-time wondering how they had not hit the opposition net. Our one first-half shot on-target, from Joao Felix, had been comfortably saved.

Lampard rung the attacking changes during the second half as a way to goal was sought, but by the end of the game Kepa had been marginally the busier goalkeeper, although Wolves had rarely looked like adding a second goal. Wesley Fofana was a standout figure in our defending. Kalidou Koulibaly was also busy at times.

We remain in 11th place in the Premier League table.

The selection

Lampard made two changes to the side that had drawn at home to Liverpool prior to his reappointment. There was no N'Golo Kante today, as his return after the surgery he had is managed carefully, so Conor Gallagher came in and Raheem Sterling was handed a start with Ben Chilwell moving to the bench.

Sterling slotted in on the right of a front three as Lampard opted for a 4-3-3 shape, as he was favouring when last in our dug-out.

A new Chelsea era began in spring sunshine but the first half lacked Blues efforts on goal while Wolves took a half-chance of their own in emphatic style.

Reece James flashed a ball in that took a deflection off Wolves defender Nelson Semedo on its way past the far post in the first couple of minutes, and Kalidou Koulibaly had to make an important block at the other end as the pacy Nelson Semedo attacked down the right, but it was a largely quiet start to the game.

James was in front of the Blues goal to head a cross behind as Wolves again threatened down their right. From the corner, Craig Dawson’s tame header was easy for Kepa and Fofana made a well-timed tackle inside the penalty area on Nunes, as the home side enjoyed a couple of minutes of pressure.

Our young French centre-back was there again to divert an on-target strike from Mario Lemina past the post with 26 minutes played.

Wolves make moment pay

Five minutes later the West Midlanders took the lead with a shot that has to be classed as unstoppable, rewarding them for their spell on top.

Koulibaly appeared to have done well enough initially in heading the ball out wide to the right of the Chelsea penalty area, but Nunes caught the bouncing ball perfectly to send it flying into our net.

Kepa then saved from Diego Costa to prevent the damage being worse.

Up to that point Kai Havertz had been prominent in heading away Wolves set-pieces, but we were yet to see him and his fellow attackers, Joao Felix and Raheem Sterling, on the ball enough in the opposition half.

That did improve towards the interval. A foul on Joao Felix earned Lemina a booking and the Portuguese soon had the first Chelsea shot on target, but it was straight at his compatriot Jose Sa.

A spark would be need for the second half.

Blues kept at bay

Near the start of the second period, James and Gallagher combined nicely for a cross from the Chelsea right seeking out Havertz, but Wolves were first to the ball and cleared.

It was a brighter Blues and James kept the balls coming in but without joy, and fired off target from a free-kick, while Chelsea were grateful when the home side made a mess of two very good counter-attacking situations when our defence was outnumbered.

With an hour played, Christian Pulisic replaced Havertz with Joao Felix moving more centrally. It was Wolves with the next shot however, Cunha clearing our crossbar when well placed.

Chelsea mounted a swift counter-attack of our own, opening up Wolves for a Gallagher shot, but that was blocked.

With an equaliser continuing to prove elusive, Lampard brought on three more subs – with Mykhailo Mudryk, Ben Chilwell and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang introduced.

Playing his first football since the defeat at Tottenham, Aubameyang was in the right place to turn a James cross towards goal but unfortunately the Wolves defenders were positioned to block too. Chilwell blazed a shot off target in stoppage time as a move found rare space.

Those two moments summed up a frustrating afternoon for the visitors, as did five second-half yellow cards.

What's next?

The Blues are in the Bernabeu midweek, for the start of our Champions League quarter-final tie against the holders, Real Madrid. Kick-off on Wednesday is 8pm UK time. Our next Premier League outing is on Saturday at home to Brighton.

Chelsea (4-3-3):Kepa; James, W Fofana (Chalobah 80), Koulibaly, Cucurella (Chilwell 68); Gallagher, Enzo, Kovacic (c); Sterling (Mudryk 68), Havertz ( Pulisic 60), Joao Felix (Aubameyang 68).

Unused subs Mendy, Badiashile, Loftus-Cheek, Zakaria.

Booked Cucurella 48, Sterling 63, Gallagher 67, Kovacic 87, Koulibaly 89.

Wolves (4-4-2):Sa; Semedo, Dawson, Kilman (c), Toti; Podence (Moutinho 64), Lemina (A Traore 75), Gomes, Nunes (Collins 90+5); Diego Costa (Hwang 64), Cunha (Sarabia 75).

Unused subs Bentley, Bueno, Hodge, Neto.

Scorer Nuno 31

Booked Lemina 39, Gomes 59

Referee Peter Bankes