Milijas draws on World Cup promise to fire-up Wolves

Wolves 2 Bolton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Football

Nenad Milijas' name does not lend itself to Black Country songs of praise and he may never join Steve Bull and Billy Wright in having a stand named in his honour at Molineux. Yet he played a pivotal role in a victory for Wolves to underline the power of the World Cup to concentrate minds.

Barely 24 hours after his country, Serbia, were drawn to meet Germany, Australia and Ghana next summer, Milijas put behind him a staccato start to Premier League life. After creating a goal to give Wolves the impetus they craved in their bottom-three battle against Bolton, he positively bludgeoned the second.

During the Serbs' progress from their group ahead of France, the 26-year-old partnered Dejan Stankovic, who went from the same Belgrade suburb to Serie A. However, his international coach, Raddy Antic, must have been uneasy about his lack of first-team action since a £2.6m move from Red Star Belgrade.

Milijas is confident he would have gone to South Africa irrespective of club form. Asked whether he had to play every week to keep his place, he replied: "I don't have that problem. I need to train well and be fit and healthy. I just want to give 100 per cent of myself but if I'm not playing, I don't think it's so much of a problem."

Antic may not espouse such a laissez-faire approach and, like Wolves' manager, Mick McCarthy, his delight was doubtless tempered by relief. Milijas played down his contribution, which began when a wickedly whipped-in free-kick made a goal for Jody Craddock, who was in an offside position, and culminated with a swerving 30-yard shot that left Jussi Jaaskelainen clawing air.

"The win was the most important thing because there was big pressure on this team (after losing to Birmingham)," Milijas said.

Though Gary Megson is close to chairman Phil Gartside, the team's downward spiral must be prompting boardroom concern. They started playing only after Johan Elmander's close-range finish, their belated siege allowing the United States' No 3 goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann to remind World Cup rivals England that the Americans excel in at least one position.

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Stearman, Craddock, Berra, Ward; Edwards (Mancienne, 84), Henry, Milijas, Jarvis; Doyle, Ebanks-Blake (Maierhofer, 80). Substitutes not used: Hennessey (gk), Keogh, Surman, Foley, Castillo.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jasskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, A O'Brien, Samuel (Elmander, 71); Yong-Lee, Gardner, McCann, Cohen, Taylor; Klasnic. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Ricketts, M Davies, Knight, Elmander, Obadeyi, Muamba.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Booked: Wolves Stearman, Hahnemann; Bolton McCann.

Man of the match: Milijas.

Attendance: 27,362.