Late Jimenez header keeps Wolves on course for knockout stages

Late Jimenez header keeps Wolves on course for knockout stages

Wolves took a big step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League after Raul Jimenez struck in injury time to defeat Slovan Bratislava at Molineux.

It looked like Nuno Espirito Santo’s side would be frustrated by a superb goalkeeping display by Dominik Greif, who included a Ruben Neves penalty save at the start of the second half among his heroics.

However, his resistance was finally broken when Jimenez headed home Adama Traore’s cross to give Wolves a 1-0 victory.

It was the first time Wanderers had won three successive games in a major European competition since their 1971/72 UEFA Cup campaign – when they won six in a row en route to reaching the final.

The win kept Nuno’s team in second spot in Group K, a point behind Braga, who they travel to Portugal to play next, and extended their lead over third-placed Slovan to five points.

There were chances at both ends early on. Pedro Neto made a mess of his finish just six yards out following a pacy burst forward by Traore, before the unmarked Kenan Bajric let Wolves off the hook when he somehow volleyed wide at the far post with the goal gaping.

Matt Doherty, in the starting line-up despite being forced off with a knee injury at Arsenal last weekend, made a goal-saving last-ditch interception on the penalty spot after Slovan created another good chance.

Greif made the first of a string of fine saves on the night in the eighth minute with a brilliant reflex stop to keep out Joao Moutinho’s deflected shot from 25 yards out.

The game settled down thereafter, with Wolves dominating possession without really creating any more clear opportunities.

Greif was called upon again midway through the first half to turn behind a low Jimenez effort.

Slovan enjoyed a sustained period of pressure for the first time in the match just after the half hour mark, with Wolves having to defend a succession of corners, which they did manfully.

Wolves had a golden opportunity to take the lead at the start of the second half after Vasil Bozhikov accidentally clipped the heels of Neto as the two chased a ball down the right side of the area and the referee awarded a penalty.

However, Greif continued to frustrate the hosts as he dived to his right to push away Neves’ casually-taken spot-kick.

The Slovak keeper was at it again on the hour, this time palming away Doherty’s close-range flick after the full-back’s clever run was picked out by Moutinho’s inch-perfect lofted pass.

After failing from 12 yards, Neves tried his luck from 25 but once more Greif pushed it away.

There was a lengthy stoppage after 79 minutes when Bajric required medical attention after Jimenez kicked the defender in the head attempting an overhead volley. It was totally accidental but the Wolves striker was booked following the incident.

Bajric was eventually lifted safely on to a stretcher and carried from the field. When play resumed, the fourth official indicated that there would be 12 added minutes.

Shortly afterwards, Wolves finally managed to beat Greif. Traore beat his man down the right and his deflected cross was met at the far post by a towering header from Jimenez.

More on this topic

Parrott: 'Walking out in green in my home town was the best feeling ever'Parrott: 'Walking out in green in my home town was the best feeling ever'

Sean Maguire: Ireland victory important for qualifier against DenmarkSean Maguire: Ireland victory important for qualifier against Denmark

Player ratings from Ireland's victory over New ZealandPlayer ratings from Ireland's victory over New Zealand

Ireland ease to comeback victory on night of firsts against New ZealandIreland ease to comeback victory on night of firsts against New Zealand

More in this Section

Catriona Matthew to captain Europe again in 2021 Solheim CupCatriona Matthew to captain Europe again in 2021 Solheim Cup

Football rumours from the mediaFootball rumours from the media

Mullins plans another light campaign for Photo en route to CheltenhamMullins plans another light campaign for Photo en route to Cheltenham

Nathan Collins confident of U21 chances in ArmeniaNathan Collins confident of U21 chances in Armenia


Lifestyle

I’d always promised myself a day off school when Gay Bryne died.Secret diary of an Irish teacher: I’ve been thinking about my students, wondering who their ‘Gay Byrne’ will be

In an industry where women battle ageism and sexism, Meryl Streep has managed to decide her own destiny – and roles, writes Suzanne HarringtonJeepers Streepers: Hollywood royalty, all hail queen Meryl

'Ask Audrey' has been the newspaper's hysterical agony aunt “for ages, like”.Ask Audrey: Guten tag. Vot the f**k is the story with your cycle lanes?

Daphne Wright’s major new exhibition at the Crawford addresses such subjects as ageing and consumerism, writes Colette SheridanFinding inspiration in domestic situations

More From The Irish Examiner