Pedro Neto

Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images

Europa League: Wolves draw 1st leg; USMNT’s Brooks scores (video)

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Arteta tests positive for coronavirus | PL to hold emergency meeting ]

Two games involving Italian clubs β€” Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma β€” were postponed after Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was placed under national quarantine. Makeup dates for those games are unknown at this time.

[ MORE: Man United cruise to 5-0 lead in Europa League last-16 (video) ]

Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves still have every hope of reaching the quarterfinals after securing a 1-1 away draw with Olympiacos, though they won’t necessarily be thrilled by the order in which the game unfolded.

Olympiacos went down to 10 men after Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute, but the Greek powerhouse was first on the scoreboard anyway. Youssef El-Arabi, who scored the dramatic winner two weeks ago at Arsenal, put his side ahead in the 54th minute.

Pedro Neto‘s equalizer wasn’t the prettiest goal ever scored, but manager Nuno Espirito Santo will take the deflected free kick 100 times out of 100 and head back to Molineux Stadium expecting to reach the next round, should the competition continue to be played in a week’s time.

 

Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Wolfsburg suffered a 2-1 home defeat which puts them in a precarious position to reach the quarterfinals, but it was better news for U.S. men’s national team fans.

USMNT defender John Brooks is back from being benched and making an impact once again. The 27-year-old headed home a corner kick in the 48th minute to bring Wolfsburg level (until Shakhtar bagged the winner in the 73rd).

Full Europa League scoreboard

LASK 0-5 Manchester United β€” FULL RECAP
Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Rangers 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Basel
Istanbul Basaksehir 1-0 Copenhagen
Inter Milan v. Getafe β€” postponed
Sevilla v. Roma β€” postponed

Nuno: ‘There is not a clear advantage, but the law is the law’

Photo by Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images
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When criticizing the use of the video assistant referee (VAR) in soccer, it’s important β€” appreciated, at minimum β€” to be constructive in doing so.

[ MORE: Man City banned from European action ]

In other words, “VAR is stupid, get rid of it” doesn’t accomplish a whole lot in terms of making your audience receptive to anything else you might say. Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Nuno Espirito Santo saw his side become the latest to come down on the wrong side of an incredibly narrow, potentially controversial reversal via video review on Friday, yet he delivered his post-game comments on the incident in a calm and collected manner.

[ MORE: Report: Man City facing possible PL points deduction ]

The gist of his case for Wolves’ disallowed goal to have counted: Sure, Pedro Neto had a toe in an offside position, but what advantage was gained by doing so considering he was hurriedly shuffling toward and onside position as part of a short corner kick routine? The larger question that Nuno gets to is this: Does the offside rule exist for players simply existing in an offside position, or to prevent players from gaining an advantage by being in an offside position? (quotes from the BBC)

“It is reality now but each time it happens it upsets you. When you see the images, there is not a clear advantage but the law is the law. I am positive about the reaction of the professionals and the fans, but something has to be done. Let those who understand do something to have the joy of celebrating. We in danger of becoming robots.”

…

“It is not about frustration but realising what we did in the game and now analyze to say, ‘We could (have won).’ Leicester had possession in the first half but did not create, we scored in the first half and dominated a very good team. The boys created many chances but it requires more work from us to complete the actions.”

Of course, adding language to the rule stating that offside should only be called if a player gains an advantage from his position on the field would only add another layer of interpretation and discretion for the crew of referees to consider and attempt to decipher.

Wolves settle for draw with Leicester after VAR misfortune

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For the second time this season, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City played one another to a scoreless stalemate on Friday, this time at Molineux Stadium with Wolves failing to climb all the way up to sixth in the Premier League table and the Foxes unable to claw past Manchester City for second place once again.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Two sides that have played some of the most entertaining, fluid attacking soccer β€” while remaining plenty responsible at the back β€” effectively canceled one another out as they combined for just six shots on target (three apiece) over the course of 90 minutes.

