Raul Jimenez sustained his luminous form by scoring an exquisite brace to lead Wolverhampton Wonderers to a convincing 3-0 win against West Ham United on Tuesday.
Molineux witnessed Wolves’ heaviest victory over The Hammers since August 1972 and climbed into seventh place. This is currently their strongest performance in the top-flight since 1979/80 when they subsequently finished in sixth position in the First Division.
Nuno Espirito Santo has implemented a modernized system compared to the other newly-promoted clubs Cardiff City and Fulham. He’s also acquired players physically and technically capable of executing his demanding style of play.
Wolves pulled off a number of eminent signings during the summer transfer window. Euro 2016 winning duo Rui Patricio and Joao Moutinho joined from Sporting CP and AS Monaco respectively. But the signing of Mexican international Raul Jimenez was a transfer relatively overlooked by football fanatics outside of Wolves’ fan base.
A European Adventure with Conflicting Emotions
The 27-year-old has battled with regression since venturing from his native Mexico into the cruel environment of European football. Jimenez was somewhat of a prodigy in Liga MX, scoring 39 goals during his four seasons at Club America.
Jimenez was also quickly becoming recognized across Mexico. He played a cameo role in helping Mexico win gold at London 2012 and further enhanced his reputation by scoring two goals during the 2013 CONCACAF Cup.
His performances had been monitored by numerous European clubs and Jimenez signed for defending Spanish La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in 2014. Los Rojiblancos had also just reached their first UEFA Champions League/European Cup final since 1974, but the magnitude of the challenge proved too problematic for Jimenez.
An underwhelming season in the capital of Spain concluded with just one goal in 27 appearances, but Jimenez was still showcasing his quality at international level. Although Mexico tumbled out of the 2015 Copa America at the group phase, Jimenez restored his confidence with two goals during the tournament.
Benfica offered him a lifeline once Jimenez returned from international duty and he reached double figures for the first time since his final season in the Liga MX. He finished his three seasons in Portugal with 2 Primeira Liga titles and 1 Taca de Portugal (the Portuguese equivalent of the FA Cup).
But there was still sense of dissatisfaction amongst Benfica supporters. His ability to make an impact across the final third was recognized in Lisbon, but his goal scoring record left very little to be desired.
The Renaissance in Wolverhampton