Julen Lopetegui stumbles on his first win as Wolves coach against the bottom of the Football League in the Carabao Cup

JULEN LOPETEGUI had a successful start to Wolves’ reign – but needed two late goals to spare his blush.

Bottom of League Two, Gillingham frustrated the Premier League hosts until the 77th minute – when Sub Raul Jimenez came to the rescue.

New Molineux boss Julen Lopetegui was animated for big spells until Wolves scored twice to sink the gills in the final 13 minutes

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New Molineux boss Julen Lopetegui was animated for big spells until Wolves scored twice to sink the gills in the final 13 minutesPhoto credit: Getty
Left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri celebrates Wolves' victory with his second home goal against second division bottom Gillingham

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Left-back Rayan Ait-Nouri celebrates Wolves’ victory with his second home goal against second division bottom GillinghamCredit: PA
Rayan Ait-Nouri scores home in added time at Molineux

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Rayan Ait-Nouri scores home in added time at MolineuxPhoto credit: AFP

The forward hadn’t played for Wolves since August due to a groin injury.

But he was at the World Cup with Mexico – and needed just eight minutes to mark his return with a goal that calmed Molineux’s nerves.

Gills defender Cheye Alexander was reported to have pulled Hwang Hee-chan back on a corner and referee Michael Salisbury pointed to the spot.

Hitman Jimenez coolly scored the penalty.

It was tough for the Kent visitors who had beaten Brentford in the previous round.

But Wolves sealed the tie and a place in the quarters with a second in added time when Hwang set up substitute Rayan Ait-Nouri.

Lopetegui got the job with the Wolves more than six weeks ago, but he only officially began his reign at the beginning of the World Cup break.

He chose a strong side in the Spaniard’s first team selection – but it was a game of sheer frustration for Wolves.

Mexican striker Raul Jimenez scores the first penalty for Julen Lopetegui's new team in the 77th minute

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Mexican striker Raul Jimenez scores the first penalty for Julen Lopetegui’s new team in the 77th minutePhoto credit: AFP

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Midfielder Ruben Neves, returning from the World Cup with Portugal, came close with a 20-metre free-kick and Goncalo Guedes crossed three minutes from half-time for Joe Hodge, who headed wide.

Neves then hit the post from the edge of the box. But there was a turbulent period after the break, with Wolves fans getting on their team’s backs before eventually gaining the upper hand.

Lopetegui has been given a worrying christening – but the real tests are ahead in the Premier League.

Elsewhere in the Cup, Newcastle, Leicester and Leicester have given the Prem clubs a clean win against sides from the lower leagues.

Adam Smith headed the only goal past his own Bournemouth keeper at St James’ Park after Toon, England right-back Kieran Trippier delivered a brilliant cross.

The Foxes had it easy, Youri Tielemans and Ayoze Perez putting them under control at MK Dons before Jamie Vardy nodded home with a 3-0 win early in the second period.

And Nathan Jones celebrated his first win as boss of the Saints – after surviving a scare at home against League One Lincoln.

Southampton keeper Gavin Bazunu crashed with an own goal in the second minute after a miscleared by Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

But Che Adams struck in the 25th and 74th minutes as the Saints won 2-1 and scored more than once for the only time since beating Chelsea on August 30.

  • WOLVES are expected to sign £40million-rated Brazilian striker Matheus Cunha from Atletico Madrid – while Lopetegui begins his rebuild in January.
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Cunha, 23, will be loaned out to Molineux for the remainder of the season.

He would be Lopetegui’s first signing as boss – and it could lead to a permanent deal.

https://www.the-sun.com/sport/6960045/wolves-2-0-gillingham-lopetegui-efl-cup/ Julen Lopetegui stumbles on his first win as Wolves coach against the bottom of the Football League in the Carabao Cup

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