Ruben Vinagre

Nuno proud of Wolves comeback; Hasenhuttl fumes at VAR

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It is safe to say that the managers of Southampton and Wolverhampton Wanderers had contrasting emotions after the dramatic 3-2 victory for the visitors at St Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints led 2-0 at half time but a stunning second half comeback, led by Mexico’s Raul Jimenez who scored twice, grabbed Wolves all three points.

With his squad banged up and missing Ruben Vinagre, Willy Boly and Diogo Jota among others, Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo was beaming at the final whistle after a lengthy celebration with the Wolves fans in the away end.

“It was amazing, the second half,” Santo smiled. “They [the players] realized the first half was not good. They reacted very well. I am very proud of the players and I was proud even in the first half because I am very aware of how we were doing things. Let’s keep on going.”

As for Southampton’s perspective, Ralph Hasenhuttl was not a happy man.

But not because of how his team played. He was fuming at the officials and VAR due to the decision to award a penalty kick to Wolves for their second goal. Referee Darren England didn’t award a penalty kick as Jonny went down in the box under contact from Cedric and then Jack Stephens but VAR intervened and awarded the spot kick.

“For me it is absolutely not a clear wrong decision. I think the referee was right in that moment,” Hasenhuttl fumed. “Cedric was in front of him and it wasn’t a clear wrong decision, in my opinion. The referee was right. I don’t know why they overruled in that moment. I cannot understand it. I really can’t. Cedric was in front of the ball so he [Jonny] had no chance to get to the ball. You can give it, yes, but it is not a clear wrong. I heard that VAR was overruling when it is clearly wrong. For me, it was not clearly wrong. This is what I cannot understand.”

Cedric’s nudge on Jonny probably wasn’t a foul and although Stephens didn’t make contact, his challenge was reckless. Hasenhuttl is perhaps looking to detract a little of the attention away from his players who crumbled after leading 2-0.

In truth, that lead was flattering in a pretty even game that Wolves had dominated early, and although Southampton’s incredible run of form (six wins in nine PL games before this) is over, they are still six points above the relegation zone.

This was a big moment in the season for both teams. Had Saints won they’d have been level with Wolves but a massive comeback victory now propels Nuno’s boys up to sixth and in with a chance of a top four finish.

That will surely persuade their owners to spend money in the final days of the January transfer window as their tired and stretched squad will also have to cope with the latter stages of the Europa League in the coming months.

Edgy Liverpool beat Wolves

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Liverpool beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 on Sunday at Anfield but it was far from routine for the Premier League leaders.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Amid VAR drama in the first half which saw Sadio Mane’s goal ruled legit by video technology then chalking off what looked like an equalizer from Wolves’ Neto, the game was tight and tense as Wolves spurned several decent chances in the second half.

With the win Liverpool are now 50 games unbeaten at home in the Premier League and they lead second-place Leicester City by 13 points and also have a game in hand. Wolves sit in seventh place on 30 points.


3 things we learned

1. Reds grind it out as PL title procession begins: Liverpool are just a winning machine. They have won 17-straight games at home, they are 50 unbeaten in the PL at Anfield and they have lost just one of their last 36 PL games and none this season. Klopp’s side have been workmanlike during many games this season and they’ve shaken off the tag as the great entertainers. They can still do that but they can also grind out wins with ease. That is why they are 13 points clear at the halfway point and why their title procession has already begun.

2. Wolves livid but VAR followed the rules: Nuno Espirito Santo was booked, Wolves’ players fell to their knees and fans watching across the globe vented their anger at VAR. But, under the current laws of the game, the video technology worked well. That will not be a popular opinion but after 24 hours which has seen so many tight offside calls chalking off goals, it happened agains as Neto looked to have equalized right on half time. A tweak to the offside law is needed by IFAB otherwise we will have these tight offside calls for the rest of the time we have VAR.

3. Memorable 2019 for Liverpool: They won their sixth European title and are runaway leaders in the Premier League. 2019 has been kind to Liverpool even if they were pipped to the 2018-19 title. Many thought Klopp’s side would be demoralized by losing out on the title by one point last season but they’ve been utterly dominant in the last 12 months, losing just once in the PL, winning the UCL and they look set to smash several records on their way to winning the PL this season.

Man of the Match: Neto – He was absolutely everywhere, scored a superb goal which was ruled out and gave Alexander-Arnold a torrid outing. Superb display from the Portuguese teenager.


