WOLVES great European adventure finally came to an end in Duisburg last night as Lucas Ocampos’ last-gasp header ended hopes of an all-English semi-final.
The Sevilla winger glanced an Ever Banega cross with a flick of his head to steer the ball beyond Rui Patricio and set up a Sunday date with Manchester United in Cologne.
However, Wolves fans will curse VAR yet again as technology failed to spot Sevilla villain Diego Carlos encroaching to clear from Raul Jimenez after the Mexican’s penalty was pushed away by Yassine Bounou.
That 11th-minute miss was Jimenez’s first-ever failure from the spot for Wolves at the ninth attempt and ultimately cost them against Europa League specialists Sevilla.
So after 30,000 miles and 17 ties it finally ended in tears for Wolves – 50 miles short of Cologne where they really wanted to be.
However Nuno’s weary Wolves can hold their heads high as they gave every last ounce they had left in them.
The task facing Nuno and his men was as hefty as Jadon Sancho’s price tag as Wolves braced themselves for their 59th match of their marathon season.
Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla were brimming with the confidence of a side enjoying the longest unbeaten run in their history as a top flight club.
Since losing to Celta Vigo in February, Sevilla had strung together 18 unbeaten games in all competitions.
You wouldn’t have blamed skipper Jesus Navas if he had chosen to swagger into the sweltering MSV Arena, Conor McGregor-style, after effortlessly swatting Serie A giants Roma 2-0 on the same turf last week.
This was their territory – the Europa League their field of expertise.
Wolves last breathed the rarified air of a European quarter-final 48 years ago when they beat Juventus on their way to the 1972 final, before succumbing to Spurs.
This was Sevilla’s sixth Europa League quarter-final since 2006 – and they went on to lift the trophy on five of those occasions.
However Wolves don’t roll out the red carpet for anyone and on a stormy night, it was clear from the start Nuno’s boys were ready to rumble.
“Let’s do what we do,” roared captain Conor Coady at kick-off. “Together, together!”
Within 30 seconds Adama Traore demonstrated what he does as he jinked past Sergio Reguilon to pick out Raul Jimenez but the Mexican’s back post header from 10 yards lacked power and direction.
Leander Dendocker then rippled the roof of the Sevilla net with a mid-air flick from a Joao Moutinho free-kick before Traore gave the Spaniards their first glimpse of his blistering pace to embarrass Fernando.
Wolves survived a scare when Willy Boly went down clutching his left thigh, which needed to be heavily strapped before he could return to action.
If there was one omen to spook Sevilla it was the fact referee Daniele Orsato was in charge three years ago when Leicester sent them crashing out of the Champions’ League – their only failure in eight knock-out-stage matches against English opposition.
The Italian sent off Samir Nasri that night and he made another big decision here after 11 minutes when he awarded Wolves an early penalty.
Traore put on the afterburners to hare away from Diego Carlos and the defender recklessly d the Wolves speedster crashing to the turf.
It was a stonewall penalty and yellow card for the sloppy defender who was only spared a red under the double-jeopardy rule.
Raul Jimenez strode forward with the confidence of a man who had scored all eight out of eight penalties for Wolves and casually performed his hop, skip and jump ritual before shooting.
However Sevilla keeper Bounou must have studied the striker’s technique after netting against Olympiacos and read the situation perfectly to save to his left.
Wolves have every right to ask what is the point of VAR if video ref Massimiliano Irrati and his VAR assistant Marco Guida failed to spot Carlos clearly encroaching.
The Sevilla stopper made a crucial interception to head the rebound away from Jimenez and Sevilla survived as Moutinho fired the loose ball over.
It was a mighty es and a mighty let-off for Sevilla who celebrated the moment with screams of joy and relief as if they had scored.
That moment transformed the Spaniards as manager Julen Lopetegui dropped Fernando deeper to limit Traore’s space and pushed both of his full-backs into midfield.
Youssef En-Neysri headed a Jesus Navas cross over before the Moroccan striker slashed another chance wide.
Wolves were hanging on for half-time as Lucas Ocampos curled a right-footer a fraction wide before Rui Patricio expertly held a Joan Jordan shot to keep his side on level terms.
As lightning flashed and thunder rolled Sevilla kept coming at Wolves.
Romain Saiss was booked for chopping down Suso who was beginning to run riot on the right.
Then Jordan beat the turf in frustration when Dendoncker appeared from nowhere to block him in front of goal.
Wolves were just about hanging in there and Nuno sent on fresh legs, replacing Moutinho with Pedro Neto after 70 minutes and Diogo Jota for Traore nine minutes later.
In between Patricio showed his class, pawing away Ever Banega’s free kick from the edge of the box. But Wolves were wobbling and playing from memory at times.
The end was cruel as Banega swing over a right foot cross which Ocampos steered into the far corner to deny Wolves that 60th match with Man Utd they craved.
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