Diogo Jota

10-man Wolves level late against pitiful Palace defending

Leave a comment

Wolves fought back for a deserved point via a last-second equalizer, as Crystal Palace’s stoppage time silliness allowed a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

A Leander Dendoncker own goal put the Eagles in front, and Palace was up a man when Romain Saiss took his second yellow with 18 minutes to play.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

But danger man Jeff Schlupp was denied in the box by star man Rui Patricio minutes before Diogo Jota capitalized on Palace allowed a silver platter cross to get to his feet.

Wolves are still winless, with four draws through six matches, and sit 19th. Palace’s eighth point has it 12th on the table.


Three things we learned

1. Ward giveth, and taketh away: Joel Ward forced the own goal that gave Palace the lead when his wild drive through traffic turned off Leander Dendoncker to defy Rui Patricio, but his inexplicable stooping, missed intervention on the game winner was stunning. More on that below.

2. Wolves fight to death to find easy winner: Adama Traore, Jonny Otto, and the Wolves attack did not bow their heads after Palace took their fortunate lead nor after Romain Saiss’ second yellow card sent them diown a man, and Nuno Espirito Santo will love how his men fought to the final whistle while making timely interventions at the back (and taking advantage of Palace misfires).

Wilfried Zaha was dispossessed and it took three uncontested passes down the left of the Palace shape for Traore to find himself one-on-one with Patrick Van Aanholt. The Dutch defender played off Traore, who simply swept a cross to the back post. A chest trap, volley or 900 other things from Joel Ward could’ve ended the game, but he tried and missed a diving header that allowed Jota two touches to roof into an empty cage.

3. Silly from Saiss should’ve sealed it: Romain Saiss was sitting on yellow for a foul on Wilfried Zaha when he went out of his way to foul the Ivorian right on the touch line. Both managers saw the clear foul up close and personal, and Nuno Espirito Santo will certainly not like the idea of trusting Saiss again after his automatic ban.

Man of the Match: Vicente Guaita — The Crystal Palace goalkeeper was sensational in the draw, and the only reason Wolves weren’t ahead well before the Dendoncker own goal.


[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

An early corner kick led to a James McArthur goal mouth block of Leander Dendoncker’s low drive toward the near post, as Wolves got their first pressure on Palace following an opening 10 minutes that belonged largely to the hosts.

Palace’s Ayew headed a Luka Milivojevic corner into the arms of Rui Patricio in the 26th.

Vicente Guaita made the play of the first half when Raul Jimenez looped a cross over Mamadou Sakho to an unmarked Matt Doherty. The powered header was slapped away by a flying Guaita to keep it scoreless.

The keeper was again called upon when a 1-2 allowed Diogo Jota to lash a shot on goal in the 38th.

Palace took a stunning lead within 40 seconds of halftime, as Ward’s hard drive took a big turn off Dendoncker to spin past Patricio. The sequence began with Jeff Schlupp dribbling Willy Boly, the latter being imperious for most of his season.

By the time Romain Saiss was shown his second yellow for a fouls on Wilfried Zaha, the game felt academic. Would the 10-man Wolves find anything in the final 18 minutes?

The opposite, really, as Schlupp cued up substitute Christian Benteke which looked set for glory until the Belgian took an extra touch and drove into the arms of Patricio.

Jimenez, Jota lead Wolves to Europa League blowout

Photo by Sam Bagnall - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nothing’s impossible, but Wolves built an improbable lead after one leg to take a step closer to the Europa League group stage.

Mexican striker Raul Jimenez scored twice and Diogo Jota had three assists as Wolves buried Armenian side Pyunik 4-0 in Yerevan on Thursday.

[ MORE: PL transfer grades ]

The second leg comes at the Molineux in one week, and Wolves begin the Premier League season on Sunday morning with a visit to Leicester City (Watch live, 9 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com)

Matt Doherty and Ruben Neves also scored, as Wolves led 2-0 at the break following Raul’s 42nd minute goal. He completed his brace one minute after halftime.

