September 25, 2021

Jimenez fires Wolves to Europa quarters

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Raul Jimenez’s penalty fired Wolves to a 1-0 win over Olympiakos and into the Europa League quarter-finals after a 2-1 aggregate victory.

Jimenez took his tally for the season to 27 with a coolly dispatched spot-kick inside eight minutes after Olympiakos goalkeeper Bobby Allain bundled Daniel Podence over in the area.

Wolves had to ride their luck to reach the last eight though, with a marginal offside and VAR denying Mohamed Camara a first-half equaliser before Youssef El Arabi and Ahmed Hassan spurned chances to haul Olympiakos level.

But a steely defensive display saw Wolves through a nervy finale as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side booked a quarter-final date with five-time Europa League winners Sevilla in Duisburg on Tuesday, August 11.

Player ratings

Wolves: Patricio (8), Boly (7), Coady (8), Saiss (7), Doherty (7), Moutinho (7), Neves (7), Jonny (6), Traore (6), Jimenez (8), Podence (7).

Subs: Vinagre (6), Jota (6), Dendoncker (6).

Olympiakos: Allain (4), Elabdellaoui (6), Ba (6), Cisse (6), Tsimikas (6), Guilherme (6), Camara (6), Bouchalakis (5), Masouras (5), Valbuena (6), El Arabi (7).

Subs: Fortounis (7), Randjelovic (6), Hassan (6), Cafu (n/a).

Man of the Match: Raul Jimenez.

Europa League quarter-final draw

Monday, August 10 – quarter-final 1/2
Man Utd vs Copenhagen (RheinEnergieStadion)
Inter Milan vs Bayer Leverkusen (Merkur Spiel-Arena)

Tuesday, August 11 – quarter-final 3/4
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Basel (Veltins Arena)
Wolves vs Sevilla (Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena)

How Wolves ground out historic victory

Image: Jimenez slotted his 27th goal of the season home from the penalty spot

Wolves opened the scoring with eight minutes on the clock after awful Olympiakos defending. The visitors hesitated clearing their lines and Allain’s heavy touch allowed Podence to close him down before the former Olympiakos man was bundled over by the goalkeeper.

The referee pointed straight to spot and up stepped Jimenez to stroke Wolves ahead in the tie for the first time with his 27th goal of his stellar season.

Wolves survived a scare on 28 minutes when Camara found the Wolves net with a deflected effort, but after a lengthy VAR check the equaliser was chalked off after El Arabi was adjudged to have been an armpit offside in the build-up.

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Pape Abou Cisse was a whisker away from turning El Arabi’s dangerous cross home and Camara dragged a shot wide of the target as Olympiakos finished the half strongly, but Wolves reached the interval with their lead intact.

Team news

  • Joao Moutinho, Adama Traore and Daniel Podence returned as Wolves made three changes from the defeat at Chelsea on the final day of the Premier League season.

A tense and nervy second period saw Olympiakos, bolstered by a raft of attacking substitutes, grow in ascendancy, but El Arabi was unable to restore parity on two occasions, heading wide while under pressure from Willy Boly before firing a shot wide after it struck his standing leg.

Wolves came close to doubling their lead just after the hour mark when Allain turned Podence’s drive over seconds before Boly failed to convert Diogo Jota’s deflected shot with the goal at his mercy.

Image: Ahmed Hassan’s late header forced a fine save from Rui Patricio

As the seconds ticked down, Olympiakos threw everything at Wolves in search of the equaliser, which midfielder Guilherme nearly secured when he whistled a shot inches over.

Rui Patricio was called into action to prevent Hassan’s towering header from levelling the tie late on, but Wolves saw off the Olympiakos challenge as their Europa League quest – which started 379 days ago – continued.

Opta stats: Wolves making history

  • Wolves have reached the quarter-finals of a major European competition for the first time since 1972, when they were beaten finalists against Tottenham in the UEFA Cup.
  • Olympiakos have now lost 14 away ties against English sides in all European competitions; against no other nation’s sides have they lost more (level with Spain).
  • Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez has scored all eight of the penalties he has taken for the club in all competitions.

What’s next?

Wolves face Sevilla in the Europa League quarter-finals on August 11 at 8pm.

Europa League: key dates

  • Europa League quarter-finals: August 10/11 (8pm BST)
  • Europa League semi-finals: August 16/17 (8pm BST)
  • Europa League final: August 21 (8pm BST)