How Wolves' stars fared on international duty

The final international break of 2020 has come and gone – and Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo will be pleased.

Croatia's Mateo Kovacic vies for the ball with Portugal's Nelson Semedo (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Croatia's Mateo Kovacic vies for the ball with Portugal's Nelson Semedo (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Having most of his squad away amid all the added health concerns brought on by the pandemic, the last few breaks have not exactly been ideal to him.

Still, quite a few players have enjoyed the last week or so.

There has been some issues along the way too, but it seems to have been fairly positive on the whole.

And here, we look at how Wolves’ globe-trotters have got on.

Debuts

Perhaps the biggest thing to come out of the break has been the successful international debuts for Pedro Neto, Willy Boly and youngster Owen Otasowie.

Neto – on the crest of a wave, having also performed superbly for Wolves and earned a new long-term contract – made his senior Portugal bow against Andorra, and it took him just eight minutes to get on the scoresheet.

A free-flowing attacking move ended with the 20-year-old thumping the ball into the net from close range, opening the floodgates in a 7-0 win.

He was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo at the start of the second period and was then an unused substitute against both France and Croatia, but he should be returning to Compton with even more of a spring to his step.

Boly, having previously been called up multiple times by the Ivory Coast, finally switched his allegiance from France – who he represented at youth level – and went straight into the starting line-up for their African Cup of Nations qualifier against Madagascar.

They won 2-1 before facing them again, this time in Madagascar, where they drew 1-1. Boly played the full 90 in both.

Otasowie, meanwhile, having made just one senior Wolves appearance, was handed his United States debut.

The 19-year-old, who has been included in first-team squads by Nuno recently, came off the bench in a 0-0 draw with Wales at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium.

He then watched from the bench as they enjoyed a 6-2 victory against Panama, in Austria.

Milestone

It was a momentous break for Joao Moutinho as he became the second most capped player in Portugal’s history.

Portugal's Joao Moutinho controls the ball next to Croatia's Luka Modric (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

Coming off the bench against France last weekend, it was his 128th cap, taking him past Luis Figo.

He almost celebrated the occasion with a goal, too, but was denied by a fine Hugo Lloris save as France won 1-0.

Moutinho – yet to show his best for Wolves this term – then played the full 90 minutes in a 3-2 triumph against Croatia.

Nelson Semedo, who starred against Andorra too, upped his confidence as well as he got the man of the match in Portugal’s win on Tuesday night.

Rui Patricio was, predictably, between the sticks but Ruben Neves, surprisingly, did not feature in any of Portugal’s three games.

Issues

It was a frustrating time for Conor Coady as he was forced to pull out of the England squad after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Despite giving two negative tests, the Wolves skipper had to enter a period of self-isolation so did not play in any of the Three Lions’ three games.

Rayan Ait-Nouri also returned early from France Under-21 duty with a knock, which is not thought to be too serious.

Nuno should provide an update on both of those players in this afternoon’s press conference.

Goals

Back on the positives, Raul Jimenez scored in each of Mexico’s games – a 3-2 win over South Korea and a 2-0 victory against Japan.

Adama Traore got two more Spain caps, both as a sub, against the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Leander Dendoncker – after missing the England game because of a niggle – played all of Belgium’s 4-2 win against Denmark.

Romain Saiss captained Morocco to two wins against the Central African Republic, and Vitinha got an assist in Portugal Under-21s’ 2-1 win over the Netherlands.

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