Great Britain

Wolves 1 Olympiacos 0 (Wolves win 2-1 on agg): Jimenez penalty and Patricio brilliance earn Europa League last 8 place

WOLVES will join Manchester United in Germany next week for the eight-team dogfight which will decide who wins the Europa League.

But they didn’t half ride their luck on a night of high drama at Molineux before booking their ticket. 

Nuno Espirito Santo’s men have been on the wrong end of countless contentious VAR decisions this season - to the disgust of their fans.

But no-one in old gold would have binned VAR last night as technology finally worked in their favour.

Mady Camara thought he had pulled his side level just before the half hour when his deflected shot hit the Wolves net.

But after several minutes of checks VAR ruled that Yousseff El Arabi had just strayed offside by his armpit!

That meant Raul Jimenez’s penalty was enough to see Wolves through to the quarter-finals where five-times Europa League winners Sevilla await them in Duisburg on Tuesday.

However this 58th game of the season must have drained them as both teams went at each other hammer and tong from the start.

ROOKIE KEEPER LOST PLOT

Nuno must have told his players to tweak the old saying and be aware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Because Wolves cashed in with an early goal which was handed to them on a plate by their opponents who looked a bundle of nerves from the start.

The nervy Greeks almost conceded inside the opening minute when Jimenez pounced on a sloppy clearance but his volley from the edge of the box dipped a yard wide.

Six minutes later Wolves were ahead thanks to rookie goalie Bobby Allain who lost the plot completely on his European debut.

He took a heavy first-touch from an ill-advised Ousseynou Ba passback and Daniel Podence nipped in to gather - only for Allain to send the little striker tumbling with a needless nudge to his back.

Polish ref Szymon Marciniak pointed to the spot and VAR confirmed the ‘keeper’s mad rush of blood to his head.

Raul Jimenez showed the sorry stopper how to keep cool as he performed a little hop, skip and jump before casually sending him the wrong way to bag his 27th goal of the season.

Allain was in trouble again when he fumbled a cross and Jimenez bundled the ball into his net again eight minutes later. But this time he was let off the hook as Willy Boly clearing used an arm to impede him.

The half-French half-Scottish goalie had hoped to impress watching Scotland boss Steve Clarke however he had probably seen enough to switch channels before we’d reached the first drinks break.

OFFSIDE BY A TORSO

Wolves suffered a blow when wing-back Jonny went down clutching his knee with no-one around and had to be replaced by Ruben Vinagre.

It seemed to knock them out of their stride because suddenly the Greeks began to play and it took a stunning fingertip save from Rui Patricio to deny left-back Kostas Tsimikas.

Olympiacos underlined their threat when they carved Wolves open after 28 minutes when El Arabi seemed to spring the offside trap and centred for Mo Camara to slam the ball home with a deflection off Willy Boly.

Even Wolves players thought it was 1-1 - however they breathed a huge sigh of relief as VAR controversially decided the Morroccan striker had strayed a millimetre offside even though his feet looked half a yard onside.

Replays showed a fraction of El Arabi’s torso was beyond Matt Doherty but Wolves somehow survived - to the disgust of the visitors’ bench.

As tempers flared there was a flurry of bookings and Pape Cisse was inches away from connecting with an El Arabi flick at the back post.

Wolves were riding their luck although Jimenez seemed oblivious as he almost caught out Allain with a cheeky Rabona from 22 yards which beat the keeper but drifted narrowly over.

Ba was fortunate not to see red for a vicious head-butt to the back of Moutinho’s head which left the midfielder groggy, but the defender escaped with a yellow card.

Wolves spent the second half on a knife-edge as they survived a good penalty claim when Boly appeared to barge El Arabi off balance, forcing the striker to head wide with the goal at his mercy.

The Olympiacos striker then rippled the side-net after turning Conor Coady before Patricio defied sub Ahmed Hassan with a point blank save, which would have taken us to extra time.

As the clock ticked down even Nuno was dumped on his backside by dangerman El Arabi who was playing like a man possessed and accidentally collided with the coach, who sportingly picked himself up and accepted his apology.

However the important thing was his side somehow stood firm in the face of a late onslaught to hang on grimly and scrape their way through to the finals.

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