Liverpool started brightly as Trent Alexander-Arnold had a shot from the edge of the box which was blocked, then his cross found Salah who slotted just over the bar.

Salah then had a shot bravely blocked as Liverpool had plenty of the ball but Wolves were a threat on the break.

The hosts continued to huff and puff as Mane caused problems and Roberto Firmino nodded wide, as Wolves’ defense was just about holding firm.

Right on half time Liverpool took the lead as Mane finished off a flick from Adam Lallana. However, the goal was initially ruled off for handball on the pitch but VAR was used to overturn the decision as Lallana flicked it on with his shoulder instead of his arm.

Wolves thought they had equalized right on half time but Neto’s goal was ruled out by VAR for a marginal offside in the build up by Jonny Otto, as the visitors were livid and the hosts delighted, as Liverpool led 1-0 at the break.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Georginio Wijnaldum then had a header from a promising position deflected over as Liverpool started the second half well.

Wolves grew into the second half as Adama Traore came off the bench and Diogo Jota caught Virgil Van Dijk in possession but his shot was deflected wide as the hosts built up a head of steam.

As the game opened up Liverpool had plenty of chances to wrap it up on the break but Wolves dug deep to stay in the game as long as they could.

Substitute Raul Jimenez saw his effort deflected over by Joe Gomez as Liverpool were pinned back late on but Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss and Ruben Vinagre all smashed over from good positions and Traore was denied by a superb block.

Late second-half surge powers Wolves past Man City

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Adama Traore, Raul Jimenez, and Matt Doherty scored second-half goals as Wolverhampton Wanderers edged Manchester City 3-2 at Molineux Stadium, sending Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolves to fifth on the table.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Despite going down 2-0 in the 50th minute, an inspired Wolves side managed to rally a comeback against a 10-man City with Traore and Jimenez each contributing a goal and assist.

With the win Wolves move on to 30 points, while City stay on 38 points – 14 points behind league leaders Liverpool.

Espirito Santo’s Wolves are only the second team to win both league bouts against Pep Guardiola‘s City – the first dates back to their 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Oct. 6.

3 things we learned

1. Nuno Espirito Santo’s second-half substitutions were spot on: Both of Wolves’ last two goals came after the Portuguese manager restructured the left side of the field. Between the the 73rd and 79th minute, Diogo Jota and Jonny Castro left the field for Ruben Vinagre and Pedro Neto. Shortly after the changes were made, the home side’s attack was oozing with confidence, dominating possession and arriving at City’s goal from all angles. Eventually, Jimenez, Traore, and Doherty were able to find space within the new-look attack and contribute to game’s final score.

2. Manchester City’s December has been substandard: December has been an unusually poor month for Manchester City. Following the defeat, Guardiola’s side has now dropped six points – the other three against Manchester United. With Liverpool up 14 points, this is a stab on City’s chances of a three peat. 

3. Jimenez-Traore duo is paying dividends and more: Each attacker scored and assisted once on Friday against City. In there 2-0 victory over the defending champions in October, both were just as influential. With the January transfer window around the corner, the objective will probably be maintaining both players and building around them.

Man of the Match: Adama Traore –  With a goal and an assist, Traore was the heartbeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers on Friday night.


The first half was filled with plenty of drama, with Ederson being issued a red card and Raheem Sterling converting from the spot on his second attempt after an encroachment call from VAR.

Even though City were playing with 10 men, the visitor’s started the second half with poise and confidence, controlling the match’s possession and tempo.

In the 50th minute, Sterling’s delicate chip over Rui Patricio – his second goal of the match – all but sealed three points for the defending champions.

What should havre been a low-blow for Wolves turned out to be additional motivation to go for the unlikely win.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In the 54th minute, Traore’s low-driven, sizzling shot unearthed the “there is a chance” attitude that one could sense in every Wolves player and supporter inside the stadium.

With the clock counting down the final 10 minutes of regular time and the hosts knocking on City’s doors, Jimenez converted his 21st goal of the season, finishing Traore’s recovery and hustle inside the opponent’s box.

Matt Doherty sealed the comeback for Wolves, finishing his solo run with a close-range strike inside the box.

