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Unsung Hero: Wolves’ Joao Moutinho showing no signs of weariness as Europa League group stage beckons

Unsung Hero: Wolves’ Joao Moutinho showing no signs of weariness as Europa League group stage beckons - Wolves

Wolves secured their place in the group stage of the Europa League after last night’s 2-1 home win against Torino completed a 5-3 aggregate triumph.

Goals from Raul Jimenez and Leander Dendoncker maintained Wolves’ run of winning every qualifying match on their path to the group stage.

The home side survived a couple of early scares at Molineux before taking the lead on the half-hour mark when Jimenez showed the goal-poaching instincts of an in-form striker to get his foot to a teasing cross from Adama Traore for his seventh goal of the season. [via]

Torino raised hopes of a comeback when they equalised in the 57th minute, Andrea Belotti heading to the net from Daniele Baselli’s free kick. [via]

Within a minute, though, Wolves restored their two-goal aggregate lead. Diogo Jota bore down on Torino’s goal from midfield and, after his shot was repelled by goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, Leander Dendoncker coolly dispatched the loose ball to the net via the inside of the post. [via]

Nuno Espirito Santo made four changes to his team from that which started last weekend’s Premier League draw against Burnley. Adama Traore, Jesus Vallejo, Dendoncker and Romain Saiss all came in for the Torino game in place of Matt Doherty, Ryan Bennett, Ruben Neves and Morgan Gibbs-White.

One man who has been a near-constant presence on the field for Wolves so far this season has been midfielder Joao Moutinho. He and Conor Coady are the only two players to have started every game in 2019/20, and his 741 minutes of gametime is second only to Coady’s 810.

Even though the 32-year-old midfielder has now played nine games in 36 days, he showed no signs of fatigue or weariness against Torino last night, with some local journalists heralding his composure on the ball and leadership by example.

Express & Star writer Tim Spiers described Moutinho’s performance as “neat and tidy” and said that he “kept things simple and kept Wolves ticking along“, while adding that he completed 35 of his 37 passes for a 94.6% success rate.

For Birmingham Live, Alex Dicken awarded him an eight rating and felt that the midfielder was “back to his best” after a quiet display against Burnley last weekend.

He hailed Moutinho’s leadership qualities, writing that the Portugal international “was in the opposition’s faces from the start, snapping at their heels and screaming at his younger teammates when they put a foot wrong”. [via Birmingham Live]

Even with Wolves playing through a packed schedule already and going into battle again on Sunday when they travel to Everton, the evergreen Moutinho looks set to maintain his 100% starting record this season based on his composed, relentless performance against Torino.

Wolves fans, how vital do you think Moutinho is to the team? Share your views in the comments section below!

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Article title: Unsung Hero: Wolves’ Joao Moutinho showing no signs of weariness as Europa League group stage beckons

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