Gary O'Neil has hailed Wolverhampton Wanderers attacker Pablo Sarabia for his impact off the bench to propel his side to a dramatic 2-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur. The former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder's game time has been few and far between this season but it took just 10 minutes for him to make a stunning difference at Molineux on Saturday afternoon.
Called to action by O'Neil as the clock struck 87, Sarabia was instructed to try his luck at breaking the Spurs high line and he did so tremendously – twice. First off, it was an outstanding touch to control a searching Matheus Cunha pass before Sarabia struck sweetly on the half-volley to ripple the Tottenham net for 1-1. The Spaniard then turned provider as he set up Mario Lemina's winner with an exquisite through ball.
Sarabia became the latest substitute in Premier League history to both score and assist a goal and O'Neil, understandably, was ecstatic with his super substitute. "I'm really pleased, he forced my hand this week. He gets on the pitch purely off the quality and determination he's shown in the week. Even before the game, we were discussing with the coaching staff how Pablo can impact the game – and when, and what the game needs to look like for him to have a maximum impact," O'Neil revealed post-match.
"If you wanted anyone in those two situations – we have a talented group of course – but when the ball’s being fizzed across at the pace it was, you want someone with the touch and finish. In our group, Pablo would be at the top of the list. It’s the same with that pass to Mario, if you want someone on that ball to find a pass through a high line of Spurs, it’s Pablo high up that list."
Sarabia has only played just over 1,000 minutes for Wolves since signing under Julen Lopetegui in January but he'll be hoping for more after such a remarkable impression. O'Neil was particularly glad as he knows how tricky it's been for the player to watch on from the touchline. "It’s not easy not playing, especially when you’re an experienced pro playing for some big clubs. Having to work, sit and wait can be difficult so I’m really pleased for him," O'Neil concluded.
Wolves head into the November international break having made some superb progress toward their goal of staying in the Premier League. Now up to 15 points after 12 matches, the Old Gold are merely goal difference away from Chelsea in the top half. Next up is Fulham away from home on November 27.