Wolves’ epic season reached an agonising finish as Lucas Ocampos headed a purpose two minutes from time to ship Sevilla right into a Europa League semi-final in opposition to Manchester United. There could be no begrudging the Spaniards their progress on the stability of play on this quarter-final, however Wolves’ ache was deepened by the information that issues might need panned out very in another way if Raúl Jiménez had not had a penalty saved early on – or if the referee, or VAR, had noticed encroachment by Sevilla’s Diego Carlos and ordered a retake.
Sevilla, the definitive specialists on this match, took cost after that let-off however Wolves survived their finest efforts and clung to the hope of touchdown a decisive blow on the counterattack till Ocampos lastly exploded their resistance, glancing in a header following a luxurious inswinging cross from Éver Banega.
It was a shattering approach for Wolves to finish their 59th match of an exceptionally difficult season and their first European quarter-final since 1972. However when time smooths the rawness of this defeat, Nuno Espírito Santo and his squad can replicate with satisfaction on the feats that took them this far. This Europa League marketing campaign started in July 2019 however, in a deeper sense, it began with the appointment of Nuno in Could 2017. Wolves had simply completed 15th within the Championship earlier than the Portuguese supervisor’s arrival, squashed glumly between Barnsley and Ipswich City. Nuno constructed an identification that has earned promotion, two top-half finishes within the Premier League and rousing victories on the continent earlier than this honourable defeat to the Europa League’s most embellished membership.
Though tinged with controversy owing to the failure to punish Carlos for coming into the field earlier than Jiménez took his penalty, this was a convincing victory for Sevilla, who’re seemingly make Manchester United’s defence pressure no less than as arduous as Wolves’ needed to right here.
But issues began brightly for Nuno’s aspect – or, in a single sense, not fairly as brightly as feared, for the reason that clouds overlaying Duisburg meant the temperature was a lot cooler than forecast. Earlier than kick-off Conor Coady’s rallying name could possibly be heard loud and clear within the virtually empty area. “Let’s do what we do!” hollered the Wolves captain. Thirty-seven seconds later Adama Traoré and Jiménez did precisely that, combining with charmingly acquainted menace, besides that the striker’s header from Traoré’s cross was shut sufficient to the goalkeeper to allow a save.
Nuno’s ways gave Traoré the liberty to roam the place he happy as part of a entrance two. Within the 11th minute Traoré gave an superior demonstration of his menace, amassing the ball inside his personal half earlier than turning and sprinting into the opposing field, the place Carlos chopped him down in desperation.
The defender escaped with a yellow card and his crime paid off when Yassine Bounou learn Jiménez’s weak penalty and made a snug save. The sense of injustice deepened when replays prompt Carlos strayed into the realm illegally, though apparently that’s not how the Italian official on VAR obligation noticed it.
Three minutes later Rui Patrício needed to intervene for the primary time to disclaim Suso. It could turn into a really busy evening for the Wolves goalkeeper as Sevilla began to benefit from the lion’s share of possession. Wolves scrambled arduous to maintain them at bay.
Wolves had been grateful to see Youssef En-Nesyri pull a shot huge from 15 yards after Suso opened them up within the 27th minute. As Sevilla discovered an ominous groove – all zippy passing and nifty motion -Ocampos went near opening the scoring, curling simply huge. Wolves battened down the hatches and hoped to eke out no less than yet another probability for Traoré to storm ahead on the counter. None got here and Traoré was finally changed.
Wolves are typically stronger within the second half however Sevilla by no means relented sufficient right here to permit Nuno’s aspect to battle again. Romain Saïss’s reserving on 48 minutes for clunking into Suso appeared a symptom of Wolves’ rising discomfort.
Saïss discovered himself in additional problem when Ocampos made a run into the field on his blind aspect to gather a canny cross and pull the ball again to Jordan, forcing Leander Dendoncker to make a crucial block. Two minutes later Patrício needed to cease En-Nesyri after the striker bounded previous three defenders by willpower as a lot as ability. Then Wolves had been reprieved by Jules Koundé, who headed huge from shut vary after a cross by Suso.
With 20 minutes to go Nuno tried to show the tables. He launched Pedro Neto for João Moutinho and switched to a three-pronged assault. However Sevilla stored coming and would have scored by a free-kick by Ocampos if not for one more save by Patrício. Nonetheless Wolves held on, with Coady bawling reminders that only one extra probability is perhaps sufficient for them to prevail. As a substitute, Sevilla lastly transformed one in every of their alternatives, Ocampos breaking the impasse and Wolves’ hearts.