Mexican forward Raul Jimenez was celebrated by the football world after scoring his first goal for Wolves since a horrific skull fracture last year. The sensational 61st-minute solo effort was enough to beat Southampton 1-0 in Premier League Matchday 6 on Sunday.
The Mexico international suffered the injury in a November 2020 match and he was kept out of action until his return at the start of this season. The last goal scored by the 30-year-old came 336 days before against Newcastle United (October 25, 2020).
The goal against Southampton was a magnificent solo effort: The Wolves star ran on to a long pass from goalkeeper Jose Sa, beating Southampton defender Jan Bednarek in a physical tussle to get the ball.
He then cut in to evade the tackle of Mohammed Salisu and dragged the ball back, sending Bednarek sliding past him, before side-footing it past goalkeeper Alex McCarthy. The goal was his 35th in the Premier League for Wolves (video below).
336 – Raúl Jiménez has scored his first Premier League goal in 336 days, since netting against Newcastle in October 2020 – this was his 15th attempt in the competition this season. Breakthrough. pic.twitter.com/KlcnKT8bhp
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 26, 2021
The traveling Wolves fans were very much aware of what the moment represented for the player and club, and they serenaded Jimenez after the match as his goal held up as the game-winner.
El cántico de los aficionados de Wolves para Raúl Jiménez al terminar el partido que ganaron con su regreso al gol
🎶 Si señor, give the ball to Raúl and he will score 🎶 pic.twitter.com/RHZQNJOKMt
— tupadre (@___tupadre) September 26, 2021
After the game, Jimenez told Sky Sports: “I want to score every game, I knew the goal was coming, I was fighting for it, working for it and all the team deserve it.
“I was thinking ‘When will the goal come?’ It felt really good. Four of our five games have been incredible, we need to keep going like this. We did a really good job.
“The fans are always with us, supporting. It is really important for our team to have them supporting and shouting.”
Hours later Jimenez took to Twitter to share his thoughts: “I’m not the only one celebrating this goal. My family celebrates it, all my teammates, doctors, physios and all those who always supported me and never doubted that I’d come back stronger. This is the path forward and now to keep working and go for more.”
Este gol no lo celebro solo yo, lo celebramos mi familia, todos mis compañeros, los doctores, fisios, y toda la gente que siempre me ha apoyado y nunca dudó que regresaría mas fuerte. Este es el camino y a seguir trabajando para ir por más. pic.twitter.com/d9twCmmLPk
— Raúl Jiménez (@Raul_Jimenez9) September 26, 2021
The former Benfica star played the full 90 minutes in all six of his side’s Premier League matches this term. Despite his inability to find the net in their first five games, Wolves coach Bruno Lage tipped him to break through ahead of Sunday’s encounter.
He told reporters on Friday: “Every day he’s working hard in training to try and score goals. He knows he has that pressure on his shoulders, but for now the analysis I did with him, the way he’s creating chances, he needs to continue to work. He knows he needs to score goals, our fans are waiting for him to score goals, he scored goals in preseason, and they are coming.”
There was no guarantee he’d ever be in this position again after the skull fracture he suffered against Arsenal in November 2020. Months after his injury, he confessed there was a chance that his playing career was over, though he was convinced he’d do everything he could to get back. Jimenez and his partner Daniela Basso gave a powerful interview to the New York Times, sharing details of the ordeal and he sat down with Sky Sports before the start of the Premier League season:
It was a momentous occasion and the football world reacted accordingly, from England to Mexico:
Great to see Raul Jimenez back on the scoresheet after his horrific injury. 🙌🏻
— Gary Lineker 💙 (@GaryLineker) September 26, 2021
There can’t be many neutrals who aren’t over the moon for Raul Jimenez there.
He must have wondered if he’d ever get back on the pitch at one point, let alone scoring in the Premier League again.
— HLTCO (@HLTCO) September 26, 2021
Excelente lo de Raúl Jiménez. Un gol y el triunfo de su equipo después de tanto luchar…Gana en confianza. Pronto volverá al sitio que tenía antes de la lesión…
— David Faitelson (@Faitelson_ESPN) September 26, 2021
(Translation: Excellent by Raul Jimenez: A goal and a win for his team after battling so much … He will gain confidence. Soon he’ll be back to where he was before the injury.)
Happy for Raúl Jiménez, he needed that goal to restore his confidence, superb composure, physicality and finish to get past Jan Bednarek and finish.
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) September 26, 2021
(Translation: He’s back: Raúl Jiménez reacquaints himself with the thing he does best: the goal. A lot of character and hard work behind that scream: an 11-month wait. Wolverhampton and México smiling for their goal scorer.)
Raul Jimenez for Wolves against Southampton:
◉ Most duels won (12)
◉ Most aerial duels won (4)
◉ =Most take-ons completed (3)
◉ Most fouls won (3)
◉ Most shots (2)
◉ Most shots on target (2)
◉ =Most chances created (1)
And he scored his first goal since October 2020. pic.twitter.com/m1i2hOxmVj
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 26, 2021
El gol de Raúl Jiménez vs Southampton de hoy tiene todo:
Calidad, empuje, determinación y huevos.
Ojalá sea el primero de muchos post lesión para el mexicano.
— Raoul Ortiz (@RaoulPolloOrtiz) September 26, 2021
(Translation: The goal by Raul Jimenez vs. Southampton has it all: Quality, drive, determination and guts. Hopefully it’s the first of many post-injury for the Mexican.)
🐺❤️ What a moment for Raul Jimenez!