Matt Doherty plays 90 minutes as Wolves win again in Europe
It had looked like Nuno Espirito Santo’s side would be frustrated by a superb goalkeeper
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Irish defender Matt Doherty in action against Slovan Bratislava at the Molineux stadium. Photograph: Getty Images
Wolves 1 Slovan Bratislava 0
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.
Irish international 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.