Wolves striker Raul Jimenez showed with his performance against Southampton that he is getting back to the kind of form he was in before a fractured skull in November 2020 threatened his career.
Jimenez suffered severe trauma that night and was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. He will also have to wear a protective head guard for the rest of his career, but his performance at St Mary’s on Sunday suggests there is no reason to think he won’t return to his best in due course.
The Mexico international missed the remainder of last season after the incident and has returned to action at the start of 2021/22. He had played 90 minutes in all five of Wolves’ Premier League games prior to kick off, crucially building up his fitness and confidence.
It had been a challenging start for Wolves with three successive 1-0 defeats, despite creating plenty of chances. Jimenez didn’t get on the scoresheet in a victory over Watford, before Brentford then inflicted a fourth defeat in five on Bruno Lage’s team.
But, rolling back the months, Jimenez was the difference against Southampton.
He threatened in the first half in a game of relatively few actual chances, although it appeared in those moments that he was still feeling his way back in – only natural after such a long time out and only a handful of games under his belt since.
But the winning goal when it came was a fine example of a striker hungry for goals.
Jimenez raced onto an intelligent long ball from goalkeeper Jose Sa and outmuscled Southampton defender Jan Bednarek to gain control of the ball. He jinked inside to beat Mohammed Salisu, before selling Bednarek a dummy and coolly finishing beyond a helpless Alex McCarthy.
A similar situation also presented itself late on that could have sealed Wolves’ win, with Jimenez outfoxing Oriol Romeu. This time, his attempt to square it across the box was blocked.
Jimenez scored 30 Premier League goals across his first two seasons with Wolves and had another four to his name before his horror head injury last season. Now, he has his 35th and Wolves fans can be confident there will be many more to come.