Raul Jimenez’s first Premier League goal in 336 days clinched a 1-0 win for Wolverhampton Wanderers over Southampton.
The number nine ended a frustrating spell in front of goal following his return from a fractured skull to earn Wolves’ third win on the trot at St Mary’s.
Wolves have now won successive away games in the Premier League and move onto six points from as many matches.
Nelson Semedo could have given Wolves the lead inside one minute. Jimenez exchanged passes with Daniel Podence before sliding the overlapping Semedo in on goal but the Portuguese full-back was denied by Alex McCarthy.
It seemed as though a drab first half had peaked with that Semedo chance but Southampton conjured up a moment of short-lived excitement shortly before the break.
Valentino Livramento clipped a ball through to Nathan Redmond and the ex-Birmingham City forward produced an excellent finish to beat Jose Sa.
The offside flag was swiftly raised though and replays showed Redmond was well beyond the last Wolves defender when the ball was played.
Sa had to be on his guard shortly after half-time to deny Livramento, who produced a powerful shot from the angle when found by Adam Armstrong.
The Wolves goalkeeper then made an outstanding double save to prevent Mohamed Elyounoussi and Che Adams from giving Saints the lead.
With Saints pressure mounting, Wolves needed a moment of inspiration. Step forward, Raul Jimenez.
The striker latched onto a long punt from Sa, outmuscled and tricked his way past Saints defenders Jan Bednarek and Mohammed Salisu, before coolly slotting the ball past McCarthy.
Jimenez – whose previous Premier League goal was scored against Newcastle United on October 25, 2020 – wheeled away in celebration to the sound of his iconic terrace chant ‘Si Senor’.
Southampton pushed for a leveller but their chances had been and gone. In fact, it was Wolves who almost added a second through Jimenez in stoppage time.
He again worked his way into a goal scoring position and, after electing to shoot rather than feed Adama Traore, Jimenez was denied by McCarthy.
It didn’t matter though as the Mexican’s first Premier League goal in 11 months clinched a second three points of the season for Wolves.
Jose Sa 8
Sa made three important saves at the beginning of the second half, including a very impressive double stop from Elyounoussi and Adams.
The Portuguese shot-stopper continues to prove himself as an adequate replacement for Rui Patricio between the sticks.
Max Kilman 7.5
After a sluggish showing against Brentford last weekend, Kilman was back to his best today. The likes of Armstrong and Redmond tried to isolate Kilman out wide, but he coped with everything Saints threw at him.
Conor Coady 7.5
Coady’s organisational skills were typically excellent and his positioning was very good too. The captain was well placed to thwart numerous attacks from a Southampton forward line which wasn’t lacking in variation.
Romain Saiss 7
It was a surprise Saiss kept his place in the starting XI with Boly back in the fold, but the Moroccan was very solid. He produced a good block late on to prevent Long from scoring a tap-in.
Nelson Semedo 7
Semedo should have put Wolves ahead early on and could quite easily have scored three or four based on the chances he’s had this season.
His all-round play is much improved this campaign and even the ultra-tricky Saints substitute Djenepo didn’t cause Semedo too many problems.
Leander Dendoncker 8
The Belgian’s star showing versus Spurs guaranteed his selection at St Mary’s and he’ll probably keep his place now.
Dendoncker provided extra running power in midfield and rarely wasted possession in a comfortable 90 minutes.
Joao Moutinho 7
Moutinho sat much deeper with Dendoncker alongside him and tried to dictate the tempo of Wolves’ play, albeit not successfully in a ponderous first half performance from Lage’s team.
He produced some well-timed tackles to regain possession from the hosts and used the ball well to help Wolves see the game out.
The play on the left between Marcal and Hwang in the first half left a lot to be desired. Marcal was asked to get involved further forward much more with the one-man-band of Traore sat on the bench, and it didn’t suit the Brazilian.
Marcal put in a solid enough shift defensively and used his experience to frustrate Southampton towards the end.
Daniel Podence 6
Floated around Jimenez without ever really threatening to create a chance of note. Podence has bundles of talent, it’s just a question of Lage finding a position within the system where he can thrive.
Raul Jimenez 8*
Lage has been reluctant to pile the pressure on Jimenez, but everyone associated with Wolves knew the importance of Jimenez getting off the mark.
What a goal it was, too. Out of nothing, Jimenez beat two defenders to a hopeful ball forward and produced a typically unerring finish.
His play in general was very smart, even before the goal, but you could see a change in him almost instantly after he’d broken his duck.
Hwang Hee-chan 6
The South Korean was feeding off scraps with Wolves reluctant to throw bodies forward in contrast to previous games under Lage.
He worked tirelessly for the team though and forced errors from Southampton’s defenders.
Adama Traore (for Podence, 70) 6
Frustrated Southampton late on by keeping the ball high up the field.
Ki-Jana Hoever (for Semedo, 87) N/A
Ruben Neves (for Hwang, 87) N/A
Not used: Ruddy, Moulden, Boly, Cundle, Trincao, Silva
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