A boisterous Molineux settled into watching Everton having the better of early play, and Seamus Coleman forced an early save out of Rui Patricio.
Richarlison opened his account just a few minutes after collecting a yellow card. The Brazilian found Michael Keane‘s knockdown of a Leighton Baines free kick to make it 1-0 to the Toffees.
The Brazilian then led a 2v1 break, but opted for the outside of his right foot instead of the left for a cross, flubbing the chance to find Theo Walcott. Wolves broke right back, with Jordan Pickford saving a Helder Costa attempt.
The game changed wildly when Jagielka’s lunging recovery attempt of a casual touch clattered into the ankle of Diego Jota.
And Neves curled the ensuing free kick upper 90 in sensational fashion, sending the clubs to the locker rooms level at one.
The game remained even, the pouring rain certainly depriving the match of a certain amount of flow.
Two saves marked the second half as it reached the 60th minute, with Cenk Tosun denied by Patricio and Wolves’ Jimenez blocked by Pickford.
Richarlison nearly had an assist when he knocked down a cross into the path of Walcott, but the ex-Arsenal man couldn’t get purchase on his shot.
And then he put the Toffees ahead, rewarding his manager for both buying him and leaving him in the game on yellow. It was a cute curling effort inside the far post and beyond the reach of a diving Patricio.
But hold on! Neves sent a beautiful cross over the head of a leaping Keane, and Jimenez buried his header to make it 2-2 with 10 minutes to play.
They will challenge for top half because… The roster, man. Joao Moutinho? Rui Patricio? On a promoted team? Come on. There are questions of adaptability to the league, but it won’t be a surprise should Wolves scrap enough points to be in the discussion for a top half finish come January.
They’ll fail to launch and find relegation a probability if… they can’t quickly find their footing in a tricky first half-dozen match days. Apart from the challenges of Manchester City and Manchester United, Wolves will meet Leicester City, Everton, Burnley, and West Ham. Not a dud amongst the bunch.
Transfers out: Benik Afobe (loan, Stoke City), Barry Douglas ($5 million Leeds), Ben Marshall ($2.5 million, Norwich City).
Best possible XI
—– Patricio —–
—- Jonny —- Saiss —- Boly — Vinagre —-
—- Neves —- Moutinho —-
—- Cavaliero —- Costa —-Jota —-
—- Jimenez —-
Ranking their offseason: 9/10 – Joao Moutinho for $7 million? That alone is insane, even with Wolves’ connection to Portugal. Throw in Raul Jimenez (El Tri!), Diogo Jota, and Rui Patricio, and it’s difficult to see Wolves not beating the drop.
Coaches’ Corner: Nuno Espirito Santo — The 44-year-old is a rising name in the management, winning more than half his matches at Valencia and Porto before spearheading Wolves’ run to the Premier League. He’ll have a chance to really raise his profile as a story of the season.
PST Predicts: A hot enough start allows Wolves to focus on cups, where they make a decent run in either the League or FA Cup while finishing somewhere between 14th and 11th.
Dost scored 27 league goals this season, and joined Fernandes and Martins as Top 15 performers according to WhoScored. Carvalho, the big 26-year-old midfielder, was 21st.
Sporting has done a remarkable job identifying talent from without and growing talent from within, only once spending more than $14 million on a player (Dost) while selling 11 individuals for that much or more (Adrien Silva, Ruben Semedo, Joao Mario, Islam Slimani, Marcos Rojo, Bruma, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Viana, Aldo Duscher).
Only a cursory search through our pages finds several of Sporting’s want-aways in the gossip section for almost thrice that figure. Carvalho (and/or Sporting) has resisted interest of as much as $50 million, often connected with Jose Mourinho. Dost has been linked with Newcastle, and Patricio said to be making a move to PL new boys Wolves.
To lose these players for free, largely because of an attack from “supporters” is bonkers. And in your gut, you have to think the players stand a very good chance of being allowed to leave for safety reasons, making for an unexpected sort of free agent frenzy.
How long would it take for a club to rebound from that, and how far could Sporting sink on the table? Fortunately, it would have some time to rebuild for its Europa League run, but wow.