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Europa League report and pictures: Wolves 1 Slovan Bratislava 0

By Joe Edwards | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

Raul Jimenez's stoppage-time header saw Wolves beat Slovan Bratislava and put one foot into the Europa League knockout stages.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side only need one point from their last two Group K games to advance to the last 32 thanks to this 1-0 victory at Molineux.

Ruben Neves saw a penalty saved by Dominic Greif and it seemed like the hosts would have to settle for a frustrating draw.

But Jimenez, after Kenan Bajric's head injury resulted in an extended break in play, came up with the goods in the 12 minutes of added-on time.

Analysis

Wolves left it late and the knack of performing better in the second half than the first continued – but a win is a win.

Credit to Slovan, like in the reverse fixture, they were well-organised and threatened on the break on a few occasions.

But the home side piled on the pressure as the game progressed and would have broken the deadlock earlier if not for a stellar showing from Greif.

The penalty from Neves – awarded after Pedro Neto was tripped – was at the right height for him to save, but he got across his line very well.

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Greif will count himself unlucky to have conceded in the end, but Jimenez, who had inadvertently caught Bajric minutes before, typically took centre stage.

The Mexican celebrated respectfully as well, praying for Bajric, who received treatment for a while but had his eyes open as he was wheeled off.

Jimenez just cannot stop scoring, and credit must also go to young defender Max Kilman. For someone so inexperienced, he was so assured.

Match report

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Nuno stuck with the 3-4-3 formation which served Wolves so well against Arsenal while making three changes to the team which drew 1-1 at the Emirates last weekend.

The suspended Diogo Jota was replaced by Neto on the left of the front three, Kilman came in for Romain Saiss at the back, and Ruben Vinagre at left-wing-back instead of Jonny Castro Otto.

Ryan Bennett, who has been struggling with a groin problem, was on the bench, but Morgan Gibbs-White (back) left out of the squad.

Andraz Sporar – Slovan's scorer in the reverse fixture – led the line for the visitors, who had two goalkeepers on the bench.

The 1,000 fans who made the trip from Slovakia made themselves heard from the outset, and the clash got off to a lively start – both teams creating some good chances.

Wolves were the first to threaten as Adama Traore raced down the right flank and pulled the ball back to Neto, who volleyed high and wide from close range. He could not sort his feet out fast enough.

Straight up the other end, Bajric narrowly missed the target after a corner made its way to him at the far post. Slovan striker Sporar then had a low cross intercepted by Leander Dendoncker, and Joao Moutinho saw a deflected strike saved sharply by Greif. It was frantic.

But the rest of the half was rather uneventful, with Wolves a bit passive. Neves had a crack from distance – the range he likes, 25 yards from goal – after being urged to do so by the Molineux faithful. However, the attempt flew comfortably over the crossbar.

The closest Nuno's charges came to breaking the deadlock in the first period was through Jimenez, whose clever snapshot from an acute angle was put past the post by Greif's fingertips. A top-drawer stop.

Traore gave Vernon De Marco the runaround on the right flank early on, before the Spaniard started limping a little. Fortunately, he emerged from the tunnel for the second half and seemed fine.

And Wolves had a golden opportunity to take the lead shortly after the interval. Neto was taken down by Slovan skipper Vasil Bozhikov as he tried to get on the end of Matt Doherty's through-ball.

It was not a malicious challenge by the defender. In fact, at first glance, awarding a spot-kick seemed soft, but replays showed Bozhikov had stood on the back of Neto's ankle.

The Portuguese was in a considerable amount of pain and spent a few minutes receiving treatment, meaning compatriot Neves – stepping up for the penalty instead of usual taker Jimenez – had a long wait.

Neves was knocked off course by the delay too, as his effort from 12 yards was perfectly telegraphed by Greif, who confidently palmed the ball away. It was another solid piece of goalkeeping, although it was at a nice height for him.

Greif was determined to leave Molineux with a clean sheet, coming up with another quality save to keep Wolves at bay.

Moutinho played an inviting, floated pass to Doherty, and he cleverly flicked the ball towards the top corner. The Irishman was then left stunned as Greif acrobatically prevented it from going in.

Neves suffered the same fate – Greif saving – from another long-range drive while Jimenez blazed over from a similar distance.

Wolves were desperate for a winner, but everyone's immediate attention turned to Slovan midfielder Bajric after he suffered a heavy blow to the head.

Jimenez, in an attempt to meet a cross with an overhead kick, inadvertently caught Bajric – and he was tended to for 12 minutes by physios and ambulance staff.

Thankfully, although he was stretchered off, Bajric appeared conscious as he was taken off the pitch.

The injury resulted in a long period of added-on time, and Jimenez, who had been booked for catching Bajric, came up with the winner.

Traore beat his man and his cross took a deflection, falling kindly for the Mexican to head home – his 12th goal in 22 appearances this season – before a muted celebration, in respect of Bajric.

Otto and Bennett then came on before the final whistle was blown, with Wolves completing the double over Slovan.

Key Moments

48: PENALTY! The referee points to the spot after Neto is fouled by Bozhikov. Neves steps up to take the subsequent spot-kick but Greif dives to his right to thwart the Wolves midfielder.

78: Bajric collides with Jimenez in the box and has to be stretchered off.

90+2: GOOOALLL!! Wolves finally find the net in injury time as Jimenez nods home Traore's cross from the right.

Teams

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady (c), Saiss; Doherty, Moutinho, Neves, Vinagre (Otto, 90+7); Traore (Bennett, 90+10), Jimenez, Neto (Cutrone, 69)

Subs not used: Ruddy (gk), Vallejo, Saiss, Perry

Goal: Jimenez (90+2)

Slovan (4-2-3-1): Greif; Medvedev, Abena, Bozhikov, De Marco; Bajric (Ljubicic, 88), De Kamps; Ratao (Sukhotskyi, 71), Ibrahim, Drazic; Sporar

Subs not used: Sulla (gk), Trnovsky (gk), Nono, Holman, Daniel

Attendance: 29,789

Referee: Bas Nijhuis (Netherlands)

Up next

Wolves host Villa in the Premier League on Sunday (2pm).

Joe Edwards

By Joe Edwards
Multi-Media Sports Journalist - @JoeEdwards_Star

Wolves fan turned Wolves correspondent for the Express & Star.

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