Willy Boly struck a stoppage time winner as Wolves secured a first Europa League win of the season against Besiktas.
The hosts were aiming to bounce back from their late collapse against Slovan Bratislava on matchday one amid a bad run of domestic form.
Wolves, meanwhile, were looking to build on their first Premier League victory of the season against Watford.
Here are three winners and three losers.
Winner: Willy Boly
If not for Willy Boly, we might be talking about a second straight Wolves defeat in Europe instead of their first win. From start to finish, the centre-back was fully focused in the task at hand: leaving Turkey with a clean sheet.
Whenever Besiktas did find their way into Wolves’ penalty area, it was Boly who would take charge of proceedings and get the visitors out of trouble. He was dominant in the air and his positioning was always on point.
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) October 3, 2019
Most importantly, of course, Boly bagged the winner deep into stoppage time. He took it like a striker, sweeping the ball past Loris Karius with his left foot to send the visiting fans to dreamland.
That the Frenchman provided Wolves’ biggest goal threat was indicative of the lack of quality on show in attacking areas from both sides on the night. But nobody in that away end will care.
Loser: Raul Jimenez
Raul Jimenez was a victim of the lack of creativity here. Whenever he did get into good positions, he wasn’t found as Wolves’ midfield failed to provide any kind of accuracy or guile.
After being the key man in front of goal in the qualifying campaign, Jimenez has now drawn a blank against Braga and Besiktas. And the most frustrating part of that will be the fact he was given no service to score his first group stage goal for Wolves.
Regardless of the creative dearth, Jimenez may be blamed by some for failing to carve any opportunities out for himself. In that sense, he’ll be thanking Boly for taking Wolves’ best chance.
Winner: Mohamed Elneny
Wolves inability to have any take control of this game – at least until the latter stages – could be put down to Mohamed Elneny’s influence in front of the Besiktas back four.
Elneny is on loan in Turkey from Arsenal and will be aiming to prove Unai Emery wrong for letting him go. And while he is arguably not quite good enough for a place in the Arsenal squad, he showed here that he remains a very capable holding midfielder at Europa League level.
The Egyptian attempted (99) and completed (91) more passes than any other player on the pitch, functioning as Besiktas’ metronome during their best spells of possession.
What’s more, Elneny made five ball recoveries, two interceptions and was successful with both of his tackles, which meant Wolves were unable to find a way through Besiktas centrally at any point. He certainly played his part in keeping the opposition out until late on and can’t be blamed for the hosts’ bluntness up front.
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Loser: Abdullah Avci
Going into this game, Besiktas were without a win or a clean sheet in five matches, three of which were defeats. The Turkish giants surprisingly find themselves in the Super Lig relegation zone having recorded just one league victory from six outings.
All of which has put early pressure on manager Abdullah Avci. That pressure mounted last week when club chairman Fikret Orman left the club.
Whoever replaces Orman as the decision-maker at Besiktas will be looking for reasons to keep Avci on, and a first clean sheet in five might have been a positive sign before Wolves’ late sucker-punch. This was an opportunity for the team to record a much needed victory in front of their own fans – and they failed.
The players were perhaps responding to the raucous crown a little too emotionally, answering the calls from the stands to drive forward when sometimes a bit of composure was needed. It’s a difficult balance to strike when a win is required, but Besiktas – and Avci especially – will be rueing yet another loss.
Winner: Nuno Espirito Santo
On the other end of the spectrum, Nuno Espirito Santo will be delighted having finally shaken any of the pressure on his job away following two consecutive victories – and two straight clean sheets.
Wolves’ poor start to the season was likely a result of playing so many qualifiers instead of easing into the campaign with a normal routine. But Nuno will be happy his players look something close to themselves again.
Wolves came to Besiktas!
— Wolves (@Wolves) October 3, 2019
Regardless of what he has done for the club since coming in, a long winless run is often bad news for any manager, so the sense of relief the Portuguese will have been feeling after the weekend win over Watford will have just been doubled.
Loser: Pedro Neto
One Wolves player who might not be totally happy with his night’s work is Pedro Neto. The winger really struggled down the left in the first half before being substituted at the break.
His performance was summed up when he collected the ball on the flank and failed to look up to where Jimenez was in acres of space in the middle. It was a moment that probably played a part in Nuno’s decision to hook the teenager at half-time.
At just 19, Neto has plenty of time to develop. But he must start taking his chances to impress if he wants to stay in the team.