Espanyol 3-2 Wolves (agg 3-6): Visitors into last 16 of Europa League

Espanyol 3-2 Wolves (agg 3-6): Adama Traore and Matt Doherty strikes seal place in last 16 of Europa League for visitors despite Jonathan Calleri’s hat-trick… and Pedro Neto could even afford to miss an open goal

  • Wolves qualified for the Europa League last 16 despite a narrow loss at Espanyol
  • They led 4-0 from first leg but Jonathan Calleri gave the hosts an early lifeline 
  • Traore’s away goal effectively killed the tie before Calleri scored a penalty
  • Doherty side-footed Podence’s cross into an empty net for the second equaliser
  • Substitute Neto failed to hit an open goal before Calleri completed his hat-trick

Adama Traore marked his return to Barcelona with the goal that gave Wolves safe passage to the last 16 of the Europa League.

The forward, who began his career with Espanyol’s more famous city rivals FC Barcelona, struck a 22nd-minute equaliser that gave Wolves a vital away goal and quickly quelled any chance of an unlikely Espanyol comeback as West Ham flop Jonathan Calleri’s hat-trick was in vain.

Trailing 4-0 from last week’s first leg at Molineux, the home side took an early lead through Calleri, but Traore’s effort left Espanyol needing five more to progress. 

Matt Doherty removed all doubts of an unlikely comeback with a second Wolves equaliser

Espanyol (4-4-2): Prieto 6; Gomez 5.5, Naldo 6, Calero 6, Pedrosa 5.5; Vargas 6.5, V Sanchez 6 (Lozano 61, 6), D Lopez 6, Melendo 6.5 (Pipa 75, 6); Darder 6.5 (Wu 67, 6), Calleri 8. 

Subs not used: Diego Lopez, Ferreyra, Cabrera, Embarba.

Booked: Calleri, Vargas, Sanchez 

Scorers: Calleri 15, 57 (pen) 

Manager: Abelardo Fernandez 6.5

Wolves (3-5-2): Patricio 6; Boly 6, Coady 6.5, Kilman 5.5; Doherty 7.5, Gibbs-White 5 (Neto 64, 6), Dendoncker 6, Moutinho 6.5, Vinagre 5.5 (Saiss 58, 6); Traore 7 (Jordao 79), Podence 7. Subs not used: Ruddy, Jimenez, Campana, Buur.

Booked: Traore, Gibbs-White, Kilman 

Scorers: Traore 22 

Manager: Nuno Espirito Santo 6

Referee: Marco Guida 6

Calleri scored his second from the penalty spot in the 57th minute yet Wolves were never really in danger of throwing this away, and Matt Doherty removed all doubts with a second equaliser 10 minutes from time. 

That goal meant Calleri’s third was little more than a consolation.

The match was blighted early in the second half by a clash between a small number of fans and police and stewards, which nevertheless ended quickly.

Wolves made five changes from the 3-0 win over Norwich last weekend, with Diogo Jota – who scored five goals in his previous two matches including a hat-trick in the first leg – not even in the 18.

Ruben Neves, also on target in the first game, was also given a breather, meaning a first start for January signing Daniel Podence. 

Espanyol’s priority this season is to stay in La Liga, so it was no surprise to see eight changes from their last match, a 2-1 defeat at Valladolid. 

Daniel Podence crossed for the impressive Doherty to tap in at the far post and ease the nerves

Abelardo Fernandez’s team are bottom of the table, five points adrift of safety.

Only two sides in the history of this competition had overturned a four-goal deficit from the first leg, and the state of the tie was one of the reasons why the ground was barely a third full, though the travelling Wolves fans ensured a rowdy atmosphere. 

Unsure whether to stick or twist, their team made a sluggish start, and Espanyol seized a 15th-minute lead with their first shot on target.

Espanyol scored their second goal on the night from the penalty spot in the 57th minute

A mix-up in midfield between Leander Dendoncker and Willy Boly allowed Oscar Melendo to run at the Wolves defence. The left-winger slipped the ball to the overlapping Adria Pedrosa, who squared for Calleri to turn the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.

Wolves needed a quick equaliser to settle their nerves – and they duly found it through Traore, who was playing alongside Podence in attack as boss Nuno Espirito Santo opted not to choose an orthodox striker.

Podence’s low cross from the right picked out Traore inside the box and though his first effort was blocked by Fernando Calero, the rebound fell kindly for Traore. Andres Prieto got a hand to the shot but could not stop it creeping into the far corner.

Adama Traore all but ended the match as a contest after equalising in the 22nd minute

Wolves forward took advantage of a ricochet and stroked the ball into the bottom corner

At the start of the second half, a small number of fans clashed with police and stewards, after entering an area behind the goal on the second tier of the stand. Punches were thrown but the dispute was quickly quelled.

Podence fired over from the edge of the box as he sought to put Wolves further ahead but soon afterwards, Espanyol regained the lead. 

Max Kilman was penalised for a high challenge that caught David Lopez in the face and Calleri sent Rui Patricio the wrong way from the spot. Kilman was booked.

Jonathan Calleri had given Espanyol a lifeline by opening the scoring in the 16th minute

Calleri calmly slotted the ball past the Wolves goalkeeper from a cross by Adria Pedrosa

Moments later, Wolves might have equalised when Matt Doherty collected a return pass from Traore and fed Morgan Gibbs-White, only for the young midfielder – who had a disappointing evening – to miss the target from the edge of the box.

Wolves rarely lost their composure, however, and put the full stop on the tie with 10 minutes remaining. Podence, who had a promising game, escaped down the left and crossed for the impressive Doherty to tap in at the far post.

There was still time for a remarkable error from substitute Pedro Neto, who shot wide of an empty net after he had rounded Prieto, but there was no of it proving costly, even though Calleri completed his treble with a close-range header in stoppage time. 

Traore was booked in the sixth minute of the game after catching Oscar Melendo with his arm

Espanyol defender Naldo (left) was given a tough time by impressive Wolves forward Traore

Traore is helped up by his team-mate Joao Moutinho after being fouled in the first-half

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article