Wolves 0 Braga 1: Ruben Neves comes close to late equaliser but Horta goal proves difference


WITH friends like this, who needs enemies?

Wolves midfield ace Ruben Neves singled out his best mate Ricardo Horta for praise on the eve of Wolves’ first ever Europa League Group game.

Ruben Neves came close with his injury-time strike but it was not good enough for an equaliserCredit: EPA

However the little midfielder was made to squirm as his Portuguese international teammate and good pal lived up to his billing to put Wolves to the sword.

Ricardo nabbed the only goal of the game, with 19 minutes remaining, his fifth in four games in the competition, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s men stumbled to their latest defeat, their third on the spin.

Neves had promised his buddy he would bid him Bon Voyage and keep all three points in England – however it was the deadly Braga midfielder with the eye for goal who headed home with some welcome extra baggage!

Wolves only had themselves to blame as comeback defender Ryan Bennett had Wolves fans muttering Gordon Bennett after a monumental howler!

The big stopper surged up the right flank as Wolves pushed forward looking for a breakthrough – which duly arrived at the wrong end!

Bennett carelessly ran into trouble as speedy winger Galeno sacked him in his own half, before haring off at speed.

Wolves defenders frantically tried to regain their shape but the Samba speedster picked his moment perfectly, squaring for Horta to smack a low shot past Rui Patricio at his near post.

That goal sparked wild celebrations from the Portuguese bench who felt they had been denied a couple of penalties.

Horta celebrates his winner at MolineuxCredit: EPA

Braga’s madcap boss Sa Pinto went wild with rage after 31 minutes and booted his drink bottle away after Conor Coady laid a hand on Galeno who tumbled theatrically.

It was never a penalty, and Nuno Sequiera was booked for a similar bit of gamesmanship after the break.

Sadly Nuno’s boys lacked the bottle they needed to raise their game from their league form, where they now languish in 19th.

Nine different Wolves players had chipped in an impressive 19 goals in six qualifying games to reach the Group stages.

But it soon became apparent the Premier strugglers would be grateful for just one solitary moment of magic against Sa Pinto’s experienced Euro campaigners.

Despite taking care of Italian aces Torino last time out, Braga represented another step up in experience at this level for Wolves.

The Portuguese side were beaten finalists in Dublin in 2011 and in eight previous appearances in the group phase they had only failed to progress once.

Molineux staged its usual light and laser show at the start but the razzle dazzle soon faded.

Wolves best chance came just before half-time and fell to Patrick Cutrone.

The £16million signing from AC Milan worked himself into the ground and had the Wolves fans eating out of his hand for his effort and energy.

However the Italian failed to find the composure needed to apply the final finishing touch Wolves desperately needed when Matt Doherty sent him clear and slashed his shot wide.

Unfortunately Ricardo showed him how it should be done – ouch, that’s gotta Horta!

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