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Pre-season: Basel 1 Wolves 2 – Report and pictures

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Wolves kicked off their pre-season with a victory after coming from behind to beat Basel 2-1.

The Swiss Champions League regulars opened the scoring through a header from former Norwich striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

But Wolves, who played different teams in each half, equalised when Rafa Mir volleyed home Ivan Cavaleiro's corner for the second string XI.

And early in the second half Diogo Jota struck the winner when he found the net after good work from Matt Doherty.

Analysis

After May's surprise 3-0 defeat to Sunderland, Nuno called for his team to bounce back in their next game.

It may have only been a friendly but Wolves did just that against prestigious opposition in Basel, writes Tim Spiers at the Tissot Arena.

Basel are ahead of Wolves in their pre-season preparations, with games in the Swiss top flight and Champions League qualifier matches to play before July is over.

Wolves deservedly beat them here, though, with a tidy and organised performance which contained the odd moment of quality.

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Uhrencup: Wolves 2 Basel 1 - Fans reaction

As at the start of last pre-season Nuno fielded a different team in each half – clearly split into first and second string sides.

There were positives to come from both, not least some sprightly displays from youngsters Ryan Giles and Elliot Watt in their first senior appearances for the club.

There was extra quality on show from the senior XI in the second half; they enjoyed plenty of possession and moved the ball with the assurance you'd expect, but Nuno will probably have wanted them to carve out a few more chance.

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All in all though it's all about fitness at this stage of the season and Wolves appeared to stay injury-free.

They'll now fancy their chances of beating Young Boys on Saturday and winning some pre-season silverware. That winning habit is a very nice one indeed.

Match report

A youthful second string kicked off with a number of players looking to make an impression, particularly the younger members of the side who were getting their first taste of senior action.

It was Basel who made the better start though with John Ruddy pushing a shot wide from Valentin Stocker before ex-Norwich City striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel netted a rare goal against English opposition (he scored one in 25 in the Premier League for the Canaries) when glancing home a left wing free kick.

Wolves responded well and in a theme of the half their threat came from out wide.

Ivan Cavaleiro's quality was there for all to see and he produced some lovely footwork before sending the ball across the face of goal.

Then the lively Ryan Giles forced a corner after being picked out by Elliot Watt and from that Wolves equalised in the 17th minute when Cavaleiro's deep corner was volleyed into the roof of the net from close range by Rafa Mir.

The team were keeping their shape well with Ruddy constantly barking orders. Watt was very busy in midfield and Cavaleiro provided the quality.

Big things are expected of technically gifted young Portuguese midfielder Pedro Goncalves and after his dink into the box was just over Mir's head, the 20-year-old Portugal Under-20 international whistled a 30-yarder over the bar.

Uhrencup: Wolves 2 Basel 1 - Tim Spiers and Nathan Judah analysis

Watt regularly got joy with a lofted ball to the overlapping Giles down the left and the ex-Telford winger saw a couple of promising runs or crosses snuffed out.

Cavaleiro turned Oskar Buur Rasmussen's cross over the bar after finding the wing back with a searching pass, while at the other end Wolves were indebted to Kortney Hause for a goal-saving block shortly before half time.

That was that for a fairly entertaining half with some promising moments, played out at a stadium around one third full which was occasionally filled with the sounds of worse-for-wear Wolves supporters singing England songs.

It was all change for the second half as the first choice team entered the fold.

After Leo Bonatini and Basel's Albian Ajeti exchanged chances Wolves took the lead with a well-worked move. Helder Costa moved it wide to Matt Doherty, he beat a player a drew the keeper before squaring to Diogo Jota who finished it off.

There was then a big lull in terms of goalmouth action as the tempo noticeably dropped.

Wolves saw plenty of the ball, in particular Costa who will have wanted to do better when he fired a 20-yarder over the bar after running from deep.

Doherty picked out Bonatini from the right and the Brazilian's promising effort was blocked, before Costa teed up Morgan Gibbs-White whose side-footed effort from the edge of the area was easily saved.

It would have finished 2-2 were it not for a superb sliding goal-line clearance from Willy Boly after Afimico Pululu rounded Will Norris and side-footed towards goal.

Teams

Basel: Omlin, Frei, Zuffi, Stocker, Suchy, Serey, Riveros, Kalulu, Petretta, Bua, Van Volfswinkel.

Goals: Van Wolswinkel (9)

Wolves first half (3-4-3): Ruddy; Batth (c), Hause, John; Rasmussen, Goncalves, Watt, Giles; Mir, Benny-Seal, Cavaleiro.

Wolves second half (3-4-3): Norris; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Neves, Gibbs-White, Douglas; Costa, Bonatini, Jota.

Goals: Mir (17), Jota (51)

Attendance: 1,724

Next up

Young Boys (Neufeld Stadium in Bern, 2pm BST Saturday July 14)

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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