Wolves 0 Sevilla 1 (Ocampos 89)
Wolves’ thrilling European adventure came to the cruelest of ends in Germany, as Sevilla struck with a minute remaining to ensure the old gold’s first Europa League quarter-final in 48 years ended in a narrow, agonising defeat.
Lucas Ocampos’ deft header finally broke Wolves’ resistance in Duisburg and drew the curtain on a season of a lifetime, which started more than a year ago, and has provided some unbelievable memories.
It could have been very different on the night, had Raul Jimenez converted his first-half penalty, but Yassine Bounou foiled him, and Wolves were made to pay for that missed opportunity, as chances to follow were few and far between and Sevilla finally made their dominance count right at the death.
Despite the magnitude of the occasion, Wolves’ first European quarter-final in nearly 50 years, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side settled remarkably quickly. After group pressing in the right corner, Adama Traore worked an opening to cross for Jimenez, who, leaning back, managed to steer his header on target but into the arms of Bounou.
Less than two minutes later and Wolves were on the front foot again, this time Leander Dendoncker guided Joao Moutinho’s cross onto the roof of the net. Then came the game’s big first talking point, which would go against Wolves.
Traore picked the ball up inside his own half, in what Sevilla would have deemed a safe area, but turned on the afterburners and was away, leaving defenders in his wake – the only way to stop him was a cynical chop from behind. Penalty was the decision, but the normally reliable taker Jimenez finally came unstuck from 12 yards, as Bounou went left and guessed correctly.
That miss failed to knock Wolves’ rhythm significantly during a fascinating opening half hour, which also saw Youssef En-Nesyri drag a shot wide for Sevilla and Joao Moutinho hit a looping effort over the crossbar for Nuno’s men.
As the half neared a conclusion, the Spaniards were enjoying more possession, but struggled to break down an organised Wolves side, with Ever Banega’s long-range effort, a simple catch for Rui Patricio, the best they could muster.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Sevilla 0
Sevilla’s monopoly of possession continued after the interview, but Wolves continued to stand strong. On the rare occasion Ocampos got in behind them, Dendoncker nipped in with a timely interception before Joan Jordan could get a shot away – one which would surely have given the La Liga side the lead.
Soon after En-Nesyri wriggled his way through, only to be denied low down by Patricio, before Jules Kounde headed over a tempting Jesus Navas cross – Sevilla were turning the screw.
In a bid to turn the tide, Nuno changed formation and personnel. On came Pedro Neto to replace Moutinho and play down the left, with Traore pushing further right. Soon after Patricio was at full-stretch to claw away Banega’s free-kick, as Diogo Jota joined the action in place of Traore.
However, a cruel twist was yet to come for Wolves as a corner was taken short to Banega and the midfielder whipped in a brilliant cross which Ocampos was able to nod out of the reach of Patricio with just minutes remaining and send the Spaniards into the semi-finals.
Full-time: Wolves 0 Sevilla 1
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Boly, Coady, Saiss, Vinagre, Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho (Neto 71), Traore (Jota 79), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Sondergaard, Kilman, Richards, Buur, Marques, Jordao, Gibbs-White, Campana.
Sevilla: Bounou, Ocampos, Banega, Kounde, Navas, Carlos, Reguilon, Jordan (Vazquez 85), Fernando, En-Nesyri (de Jong 85), Suso (El-Haddadi 89).
Unused subs: Vaclik, Sanchez, Gomez, Munir, Escudero, Torres, Mena, Alonso, Genaro, Perez.