Portugal midfielder Rúben Neves scored with a trademark long-range shot to put Nuno Espírito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers into the next round of the FA Cup at the expense of Liverpool.

Diogo Jota returned to action for Wolves and also made important contributions in the final match of the competition’s third round, as Nuno’s side emerged with a 2-1 victory thanks to goals from former Benfica striker Raul Jimenez and ex-Porto man Neves.

“It was a good performance in a tough game,” Nuno said after the match. “We were compact, we were organised. We had good counter attacks, good possession. In general it was a very good game.”

Diogo Jota returned to the Wolves line-up after three weeks out with a hamstring injury, and the former Porto attacker played a key role in Wolves opening the scoring on 38 minutes after much of the first half had passed with little incident. Jota robbed possession from James Milner in his own half and fed the ball forward to Mexican striker Jimenez, who benefited from Jota’s blocking off of the recovering Milner to advance and finish past Simon Mignolet.

Reaction was important - Nuno

Liverpool were back level early in the second half thanks to Divock Origi, but Neves restored Wolves’ advantage just a few minutes later with a superb shot from well outside the area after receiving the ball from Rúben Vinagre. Nuno admitted that the response to the equaliser was crucial for the home side: “Important was the way we reacted immediately, the first moment that the ball goes up, we reacted and went again, because we know we were punished.

“It’s something that Rúben does and we encourage him to do. Last season we saw it pretty often and we know he has this talent. It was a good strike, something he has to do and to improve. We are happy for him.”

For his part, Neves joked that the ball used in the FA Cup should be adopted elsewhere. “I have a proposal for the Premier League: they should change the ball to mitre!

“It was a very good game for us. We showed we are a great group and can achieve things.”

Wolves, who had João Moutinho in the side alongside Neves and Vinagre and also introduced Ivan Cavaleiro and Hélder Costa in the second half, were rewarded for the victory with a trip to Shrewsbury or Stoke City in the Fourth Round of the competition. Elsewhere in the draw, Marco Silva’s Everton will head to South London to play Millwall.

By Sean Gillen

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“After the final whistle, I saw what I most wanted to see - the joy of our fans and our players.”

Bruno Lage
(Benfica coach after title-clinching victory against Santa Clara)