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Wolves progress in Europe as Jimenez's double downs Crusaders

The Premier League side were comfortable winners tonight and on aggregate.

Jimenez celebrates Wolves' third goal.
Jimenez celebrates Wolves' third goal.
Image: Inpho

RAUL JIMENEZ MARKED his first Wolves start of the season with a brilliant brace in a 4-1 win at Crusaders to seal the Premier League side’s Europa League progression.

Leading 2-0 from the first leg of their second qualifying round tie, Wolves were briefly given a scare as Ryan Bennett put through his own net after 13 minutes in Northern Ireland.

But Jimenez, limited to a substitute appearance last time out, came to the fore with a swift riposte and then Bennett made amends to put Wolves in front on the night.

Jimenez scored 17 times in all competitions last term and soon doubled his tally for the new campaign, although an apparent knock in the second half forced his withdrawal and put a slight dampener on proceedings.

Wolves will hope to have the former Benfica star back for the next stage as they take on Pyunik, their triumph sealed with a Jordan Forsythe own goal to make it 6-1 on aggregate.

Crusaders, chasing the tie, had started brightly and saw recalled record goalscorer Jordan Owens go close, before Bennett crashed a teasing centre into the top-right corner of his own goal.

But Wolves had their own talismanic forward back in the line-up and the first setback of their campaign was followed by a clinical Jimenez strike, turning to fire past a flat-footed Sean O’Neill.

Buoyed by the crucial away goal, the visitors took control and Bennett scored at the right end, unmarked in the area from a corner to head high into the net.

Wolves and Jimenez were now in full flow and the Mexico international linked up with Diogo Jota on the edge of the Crusaders area with some neat footwork before thrashing in his second and the team’s third.

There was less fluidity to the second period and, after Jimenez hobbled off, Jota took issue with a rugged Billy Joe Burns challenge, with Wolves removing the Portuguese, too, prior to Forsythe’s misdirected header.

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