Wolves were left to rue a missed penalty from Raul Jimenez as they were knocked out of the Europa League by Sevilla, who landed a late knockout blow in a 1-0 win.
In Wolves’ first European quarter-final since 1972, they had the perfect opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot after a quite scintillating run from Adama Traore on 12 minutes but Raul Jimenez was denied by goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
Replays showed that the goalkeeper was slightly off his line when the kick was taken and a Sevilla defender was encroaching – but VAR didn’t order a retake.
From that moment Sevilla took over and bossed possession – forcing Wolves to defend for the majority of the game – and the breakthrough came with just two minutes to play when Lucas Ocampos headed home following a superb cross from Ever Banega.
It ends an exciting season for Wolves on a deflating note with their late loss of form resulting in a seventh-placed finish in the Premier League which wasn’t enough for European qualification.
For Sevilla, they now play Manchester United in the semi-finals on Friday.
How Wolves ran out of steam after epic journey…
This was a true elite test at the top level of European football for Wolves, who were coming up against a team that had won this competition five times and finished fourth in La Liga.Having come through three rounds of qualifiers that started 12 months ago, then the group stages and on to the knockouts, the journey to this stage had been a long one for Wolves, who started very brightly.
Traore surprisingly started through the middle with Raul Jimenez and his speed caused so many problems in the early stages for Sevilla.
It was him that created the first major moment in the match by winning the penalty. His direct run through the heart of the Sevilla defence that took him 70 yards was ended by a rash sliding challenge from Santos Silva inside the area.
Jimenez usually is the man for a high-pressure penalty but ruined his 100 per cent record from the spot for Wolves as Bounou didn’t fall for his slow run-up and palmed away a poor effort, although replays did show that the goalkeeper was slightly off his line when Jimenez made contact, plus the defender that cleared the ball was encroaching in the area.
However, VAR deemed the incident within the laws of the game and didn’t order a retake.
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Joao Moutinho couldn’t convert the rebound either as Sevilla survived a major scare.
A switch to a back three helped fend off the threat of Traore for the remainder of the half with Banega and Suso dominating the midfield.
Despite the territorial advantage, Sevilla didn’t manage to open up the Wolves backline and only had a shot from Joan Jordan which Rui Patricio dealt with comfortably to show for their efforts.
The Sevilla possession percentage grew further after the break as Wolves struggled to get hold of the ball and provide themselves a platform to play out from.
Leonardo Dendoncker was tasked with making a great last-ditch challenge to stop Jordan before the impressive Jules Koundé wasted a glorious opportunity from eight yards when heading over from a perfect Suso cross.
Patricio had to be at his brilliant best to help a Banega free-kick from 20 yards over his own crossbar as Nuno Espirito Santo reacted to his team’s lack of ideas by bringing on Pedro Neto and Diogo Jota.
The changes failed to spark Wolves into life though as Sevilla continued to ask questions of a tiring Wolves defence that had been overworked since the early stages.
Eventually, that pressure told when Banega provided the quality from the wide area and Ocampos got above his marker to flick an unstoppable header into the far corner.
A heartbreaking end to what has been a great European adventure for Wolves.
Man of the match: Ever Banega
Perennially underrated, Banega has enjoyed another fine season bossing matches in La Liga and he was absolutely instrumental in making sure Sevilla won the midfield battle. His quick passing and clever movement made Ruben Neves and Moutinho consistently work to maximum level without the ball.
It was no surprise to see that when the game-changing moment came, he was the man delivering the goods into the goalscorer Ocampos. Manchester United beware.
What the managers said
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo: “It’s been a long journey. We wanted to go as far as we could. We had it today really, really close. Of course everybody’s disappointed, but we should not ignore all the effort the players have been done. Its almost 14 months of hard work. Disappointment is something that cannot take away all the good things that we’ve been doing.”
Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui: “I think we deserved the win. The key was to chip, chip, chip away, have patience and wait until the right moment.
“We are going to play against Manchester United in the next match. They’re the biggest team in the world but we’re going to be prepared for them.”
Analysis: Wolves were non-existent
Former Wolves player Michael Kightly, speaking on Sky Sports News:
“I’m so disappointed that Wolves haven’t played how they played all season. First half they looked a threat but second half they were non-existent. It was gutting to see. If they had played to their usual level they would have got through. It hurts to say it but Sevilla were the better team.”