Should Wolves manage its lead, it will have to win more round to reach the group stage.

Europa League: Wolves’ qualifying quest starts with home win

Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Live, Europa League: Wolves return to Europe

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Wolverhampton Wanderers are playing at home in Europe for the first time in 39 years.

The home fans at Molineux can barely contain their excitement.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men take on Crusaders of Northern Ireland on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round, first leg.

Wolves’ reward for finishing seventh in their first campaign back in the Premier League last season is a clash against the Northern Irish side, and it is a tie they are expected to get through comfortably.

They’ve looked sharp in preseason so far and beat Manchester City on penalty kicks to win the PL Asia Trophy last week.

Elsewhere in Europa League action Steven Gerrard’s Glasgow Rangers face Progres, who knocked them out of the competition two years ago, plus Torino, Espanyol, Legia Warsaw and Eintracht Frankfurt are all in action.

Click on the link above to follow all of the action live, while below is the schedule for the later Europa League qualifying games on Thursday. We will have you covered on Wolves’ European adventure here on Pro Soccer Talk with a recap, reaction and analysis.


Europa League fixtures
Piast Gliwice v. Riga — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Norrkoping v. Liepaja — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vidi v. Vaduz — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Luzern v. KI — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Aris v. AEL — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Dunajska Streda v. Atromitos — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Gent v. Viitorul — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Jeunesse Esch v. Vitoria — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
AZ Alkmaar v. BK Hacken — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Domzale v. Malmo — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Strasbourg v. Maccabi Haifa — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Rangers v. Progres — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Wolves v. Crusaders — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Buducnost v. Zorya — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Shamrock Rovers v. Apollon Limassol — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Valur v. Ludogorets Razgrad — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Torino v. Debrecen — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Espanyol v. Stjarnan — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Legia Warsaw v. KuPS — 3 p.m. ET Thursday

Wolves boss praises Jota, Jimenez, prefers not to focus on Europa

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nuno Espirito Santo has Wolves on the brink of seventh place, but is bristling at the notion that it will lift his promoted side in the Europa League at the first try.

The Wolves manager, buoyed by Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez, saw his side get a measure of vengeance by beating Watford 2-1 at Vicarage Road on Saturday to move four points clear of the pack in the race for seventh.

[ RECAP: Watford 1-2 Wolves ]

Now things would be different if Wolves had defeated Watford in the FA Cup semifinal and not required such vengeance. As it stands, Watford could beat Man City in the final and render seventh moot when it comes to the UEL.

Still, most expect Man City to handle its business at Wembley. Most. From the BBC:

“Maybe I’m the only one in the country that knows that seventh position doesn’t guarantee anything. It’s not about finishing as high as possible, but it’s about finishing as well as possible.”

“We don’t have to think about Europe. Nothing is decided and nothing is 100 percent sure. It’s Fulham in our last home game. Let’s give Molineux something.”

Wolves are back on their game after some hiccups following the semifinal setback, beating Arsenal and now Watford. But that’s actually not too far off from their season-long habit of looking like a Top Four contender against the big teams and slipping up a bit when the lights are a bit lower.

One man who’s been consistently strong is Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who scored his 13th league goal and 17th in all competitions in the win. He also has eight assists on the season, one which gave Wolves little choice but to exercise the option to buy him from Benfica.

Still, Nuno wants more.

“Raul Jimenez has to improve himself,” he said. “The team will improve. As long as we keep together then we will become a better team.”

Diogo Jota also scored and set-up Jimenez for his marker. Jota to Jimenez is the second-top scorer-assist pairing in the league to Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser cueing up Callum Wilson.

“Jota and Jimenez have been working really hard,” said Nuno. “I truly believe the more time they spend together the more good things will happen.”

Wolves finish home to Fulham and away to Liverpool.