Nuno Espirito Santo insists Wolves’ task is far from complete despite edging their Europa League play-off against Torino which has left them favourites to reach the group stages.
Wolves won 3-2 in Italy after leading 2-0 and 3-1 when a Bremer own goal and one from Diogo Jota put them ahead only for Lorenzo De Silvestri to halve their lead. Raul Jimenez responded with the goal of the night to give Wolves a two-goal cushion but Andrea Belotti’s late penalty gave the Italians renewed hope for the second leg at Molineux next Thursday.
Head coach Nuno Espirito Santo believes it would be naïve of Wolves to think their work is done. “It’s far from being over, it’s a close tie,” he said. “We have to play next week against a very, very tough and a very good team.”
Nuno however was happy with the performance of his side, which showed four changes from Monday’s 1-1 draw against Manchester United as Jesus Vallejo, Adama Traore, Romain Saiss and Ruben Vinagre replaced Ryan Bennett, Matt Doherty, Ruben Neves and Jonny Castro Otto. “We played good, we were organised, we stayed in shape, we produced some goals but there’s still one game to go and we have to be really good to perform again against a very good team,” added the boss.
After supplying the assist for Neves against United, Joao Moutinho was at it again, creating the first goal, which initially looked like it was a header from Saiss before being credited to Brazilian defender Bremer. The 32-year-old midfielder has played all but the final 38 minutes of the 4-0 third round qualifying win against FC Pyunik of Wolves’ seven games so far this season in all competitions. Nuno feels the experienced Portugal international can play two games a week but then the staff have to make a decision on whether he can play a major part in a third match in such a short space of time.
“Moutinho is just one case among others who plays two games and three games in a row, then we have to decide for the next one,” said the boss. “He respects himself, he rests and he’s a fantastic player and other players play also. It’s a very busy schedule – we have to manage that and always try to make good decisions so the team stays compact and organised.”
“The most important thing is the players understand they have to really, really work hard and recover well to be able to cope with such a difficult time and such a difficult schedule.”
Another player to catch the eye was Adam Traore at right wing back. After forgetting his passport for Wolves’ last away game in Europe – the 4-0 success at FC Pyunik – the Spanish flier carried on from where he left off following his impressive display against Manchester United in Turin to set up the second goal for Jota, while two Torino players were booked for fouling him.
“I’m pleased,” said Nuno. “He helped the team, and others did what they had to do. It’s about tasks, it’s about rules, it’s about always being a team. Knowing that, when you know yourselves better and the characteristic is of the player, what they can give to the team is important.”