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Saiss and Raul silence sell-out ‘behind-closed-doors’ crowd in Wolves win

Slovan Bratislava 1 (Sporar 11) Wolves 2 (Saiss 58, Jimenez 63).

Wolves came from behind to make it back-to-back Europa League wins with a second successive Euro victory on their travels.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side followed up their three points at Besiktas by winning again by the odd goal at a partisan ‘behind-closed-doors’ tie at Tehelne pole stadium to go second in Group K.

But the visitors, in their all-green third kit, had to do it the hard way after Andraz Sporar’s opener before Romain Saiss cancelled that out and Raul Jimenez grabbed the winner from the spot.

Then they played out the last three minutes plus time added on with 10 men after substitute Diogo Jota was sent off for two bookable offences.

Not surprisingly, head coach Nuno again shuffled his pack, making five changes from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Southampton on Saturday in the first of four consecutive away games, and all in the space of 10 days.

The biggest surprise was a start for Max Kilman, the 22-year-old left-sided defender making only his third senior appearance in gold and black and second start, in for the injured Ryan Bennett.

Jesus Vallejo, who replaced Bennett early on at the weekend, failed to make the squad after his nervous performance against Saints.

Elsewhere, Matt Doherty, Morgan Gibbs-White, Saiss – fit again after missing the Southampton game with a hamstring injury – and Ruben Vinagre replaced Adama Traore, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves and Jonny Castro Otto.

Gibbs-White started in the more advanced role of the central midfield trio, while another homegrown midfielder, Taylor Perry, 18, was among the substitutes.

But it was the arrival of Traore for Patrick Cutrone at half-time that sparked the Wolves revival.

In an atmosphere made surreal by almost 20,000 under-14s making up the vast majority of the crowd, Wolves initially settled well but trailed in the 11th minute.

Rabiu Ibrahim sent Sporar racing through the middle with a through ball that dropped between Conor Coady and Willy Boly, and Rui Patricio was beaten by an early shot which ripped into the bottom corner.

Wolves threatened when Gibbs-White curled wide from distance after surging forwards from midfield.

The visitors came increasingly under pressure for much of the first half with Bratislava on top, but still managed to cause the hosts problems when Willy Boly rose highest from a Joao Moutinho free kick only to glance wide nine minutes before the interval.

Gibbs-White then tried to test goalkeeper Dominik Greif, but the midfielder’s volley drifted narrowly over the bar.

Wolves needed to change something at the break and Nuno’s introduction of Traore did the trick.

The Spanish flier was introduced on the right of a front three for the inneffective Cutrone after Wolves switched from 3-5-2 and he soon caused Slovan a headache.

Three minutes after the restart, Traore found Doherty, who teed up Jimenez to pass to Gibbs-White, who fired straight at Greif from seven yards out.

But Wolves had to be on their guard at the other end as star man Sporar again gathered a ball over the top and lashed goalwards only for Patricio to get a hand to it this time and divert the ball over.

However it was an improved performance from the visitors and they turned the game on its head with two goals in six minutes.

Wolves drew level with a stunning effort from Saiss in the 58th minute. The Morocco international let fly from 25 yards with a left-foot drive that buried into the bottom corner, despite Greif getting a hand to it.

Within five minutes, Wolves took the lead when Jimenez went down under challenge from De Marco from a cross and won a penalty.

For the second game in a row, the Mexico international scored from the spot, sending Greif the wrong way for his 10th goal of the season, and seventh in Europe.

Straight after the goal, Jota came on for Gibbs-White. But the Portuguese attacker didn’t last long, seeing red in the 87th minute after two needless yellow cards within a minute of each other.

Wolves however managed to see out the win and extend their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions.

Slovan (4-2-3-1): Greif; Medvedev, Abena, Bozhikov, De Marco; Ibrahim (Cavric, 81), De Kamps; Daniel (Ratao, 66), Holman (Ljubicic, 57), Moha; Sporar.

Subs not used: Sulla (gk), Drazic, Nono, Bajric.

Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio; Boly, Coady (c), Kilman; Doherty, Moutinho, Saiss (Dendoncker, 75), Gibbs-White (Jota, 59), Vinagre; Jimenez, Cutrone (Traore, HT)

Subs not used: Ruddy (gk), Jonny, Neves, Perry.

Sent off: Jota (87).

Referee: Yevhenii Aranovskyi (Ukraine).

Attendance: 20,333.