Wolves were the only side to put the ball in the back of the net at any point, when Willy Boly headed home past Kasper Schmeichel in the 44th minute. However, upon video review, Pedro Neto was adjudged to have been in an offside position after restarting play from a short corner kick. The situation is described most succinctly, here, by Wolves, and below in picture form.

The game swung drastically in Wolves’ favor in the 76th minute, when Hamza Choudhury was shown a second yellow card for bringing down Leander Dendoncker, though Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side was unable to make the most of their man advantage.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]Β 

Adama Traore looked the likeliest source of a Wolves breakthrough upon coming off the bench in the 64th minute, but the Spanish winger couldn’t connect the final ball into the penalty area on a number of occasions he got free down the right wing.

As things stand, Leicester remain third in the PL table, just one point back of Man City. Meanwhile, Wolves climb two places, from ninth to seventh, now ahead of Manchester United and Everton.

Liverpool overcomes Wolves challenge to win 14th-straight

Wolves v. Liverpool match recap and video highlights
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
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If this ends up being an unbeaten Premier League season for Liverpool, this one may be called “The Alisson Game.”

Liverpool’s star goalkeeper kept the Reds quest for legendary status alive long enoiugh for Roberto Firmino to supply the winner in a 2-1 defeat of Wolves at the Molineux on Thursday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Jordan Henderson might like the game’s title role, too, scoring a goal and assisting the 84th minute winner.

Raul Jimenez leveled the score after halftime for Wolves, who stay seventh with 34 points.

Liverpool increases its table lead to 16 points with a match-in-hand on the field.


Three things we learned

1. Alisson’s smart goalkeeping keeps dream alive: Nuno Espirito Santo‘s men have gone behind in eight matches this season, claiming a win in three of them. That would’ve been four if Alisson Becker wasn’t between the sticks for Liverpool. The Brazilian was calm at the back despite being put in several predicaments, his positioning exquisite with plenty of high claims and parries.

2. Henderson has himself a day: Liverpool’s favorite Mackem brings plenty of grit to the side, and his crunching Traore at least thrice in the first 21 minutes shows his tactical duty. But don’t let that take away from his nose for goal. Henderson made sure to back up his motivational “business as usual” post-match interview after beating Manchester United by thundering into the mix to head a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner home after just eight minutes at the Molineux. His alert assist after Salah was dispossessed was plenty pretty, too.

3. Traore puts Reds off balance:Β As stated above, Jurgen Klopp clearly had a plan for handling Traore when he was in the center of the park. The winger, however, was a much bigger ask for Andy Robertson out wide. Traore blazed down the left to deliver an assist after Robertson’s failed challenge on Jimenez, then won a free kick off Robertson minutes later (Alisson saved the danger).

Man of the Match:Β Traore. Perfect on contested dribbles and nearly so on 50-50 challenges. A proper menace.


Henderson opened the score when he rose at the near post to head Alexander-Arnold’s cross off Rui Patricio’s hand and into the side netting.

Two of the game’s more lethal finishers were stymied in tight in the 17th and 18th minutes, with Virgil Van Dijk defying Raul Jimenez and Wolves smothered a Mohamed Salah drive.

Sadio Mane limped off with an injury, allowing Takumi Minamino to make a Premier League debut, and Van Dijk was slowed by a 50-50 challenge with Adama Traore before halftime.

Salah drove by two Wolves in stioppage time, but is shot deflected into the air and was corraled by Patricio.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]Β 

The Egyptian picked up where he left off in the 47th, stripping Traore and forcing a save out of Patricio.

Salah raced back upfield moments later to block a Pedro Neto shot after Wolves led a promising charge.

Wolves made it 1-1 with a bit of lightning down the right, as Traore raced onto a through ball and crossed for Jimenez to head past Alisson Becker.

Traore then won a free kick and a yellow card for a poor sliding challenge on Traore, but Wolves couldn’t deliver a second goal in five minutes.

