Raul Jimenez ends long wait for goal with Wolves’ magical winner at Southampton
Raul Jimenez conjured a moment of magic to score his first goal since suffering a career-threatening skull fracture and took Wolves to a 1-0 Premier League win at Southampton without a win.
The Mexican forward – wearing a protective helmet after his sickening clash with former Arsenal defender David Luiz last November – has adamantly ended a 336-day wait to hit the net after waltzing through the Saints’ defense in the 61st minute.
He beat Southampton defender Jan Bednarek twice, while leaving Mohammed Salisu on his back, en route to calmly get past home goalkeeper Alex McCarthy past a packed end.
Jimenez feared he would never play again following his horrific head injury at Emirates Stadium almost 10 months ago and only returned to the pitch at the start of this campaign.
His striking strike was a rare quality piece during a largely forgettable affair – the 250th top-tier game staged at St Mary’s – and only ensured Wolves a second success of the campaign under the new boss. Bruno Lage.
Southampton’s loss leaves them eight games without a win dating back to last season and three successive outings without finding the net.
After a series of tough fixtures, the hosts entered the competition after four straight draws, including last weekend’s honorable point against champions Manchester City.
Saints manager Ralph Hasenhuttl made a forced switch as Salisu replaced injured Jack Stephens while Hwang Hee-chan – the only Wolves player to score an elite goal this quarter before the kick-off. sending – was one of three players recalled away. side.
Despite their struggles in front of goal, Wolves could have been ahead after just 47 seconds.
Raging winger Nelson Semedo saw the goal clearly after being slipped by Jimenez to the right, but his scathing training was pushed back by McCarthy.
The start of the game quickly fizzled out, with both teams casually trading possession and struggling to create in the dismal opening 45 minutes.
Nathan Redmond believed he had opened the scoring five minutes before the break, but his neat turn and finish from below the crossbar were quickly ruled out, moments before Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa redeemed a poor clearance in comfortably refusing Adam Armstrong.
Portuguese striker Sa was forced into more serious action early in the second half as Southampton shifted into high gear.
Greek club Olympiacos’ summer signing used his legs to fend off a weak effort from Valentino Livramento after a good job from Armstrong before fending off an effort from Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Jimenez’s solo strike then turned the proceedings in Wolves’ favor.
The former Benfica striker stepped back in time as he pushed Bednarek off to the left before charging towards the box, bamboozling the two Southampton center-backs and coldly coming in to the side.
Hasenhuttl responded by throwing on the attacking trio Moussa Djenepo, Armando Broja and Shane Long from the bench.
With the home crowd increasingly choppy, the Saints pushed the bodies forward into the finals and had six minutes of extra time to chase a leveler.
But the afternoon belonged to Jimenez, who was denied a second by McCarthy deep in the extra period before soaking up praise from his club’s cheering fans.