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Good Greif as Raul finally breaks Slovan’s resistance for Wolves win – report

Wolves 1 (Jimenez 90+2) Slovan Bratislava 0.

Raul Jimenez finally ensured Wolves found a way past inspired Slovan Bratislava goalkeeper Dominic Greif and put his side within a point of reaching the group stages.

Jimenez’s 12th goal of the season came in the second minute of time added on after Greif had saved Ruben Neves’s 51st minute penalty and also denied Joao Moutinho, Jimenez, Matt Doherty and Neves from open play.

The Mexico international’s eighth goal in Europe this term came in the second minute of 12 added on after Bratislava defender Kenan Bazric was stretchered off with concussion in the 78th minute courtesy of a flying boot from Jimenez’s overhead kick.

Jimenez’s latest goal means Nuno Espírito Santo’s side need just a point to progress to the next round after leaders’ Sporting Braga’s 3-1 win over Besiktas.

Wolves are second in Group K with nine points, five ahead of Bratislava in third with just two games remaining.

The victory extended their combined unbeaten run in the Premier League and Europa League to nine matches.

Wolves have won three consecutive games in major European competition for the first time since winning their opening six in the 1971-72 Uefa Cup campaign, when they reached the final.

Slovan Bratislava have lost all four of their away games against English opponents in European competition by an aggregate score of 3-19.

Neves’s penalty miss ended a run of 14 converted spot-kicks for Wolves in all competitions, since Neves himself also missed against Sheffield United in the Championship in September 2017.

Nuno made three changes from the side that drew 1-1 at Arsenal five days before. Max Kilman came in for Romain Saiss on the left side of defence, Ruben Vinagre replaced Jonny at left wing back and Pedro Neto started on the left side of attack in place of Diogo Jota, who was serving a one-match ban after being sent off in the 2-1 win away to Slovan Bratislava.

Neto played wide left in a front three with Adama Traore on the right and Jimenez as the central striker.

It was Traore that ensured Wolves got off to a flying start. His surging run from Doherty’s pass set up Neto, but it seemed to happen too quickly for the Italian, who fired high into the evening skies.

For all that, Bratislava would have the best chance of the half after just six minutes.

Bazric stabbed wide at the far post from close range after Vernon De Marco got above Leander Dendoncker to flick on Dejan Drazic’s corner.

But Wolves weren’t to be put off their stride and Moutinho was desperately close to vreaking the deadlock in the eighth minute.

The Portugal international’s 25-yard drive took a wicked deflection off Joeri de Kamps and almost wrongfooted Greif, the keeper scrambling back to flick the ball away diving to his left.

Neves and Vinagre both fired off target from long range before Jimenez tested Greif with a quickly-taken angled drive after Doherty sent him galloping away in the inside right channel, Greif tipping the ball away.

Bratislava had a rare chance to try to catch Wolves out against the run of play after the half hour.

Sloppy passes by Moutinho then Kilman let Andraz Sporar in for a shot, but his effort was poor, weak and straight at Rui Patricio.

Wolves ended the half back in the ascendancy though as Dendoncker glanced wide from Vinagre’s cross after Moutinho worked a short corner.

The home side picked up where they had left off – on the attack, as they won a penalty in the 49th minute.

Doherty picked out the run of Neto down the right, but just as the Italian entered the box, captain Vasil Bozhikov trod on his right heel to send him flying and leave the referee pointing to the spot.

But Wolves failed to capitalise on their opportunity as Neves’s spot kick was saved by Greif diving to his right.

Wolves had another chance to break the deadlock when Moutinho brilliantly split the defence with a chip to send Doherty away, but the wing back’s flicked volley brought another fine stop from Greif.

The Bratislava keeper then saw Neves’s 30-yard blockbuster sting his hands as Wolves pressed for an elusive goal.

They were stopped in their flow when Bazric was caught by Jimenez’s boot in the face and immediately players signalled for medical help.

Jimenez was booked and the game was stopped for 12 minutes while the defender was treated on the pitch for concussion before he was loaded on to a stretcher and taken to hospital for tests.

But Wolves responded best to the delay as they grabbed what proved to be the winner.

Traore’s cross from the right clipped Artem Sukhotskiy and Jimenez was at the far post, leaping above Myenty Abena to plant a towering header past Greif.

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Kilman; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Vinagre (Jonny, 90+7 mins); Traore (Bennett, 90+9 mins), Jimenez, Neto (Cutrone, 69 minutes).

Substitutes: Ruddy, Vallejo, Perry, Saiss.

Bratislava (3-4-2-1): Greif; Bajric (Ljubicic 90 mins), Abena, Bozhikov; Medvedev, Ibrahim, de Kamps, De Marco; Drazic, Rateo (Sukhotskiy, 70 mins); Sporar.

Substitutes: Sulia, Trnovsky, Daniel, Nono, Holman.

Referee: Hendrikus S H Bas Nijhuis (Netherlands).

Attendance: 29,789.