Wolves kicked off their double header in the Algarve with a 1-1 draw against Sporting CP. Ruben Neves gave Wolves the lead from the penalty spot, before former Wolves man Pedro Goncalves levelled for the Portuguese side. In a display that showcased free-flowing football and direct counterattacks, supporters can be excited for next weekends Premier League opener at Elland Road.
In his first appearance since May, Sa can be pleased with his performance. A quiet start, only tested by the penalty, he made an impressive save in the second half to keep the score locked at 1-1. His confidence on the ball cannot be underestimated in Lage’s new system, offering himself to both centre halves when in possession.
Jonny’s defensive ability is there for all to see, rarely letting anybody past him. His positional awareness both with and without the ball was impressive, with his attacking runs in the first half causing issues for the Sporting back line. A full 90 minutes will fill the full back with confidence heading into the new season.
A second start for Wolves’ only summer signing, Collins was in the thick of the action. The Irishman was at fault for Sporting’s penalty, desperately lunging at the feet of striker Paulinho. He recovered well in defence, putting in some strong headed clearances, as well as showing maturity when in possession.
If Lage does utilise the same 11 at Elland Road, Kilman has become Wolves’ senior centre half. The 25-year-old put in another good display, rarely challenged by Paulinho. A repeat of Kilman’s wondergoal against Deportivo Alaves seemed to be on the cards, before releasing the ball on the halfway line. He was substituted with 10 minutes to go after suffering with cramp.
Rayan Ait Nouri
Ait Nouri’s forward runs are becoming a trademark of his game. The Frenchman showed his ability on the ball once more, driving down the left hand side on multiple occasions. He was at the heart of some strong build-up play in the first half, linking well with Kilman and the three midfielders.
Taking the armband once more, Neves certainly put in a captain’s performance. He stepped up confidently to score his penalty, while displaying his dominance on the ball when building from the back. Breaking up Sporting attacks were also a key feature in what was another quality outing from the Portuguese maestro.
Moutinho put in another good performance against his former side, with short passes the key to his game. Often the middle man in transition, Moutinho attempted to move play along at a higher tempo than what we have become used to seeing over previous years.
A vicious strike early in the game tested the palms of Israel, arriving late into the box at the far post. Not as involved as his midfield partners, Dendoncker did provide good physicality in the middle of the park. His forward runs may be crucial to a Wolves side lacking height in attack.
The England Under 21 international has been full of promise in pre-season, with today being no different. He may feel aggrieved that Pedro Neto failed to square the ball in the second half, but the willingness to break at speed is something that supporters will only admire. Gibbs-White was also substituted with 10 minutes to go.
In a feisty affair against his former employers, Podence seemed keen to make an impact. His one-touch football in the final third caused issues for Sporting, with defenders often chasing shadows. Filling in for Raul Jimenez, Podence started the game as a false nine, but was interchanging with Neto and Gibbs-White throughout.
Neto’s promising pre-season performances continued today. The winger won Wolves’ penalty in the first half, drawing in a challenge from Matheus Reis. There were glimpses of Neto’s impressive 2021 form, running at defenders before quickly moving the ball onto his left foot and unleashing a strike at goal. He will arguably be the key man for Wolves’ in Raul’s absence.
Hee Chan Hwang
Similarly to Sa, Hwang made his first performance of pre-season. Replacing Neto after 66 minutes, Hwang was deployed on the left of a front three. He found himself through on goal in the latter stages of the game, rounding the keeper before having his shot cleared off the line. It was a chance that he would have expected to bury.
Some neat footwork in the middle of the park was the highlight for Campbell, who did not have a great deal of time to show his talent. The 19-year-old will be hoping for some more minutes in tomorrow’s final pre-season friendly against Farense.
Coady replaced Kilman with little time left in the game, slotting into the back four. A sloppy pass out from the back almost allowed Sporting in on goal, before recovering and conceding a corner.
Coming onto the pitch with just two minutes left, Hugo Bueno had no time to make an impact on the game.
Other subs: Jackson Smith, Yerson Mosquera, Willy Boly, Toti Gomes, Luke Cundle, Connor Ronan, Joe Hodge, Harvey Griffiths