Wolves’ impressive pre-season performances continued in Alicante as the side in gold and black put three past Turkish giants Besiktas in another beneficial friendly fixture.
With two weeks to go until the 2022/23 Premier League season gets underway, Wolves stepped up their preparations for the campaign with many of the players lasting 85 minutes in the Spanish sun, as first-half goals from Raul Jimenez, Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto earned their side the victory.
In contrast to Wednesday evening’s dominant display over Deportivo Alaves, Wolves were on the backfoot from the start against Besiktas.
The Turkish outfit had the best of the early opportunities, with two falling to the feet of on-loan Burnley forward Wout Weghorst. Fortunately for Wolves, the Dutchman was unable to turn the ball goalbound.
However, it took an outstanding save from Wolves Academy graduate Jackson Smith to deny Besiktas from taking the lead, as a free-kick from distance appeared to have wrong footed the goalkeeper, but he was able to reach the ball at full stretch with his fingertips to turn the effort past the upright.
From similar distance, Wolves a chance to open the scoring, as Ruben Neves stepped up from long-range with a set-piece, and his bouncing effort was only parried back into the penalty area by Besiktas keeper Ersin Destanoglu, but Jimenez was unable to find the target on the rebound.
Jimenez wasn’t to be denied moments later from another Ersin error between the sticks for Besiktas. A back pass was mis-hit by the Turkish keeper, and the Mexican pounced, turning the ball into an empty net.
A free-kick almost led to another goal, this time for Besiktas. Rachid Ghezzal lined the ball up just 20 yards out from goal, and although he was able to get the ball up and over the wall, he couldn’t squeeze it underneath the crossbar, and although he had Smith scrambling, the keeper was happy to see the ball miss narrowly over the woodwork. Straight up the other end, Podence pulled an impressive stop from Ersin with a powerful effort from close-range.
There was nothing Ersin could do to stop Podence moments later. Rayan Ait-Nouri produced an outstanding bit of skill down the left to race past his marker, before picking out Podence on the edge of the box who then hammered a shot past the keeper.
Wolves suffered a blow before the break as Jimenez, who was receiving treatment during the water break, had to come off the field with an injury and without another striker on the bench, Bruno Lage turned to Leander Dendoncker to shore up the midfield, with Podence slotting into the front three.
Moments after Nathan Collins came close to his first goal in a goal shirt, Wolves did make it three as the high press caused disruption in the Besiktas defence, allowing Neto to reach a ball slotted in between the lines before it reached Ersin, and the winger used his tricky feet to skip past the keeper and turn the ball into the net.
Half-time | Wolves 3-0 Besiktas
Wolves continued with attacking intent following the break, with a quick counter-attack move seeing the ball land at the feet of Podence at the edge of the penalty area, and he struck a sweet strike which was heading goalwards, but Ersin was able to push the ball away. Moments later, Maximilian Kilman got highest in the box from a Joao Moutinho cross, but he was unable to trouble the keeper from with his header.
The crossbar denied Wolves what would have been a brilliant fourth goal just before the hour mark when another high press saw Lage’s men win the ball back in attack, and after neat one touch passing, Dendoncker headed the ball into the path of Morgan Gibbs-White 12 yards out from goal, but his volley cannoned back off the woodwork after beating Besiktas’ back-up keeper Emre Bilgin.
As has now become tradition in Wolves’ pre-season matches in Spain so far, the tempo of the games slowed in the second period as the conditions began to take their toll on the players, but Wolves were still keeping Besiktas at arm’s length while producing some intricate moves of their own thanks to quick one-touch passing.
With five minutes of the game remaining, Lage made changes to the remainder of the starting 11, giving a run out to many of the under-21s who have made the trip to Spain, but the young side gave a professional showing to see out the contest.
Full-time | Wolves 3-0 Besiktas
Wolves | Smith, Jonny (Lembikisa 86), Collins (Mosquera 86), Kilman (Coady 64), Ait-Nouri (Bueno 86), Neves (Griffiths 86), Moutinho (Ronan 86), Gibbs-White (Corbeanu 86), Podence (Hodge 86), Jimenez (Dendoncker 35), Neto (Cundle 77).
Unused subs | Storer, Boly.
Besiktas | Ersin, Rosier, Welinton, Necip, Boyd, Salih, Gedson, Umut, Ghezzal, Muleka, Weghorst.
Subs | Emre, Nkoudou, Cenk, Oguzhan, Ilkhan, Hasic, Delibas, Berkay, Emrecan, Yilmaz, Cisse.