Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo celebrated signing a new three-year contract with three Premier League points as his side made a winning start to the campaign against Sheffield United.
The Portuguese, who guided Wanderers to a seventh-placed finish last season and the Europa League quarter-finals, has committed himself to the club until 2023 and he will have been pleased with what he saw at Bramall Lane on Monday night.
It took Wolves until the seventh match to record their first league win last season as they tried to juggle the demands of playing in European qualifying games but this time round a 2-0 victory saw them off the mark at the first time of asking.
Nuno’s team were quick out of the blocks and 2-0 up after only six minutes. The first goal came in the third minute when Daniel Podence skipped away from John Lundstram’s sliding challenge wide on the left. His low cross into the penalty area was expertly steered home by Raul Jimenez from 12 yards out.
Jimenez, who scored 27 goals in all competitions last season, was involved again as Wolves quickly doubled their lead, although this time Aaron Ramsdale made a good save to push his effort over the crossbar. From Pedro Neto’s resulting corner, Romain Saiss headed home.
While Wolves were dynamic, fluid and enterprising in attack, especially during the first half, the Blades were totally out of sorts by contrast.
Uncharacteristic mistakes and a slack start ultimately cost Chris Wilder’s team, making it an uphill struggle from the start, but the Blades also looked laboured and predictable going forward in the first half.
Jimenez was a constant danger with his movement and he dropped deep midway through the first half and curled a left-foot effort just past the top corner.
It was not until the final 10 minutes of the first half that Rui Patricio was worked for the first time. A sliced cross by Chris Basham needed to be helped over the crossbar by the Portuguese goalkeeper before Oli McBurnie sent a header straight at him.
Wilder’s side improved at the start of the second half and had two good chances. Enda Stevens latched on to McBurnie’s flick-on and got in behind Adama Traore but he was unable to keep his shot down from a tight angle.
Shortly afterwards, again down the Wolves right, Lundstram linked up with John Fleck who saw his shot strike the foot of the far post, before George Baldock’s follow-up was deflected wide.
It was encouraging for the hosts but their first-half defensive issues remained and Saiss was a whisker away from heading a second goal from another corner after 53 minutes.
The Blades continued to try to put their opponents under pressure but often the final ball was lacking.
Wolves’ attacks had become less frequent but they were still a threat on the break. Saiss should have put the game to bed midway through the second half but Ramsdale made a fine save to tip the ball on to a post, with Jimenez poking the rebound wide.
Traore put an effort wide and saw another shot blocked before the hosts’ uncharacteristic frailties from set-pieces was exposed again after 83 minutes as Jimenez struck the outside of a post with a glancing header.
John Egan, the injury-time match-winner in this fixture last season in July, was unable to repeat those heroics as he headed wide from a corner, before McBurnie saw his header cleared off the line by Saiss in added time.