Wolves 1 (Jimenez 90+2) Slovan Bratislava 0
Raul Jimenez’s leaping header two minutes into injury time earned Wolves a third successive Europa League victory and strengthened their position in Group K. The hosts had previously found Slovan Bratislava goalkeeper Dominik Greif in inspired form, but finally broke his resolve when Jimenez met Adama Traore’s cross.
Previously, the goalkeeper had denied Jimenez and Matt Doherty with impressive stops, either side of saving a Ruben Neves penalty shortly after the break, but he was given no chance as Jimenez headed in his 12th goal of the season to see off the Slovakians.
Still hurting from Wolves’ comeback a fortnight ago, Slovan Bratislava began brightly and should have taken the lead after just five minutes, however, neither Vernon De Marco or Kenan Bajric managed to get a clean connection on an inviting delivery.
However, the lively start to the action was at both ends and Bratislava goalkeeper Greif had to produce a stunning save to claw away Joao Moutinho’s hugely deflected strike. By the mid-point in the half it was all Wolves and when Doherty found Jimenez in the channel, the Mexican’s sweetly-struck effort needed tipping wide by Greif.
Despite dominating possession, Wolves were struggling to break down their stubborn opponents. Youngster Maximilian Kilman, who started the first fixture a fortnight ago, glanced a Ruben Vinagre cross wide just before the break.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Slovan Bratislava 0
Like in recent weeks, Wolves improved after the interval and earnt a golden opportunity to take the lead just seven minutes after the break when Vasil Bozhikov tripped Pedro Neto inside the area. However, Neves stepped up and watched his spot kick pushed away by Greif.
The goalkeeper’s inspired night continued as Moutinho expertly picked out Doherty, who’d timed his run to perfection, but was denied a clever opener by Greif at close range. In a bit to change Wolves’ fortunes in front of goal, Nuno Espirito Santo gave Patrick Cutrone his chance, in place of Neto.
The one-way traffic continued and Greif soon found a Neves hit too hot to catch, but got fortunate with the rebound, before the Portuguese had a goal-bound effort blocked by some frantic Bratislava defending.
It was defending his own goal where De Marco suffered an unfortunate, but serious-looking injury, as he was caught by a Jimenez overhead-kick and received lengthy treatment before being stretched off to applause from all four sides of Molineux.
It meant 12 minutes of stoppage time were played at the end of the second-half and after just two Wolves finally made the breakthrough. Traore was the creator, beating his man and holding up a deflected cross for Jimenez to leap above Myenty Abena and power home his header.
Jimenez tried his luck even later, but was denied by Greif, while Jonny and Ryan Bennett took to the field in the closing stages, in a bid to help see out the win. They did just that and Wolves now sit on nine points, five ahead of their Slovakian opponents.
Full-time: Wolves 1 Slovan Bratislava 0
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady, Kilman, Vinagre (Jonny 90), Neves, Moutinho, Traore (Bennett 90), Neto (Cutrone 69), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Vallejo, Perry, Saiss.
Bratislava: Greif, de Kamps, Sporar, Ibrahim (Daniel 90), Drazic, Abena, Medvedev, Ratao (Sukhotskiy 70), Bozhikov, Bajric, De Marco (Ljubicic 89).
Unused subs: Sulla, Trnovsky, Nono, Holman.