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Nuno relieved after Vinagre’s late goal eases pressure on Wolves

Relieved Nuno Espirito Santo admitted Wolves’ second goal at the death could make all the difference next week against Crusaders.
Ruben Vinagre’s strike to punish Sean O’Neill’s goalkeeping howler gave dominant Wolves a 2-0 first leg win to take to Belfast for the concluding Europa League second qualifying tie next Thursday. Diogo Jota had taken Mel Eves’s near-40-year record of being the club’s last scorer in European competition with a volley in the 37th minute.
“It makes a difference, there’s no doubt about it, for the second leg,” said the head coach about Vinagre’s strike. “But we have to look at the game and see what moment we are in, how we do it, things that we want to do. They (Crusaders) were well organised so there were no spaces, but we need to be more accurate and sharp – all these things that will come.”
Wolves dominated throughout but wasted a host of chances, with efforts from Joao Moutinho, Jota, Morgan Gibbs-White (three times), Leander Dendoncker, Jonny Castro Otto and Raul Jimenez either too close to O’Neill or off target.
“It requires solutions – we cannot be frustrated; there was action after action trying things out, such as going wide, one against ones, going to the other side,” said Nuno. “We must improve set-pieces because we didn’t create many. We touched the ball but not converted chances, so there are things we have to work on. We must work.
“It was tough. They did a fantastic job. It was very hot, no spaces, but the idea of the game was there so I’m proud of that. This is how we play; sometimes we score more, sometimes we don’t, but we always create things.”
Wolves were backed by a sell-out crowd of 29,708 for their first European tie for 14,176 days, since October 1, 1980 – the only empty seats being in the Crusaders end and segragation – and Nuno was delighted to be back at Molineux.
“What’s really special is to be back at Molineux. It’s amazing, fantastic,” he added. “When it is in European competition for the first time in 40 years, it’s even more special, so I’m really proud to be in charge of this group.”
Real Madrid defender Jesus Vellejo was in the directors box as he prepares to sign on loan for the season, while a £17m-plus deal is believed to be close for AC Milan strike Patrick Cutrone. Nuno is confident of completing signings before the transfer window shuts on August 8 at 5pm.
“We will add to the squad,” he insisted. “We want quality, above quantity, defnitely, yes. But we don’t speak about players that are not in the squad. Let’s speak about the players who played.”
Nuno is conscious it’s very early days, with players at different stages of preparation. Raul Jimenez and Romain Saiss came off the bench after a two-week break from their seasons finishing.
“We look at how we begin – a different approach, players coming in at different times, building a squad, bringing players in, creating a model with young players, an elite group of development with players such as Taylor Perry, Dion Sanderson, Luke Cundle, and still compete,” added Nuno.