UEL Roundup: Wolves thrash Pyunik, and more

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For the second time in as many games, Pyunik was no match for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves dominated throughout and a quick-fire three-goal barrage in the second half gave the Premier League club a 4-0 victory (8-0 on aggregate) over its Armenian opponents, Pyunik, on Thursday at Molineux Stadium. New Wolves signing Pedro Neto scored the opening goal on his Wolves debut, with homegrown star Morgan Gibbs-White scoring his first of the season as well.

After creating numerous chances in the first half, Wolves finally found the breakthrough in the 54th minute. Adama Traore found space down the right side of the box, and he cut back towards the center where Neto slid and re-directed a shot home. Gibbs-White then followed in the 58th minute with a similar finish from four yards out, before Ruben Vinagre fired home from the top of the box in the 64th minute. Diogo Jota put the icing on the cake in the 87th minute to give Wolves a massive European win at home.

With the win, Wolverhampton Wanderers advance to the Europa League Play-Off Round where it will face Torino, one round before the group stage. Matches will be played on the next two Thursdays, August 22 and August 29.


Rangers advance past Midtjylland

While Celtic endured a disappointing defeat on Tuesday night, its rivals Rangers took care of business at home to advance to the final round of qualifying in the Europa League.

Rangers defeated Danish side FC Midtjylland, 3-1, at Ibrox, to win handily, 7-3 on aggregate. Rangers’ Colombian striker Alfredo Morelos scored a pair, as did new signing Sheyi Ojo. Midtjylland grabbed a second-half goal from Evander, but the club needed four more goals just to advance, and it ran out of time.

Rangers advance to face Legia Warsaw in the next round. American right back Matt Polster didn’t make the 18 for the Scottish club.

Here’s a roundup of the rest of the Europa League action from Thursday:

HJK 2 – 2 Riga
Dinamo Tbilisi 1 – 1 Feyenoord
Spartak Moskva 2 – 1 Thun
Sūduva 2 – 1 Maccabi Tel Aviv
BATE 0 – 0 Sarajevo
AIK 1 – 1 Sheriff
Shakhtyor 1 – 1 Torino
Apollon 3 – 1 Austria Wien
Mladá Boleslav 0 – 1 FCSB
Yeni Malatyaspor 1 – 0 Partizan
Zrinjski 1 – 0 Malmö FF
Zorya 1 – 0 CSKA Sofia
Bnei Yehuda 2 – 1 Neftçi
The New Saints 0 – 4 Ludogorets
Hapoel Be’er Sheva 3 – 1 Norrköping
Trabzonspor 2 – 1 Sparta Praha
Valletta 0 – 4 Astana
Viktoria Plzeň 2 – 1 Antwerp AET
AEK Athens  1 – 1 Universitatea
PSV 0 – 0 Haugesund
Aris 3 – 1 Molde AET
Strasbourg 1 – 0 Lokomotiv Plovdiv
AZ 4 – 0 Mariupol’
Gent 3 – 0 AEK Larnaca
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 – 0 Vaduz
Sporting Braga 3 – 1 Brøndby
Rangers 3 – 1 Midtjylland
Aberdeen 0 – 2 Rijeka
Espanyol 3 – 0 Luzern

Europa League: Wolves’ qualifying quest starts with home win

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
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Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2019-20 campaign is officially underway after kicking off their Europa League qualification quest with a 2-0 victory over Northern Irish side Crusaders at Molineux Stadium on Thursday.

[ PHOTOS: Everton unveil plans for glittering waterfront stadium ]

Diogo Jota appears intent on building upon a strong first season at Wolves (nine goals in 33 Premier League appearances) with an even better sophomore campaign. The Portuguese forward opened the scoring with a sweetly struck half-volley in the 37th minute.

Another Portuguese youngster, Ruben Vinagre, joined Jota on the scoresheet in the 90th minute. The Crusaders goalkeeper fumbled the ball inside the six-yard box and Vinagre was in the perfect position to tap it home from nearly the goal line and double Wolves’ advantage as they go away from home for the second leg next week.

[ VIDEO: Ozil targeted in carjacking; Kolasinac comes out swinging ]

Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo fielded the same starting 11 that won the Premier League Asia Trophy by beating Manchester City on penalty kicks last weekend.

Thursday’s notable Europa League results

Espanyol 4-0 Stjarnan
Torino 3-0 Debrecen
Flora Tallin 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Rangers 2-0 Progres Niederkorn