Braga 3 (A Horta 6, Paulinho 65, Fransergio 79) Wolves 3 (Jimenez 13, Doherty 34, Traore 35)
Wolves booked their place in the knockout stages of the Europa League, despite letting a two-goal lead slip to Braga. A thrilling draw, with six goals and six different scorers, saw the points shared in Portugal and both Wolves and Braga progress together into the last 32 in the new year.
Wolves had recovered from Andre Horta’s early strike to put themselves in a healthy position before the break. Raul Jimenez’s sparked the comeback with a close-range header and then set up Matt Doherty and Adama Traore, who provided clinical finishes.
However, the hosts roared back after the restart and got their draw thanks to goals from Paulinho and Fransergio, but Wolves now lead Slovan Bratislava in third by six points with just one game remaining, meaning the European journey continues in 2020.
The original tie between the two teams at the start of the group stages proved frustrating for Wolves and they started slowly in Portugal too – this time it took Braga just six minutes to take the lead. Ricardo Horta had bagged the winner in Wolverhampton and in Portugal his brother Andre was in the goals, letting fly from distance and watching his strike deflect off Ruben Neves on its way into the top corner.
However, unlike at Molineux, Wolves had a clinical response this time. Joao Moutinho sent Jonny scampering down the left and the wing-back produced a perfectly-weighted cross for Jimenez, and the Mexican simply nodded the ball back where it came for 1-1.
The Mexican has now scored in seven of his last eight matches in all competitions and continued his first-half productivity with a pair off assists. First, Jimenez turned away, spotted the deep run of Doherty and clipped a fine cross into the path of the onrushing Irishman, who steered his header in at the near post.
Just one minute and 22 seconds separated Doherty’s strike with the goal that created breathing space. Up stepped Jimenez again, this time slipping a through ball for Traore, the Spaniard then took a touch past Wallace in the Braga defence and rifled a right-footed effort through former Chelsea goalkeeper Eduardo.
Half-time: Braga 1 Wolves 3
The break did little to disrupt Wolves’ rhythm and they were quickly on the attack again after the restart. Diogo Jota was given the opportunity to score on Portuguese soil by Traore, but the forward’s header was parried to safety by Eduardo, who also produced a routine save to deny Jimenez on the turn.
However, those missed opportunities kept the door open for Braga and their hope reignited through a second goal. Galeno was the creator down the left and his centre across the face of goal allowed Paulinho to turn into an empty net.
And that hope became a reality 15 minutes later as Braga pulled themselves level. A corner wasn’t properly cleared and Fransergio rose highest to meet the returning cross and power a header high, past Rui Patricio, but, nevertheless, Wolves could celebrate qualification at the final whistle, and the European adventure continues.
Full-time: Braga 3 Wolves 3
Braga: Eduardo, Sequeira, Wallace (W Eduardo 58), A Horta, Paulinho (Santos 86), R Horta (Fonte 73), Fransergio, Viana, Esgaio, Palhinha, Galeno.
Unused subs: Matheus, Agbo, Viana, Novais.
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Jonny, Neves, Moutinho, Traore (Vinagre 75), Jota (Cutrone 79), Jimenez (Neto 69).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Vallejo, Kilman, Otasowie.