Torino 2-3 Wolves: Fan's Match Report
Most Wolves fans will be pinching themselves tonight in awe of a spectacular performance against a top side in Italian football. A strong and worthwhile display from Nuno’s side was cheered on by the vibrant travelling support, with goals from Diogo Jota, Raul Jimenez and an own goal by Nascimento on the stroke of halftime. Torino did however gain something out of the result, with a header from De Silvestri and a late penalty from their talisman, Andrea Belotti.
Nuno named a variation of both his go-to side and his B-team in this fixture, with Vallejo, Traore, Saiss and Vinagre coming in for Bennett, Doherty, Neves and Jonny. With the game on the weekend vs Burnley, the gaffer had to bear in mind the energy levels of his first-team squad, making this the second game out of three in the duration of 6 days.
Patricio; Vallejo, Coady, Boly; Adama, Saiss, Moutinho, Dendoncker, Vinagre; Jimenez, Jota (3-5-2)
Walter Mazzarri had a plethora of players to name, with the Serie A not commencing until this weekend. Following their 1-1 draw (1-6 on aggregate) vs Shaktar, the boss made three changes to his side, with Izzo, Baselli and Berenguar Remiro coming in for Bonifazi, Lukic and Rincon.
Sirigu; Izzo, N’Koulou, Silva Nascimento; De Silvestri, Meite, Baselli, Ansaldi; Zaza, Belotti, Berenguer Remiro (3-4-3)
The atmosphere inside the Stade Olimpico Grande was alien to what the Wolves players and fans are typically used to back in the U.K, with a constant rhythm of chanting and noise throughout the full 90 minutes of football. The notorious ‘Torino Ultras’ were more commonly known for their passionate support towards the players, as well a sense of hostility usually on derby-days.
A warm and humid evening inside this amphitheatre made for a tough and uphill battle inside the first 10 minutes, with the players adapting to the conditions as the game carried on. The first real opportunity did however come for the away side, with a burst of speed from Adama Traore as he blitzed past the hopeless Cristian Ansaldi. The Spaniard squared the ball back and into the path of Diogo Jota, whose attempt was saved by the legs of Sirigu between the sticks.
It wasn’t until the break of halftime that the ball finally hit the back of the net, but unfortunately for Silva Nascimento, the ball stroked off his head and past Sirigu into the bottom corner. A trademark Moutinho in-swinger was initially aimed for the head of Romain Saiss, but the Morrocan was beaten to the ball by the towering Torino centre-half. Not too many complaints by the Wolves players, with this moment in time being the best time to nick a goal.
A second goal for the away side followed 15 minutes after the interval, with Adama Traore again at the heart of the move, providing another assist to his tally for the season. A quick injection of pace left Ansaldi in a muddle as he chopped back onto his strong foot. A pull-back across goal gave Diogo Jota the chance to double Wolves’ advantage and net his third of the competition this season. A powerful finish by the forward gave the away team some stability in the tie with the away goal rule.
A swift reply however by the home side gave them a foothold in this game, with De Silvestri at the back post, nodding the ball into the side of the goal. Some good pressing by Torino as they won the ball from Adama Traore’s grasp, with a ball out wide to Ansaldi who had room to deliver a ball into the danger zone. A powerful back-post run by De Silvestri gave the minute Ruben Vinagre no chance of out-muscling his opposite number, with the home fans back on their feet again.
It wouldn’t be a typical away tie if Raul Jimenez wasn’t on the scoresheet, with the Mexican sensation netting his fifth goal of the competition (and scoring in every away fixture). The substituted Pedro Neto was blocked off the ball as he was making a run in-behind, but the referee played an excellent advantage, giving Jimenez the chance to drive at the Torino backline. He skipped the challenge of Izzo, darted into the box and slotted the ball into the left corner of the net, solidifying Wolves’ lead yet again in this game. Some miscommunication between N’Koulou and the keeper, as the defender backed off Raul but the Italian goalie didn’t respond by adjusting his position to narrow the angle of the shot. The away support went absolutely berserk, chanting the game of the man who wears that famous number 9 jersey.
A final breakthrough game in the dying moments of the game came via a penalty to Torino, with Ruben Vinagre swinging his leg into Belotti’s shin, resulting in the forward gaining a penalty for his side, but receiving a brutal and mistimed tackle in the process. The prolific forward netted 26 times last season and calmly took his chance from 12 yards, with Patricio unfortunately diving over the ball as he attempted to deny the forward in the final minutes.
Wolves now move onto Burnley this weekend, and are due to play Torino yet again in a week’s time, with many fans hoping that this moment never ends.
Cameron is a Wolves fan and Talking Wolves writer. You can follow him here.