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

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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.

Wolves win at Watford to boost Europa hopes (video)

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  • Mexico’s Jimenez scores from Jota assist
  • Gray levels score
  • Jota wins it
  • Wolves four points clear of 8th

Wolverhampton Wanderers have a solid chance of qualifying for Europe, one season after promotion from the Championship.

Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota scored Saturday in a huge 2-1 win over seventh-place rivals Watford at Vicarage Road and now enjoy a four-point cushion on the Hornets as well as Everton, who drew Crystal Palace.

Watford could still take the Europa League place by beating Manchester City in the FA Cup Final. Their goal came from Andre Gray.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Wolves had four of the match’s five shots on target, though Watford had more of the ball.

Jimenez nodded a Jota cross home to start the scoring in the 41st minute, though Watford equalized shortly after the break.

A Ryan Bennett mistake let Gray free on goal for 1-1, but Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster returned the gift when he misread a long ball from Ruben Neves and Jota headed into the yawning goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

WATCH: Mexico’s Jimenez celebrates sensational goal with WWE mask

AP Photo/Matt Dunham
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Mexican striker Raul Jimenez continued his outstanding debut Premier League season with a goal that may just ensure Wolves’ place in the FA Cup Final against Manchester City.

The celebration was pretty great as well, as Jimenez emphasized his 16th goal in all competitions with a lucha libre mask.

[ MORE: Everton 1-0 Arsenal ]

A Matt Doherty goal has Wolves up 1-0 on Sunday at Wembley Stadium when Jimenez found himself in a mass of humanity awaiting a cross.

That’s when Jimenez leapt and chested a cross into position for an airborne volley past Gomes.

It was magnificent, and the 27-year-old El Tri striker was ready with his mask.

Report: Wolves set to announce $40m Jimenez purchase

Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
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You could argue no player has been more valuable to his Premier League club than Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Benfica loanee Raul Jimenez, and Wolves supporters would probably agree with that notion.

The Express and Star says Wolves will announce a $40 million purchase of the Mexican star on Wednesday.

[ MORE: LUNA Bar pledges to make up roster pay gap for USWNT ]

Jimenez has 15 goals in all competitions for Wolves, including 12 goals and adding eight assists in league play.

He had an assist in Tuesday’s defeat of Manchester United, and has 15 goals in 69 caps for the Mexican national team.

He turns 28 next month, helping to set the market for veteran center forwards. And with Wolves having two chances to qualify for the Europa League, either by winning the FA Cup or finishing 7th in the Premier League,

How about Mexico? Martino posts pair of blowout wins

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Fairly or unfairly, the managerial hires of the United States men’s national team and Mexican NT will be scrutinized and measured against each other more than usual.

Gregg Berhalter and Tata Martino both came from Major League Soccer, albeit with quite different resumes, and both were available to the United States Soccer Federation before general manager Earnie Stewart and the crew settled on Berhalter.

[ MORE: Takeaways from USMNT break ]

The former Columbus Crew man’s early days with the USMNT have been well-covered here, with the Yanks unbeaten in four friendlies following a Tuesday draw with Chile, but about Mexico?

It’s going very, very well.

Martino, of course, is taking over a potentially golden generation of El Tri, and isn’t making his first foray into international management, but there’s little doubt he’s made a tremendous first impression with Mexico.

It wasn’t stylish on Day One, but El Tri was clinical in a 3-1 defeat of Chile which saw Wolves striker Raul Jimenez lead a run of three goals in 13 minutes and goals on all three shots on target.

The second match was more of a runaway, with Mexico scoring three times in the first 24 minutes against Paraguay before the visitors went down to 10 men through a Miguel Almiron red card in a 4-2 El Tri win.

Edson Alvarez, 21, is the only player Martino started in both matches, as Mexico flaunted its depth in the impressive wins.

About the only thing that didn’t go well for Martino was this: (video)