Liverpool answered, Firmino pumping a shot into the keeper despite a half-emptty net at the hour mark.

Alisson then made a fine save on a Traore drive in the 65th, blocking a Jimenez shot two minutes later.

That’s not to say the Reds weren’t busy, and Rui Patricio made a fine low save on Firmino in the 82nd minute.

Firmino got his goal in a flash, taking a pass frorm an alert Henderson and burying a shot past Patricio.

Diogo Jota blew a point blank chance to make it 2-2 in the second minute of stoppage after Traore and Jimenez set him atop the six.

Jimenez leads stunning Wolves comeback

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Wolves were 2-0 down at half time at Southampton on Saturday and won 3-2.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]Β Β 

Jan Bednarek and Shane Long had put Saints in a comfortable position but then Pedro Neto made it 2-1 and Mexico’s Raul Jimenez scored a penalty kick and a winner to send the Wolves fans wild.

The win was Wolves’ first in six games in all competitions and moves them into sixth place, while Southampton saw their six game unbeaten run in all competitions come to an end in dramatic fashion.


3 things we learned

1. Saints implode at key moment: In truth, Saints were a little fortunate to be 2-0 up at half time in an even game. But after the way they’ve surged up the table with six wins in their last nine, you could see they were brimming with confidence. That is now gone. After beating Tottenham, Leicester and Chelsea spirits were high but Ralph Hasenhuttl will have to pick his team up from a shocking defeat. This feels like another key moment in their season as they now sit six points off the bottom three but a win or draw would see them much closer to the top six battle. Fine margins decide games and Long’s header hit the post moments before Wolves made it 2-1. Saints’ season can now go either way.

2. Wolves continue to rally from slow starts: They have conceded the first goal in a league-high 16 PL games this season and it is now seven in a row. But they keep fighting and they showed incredible spirit with Jimenez and Traore leading the charge, once again. Imagine where Wolves would be in the table if they actually started games well?

3. Top four now on for Santo’s battered side: They are five points behind Chelsea and in the top four hunt now. Wolves have such a small squad and Santo wants to add to it, so expect them to do business with the Europa League knockout rounds and a possible top four push coming up. They are down to the bare bones with injuries to Vinagre, Boly and Jota hitting them hard but they are getting the job done in remarkable fashion.

Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez – He missed a few chances in the first half but was always a threat and finished his chances in the second half. Clever hold up play and pulled Southampton’s defense all over the place.


Wolves looked dangerous early on as Adama Traore’s deflected shot flew just wide but then Saints struck with their first attempt of the game.

James Ward-Prowse‘s free kick caused havoc and Bednarek cleaned up at the back post to slot home calmly and make it 1-0.

Saints should have doubled their lead as Cedric‘s header at the back post was a poor one, while Raul Jimenez went close on a couple of occasions.

After Jimenez flashed another shot wide Saints did double their lead, as Cedric’s cross was finished clinically by Long for his first goal in 19 games.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Long hit the post with a header as Saints threatened to run away with things at the start of the second but moments later Wolves started their comeback.

Adama Traore surged down the right and crossed for Neto who controlled well then finished to half the deficit.

Wolves were level soon after as Jonny ran into the box and was brought down by a combination of Cedric and Jack Stephens in the box, as a penalty kick was awarded via VAR and Jimenez slotted home from the spot.

Nathan Redmond then went on an incredible run and smashed a shot from distance which clipped the crossbar and then Neto drilled over from a great position as it was end-to-end stuff in the closing stages.

Saints went close to scoring a winner as Jack Stephens couldn’t hook home from close range as Wolves somehow cleared, and then Jimenez finished after great work from Traore to make it 3-2 and seal the stunning comeback.

Stephens and Sofiane Boufal missed chances for Southampton to nick a point as Wolves, who are short on players as injuries pile up, pulled off an amazing comeback win.