Espanyol 3-2 Wolves (agg: 3-6): Visitors progress despite Jonathan Calleri hat-trick

Jonathan Calleri scored a hat-trick as Espanyol ruined Wolves’ unbeaten away record in the Europa League with a 3-2 victory, but it could not stop the visitors progressing to the last 16, 6-3 on aggregate.

The forward's 91st-minute header handed the Spaniards victory as they gained an element of revenge on Wolves after a thumping 4-0 defeat at Molineux last week.

Matt Doherty's 79th-minute equaliser looked to have earned Wolves a hard-fought draw, although Pedro Neto squandered a glorious chance to win it as he shot wide when faced with an open goal in the closing stages.

Calleri also scored on 16 minutes and from the penalty spot 12 minutes after the break, either side of Adama Traore's equaliser in his hometown.

Wolves now turn their attention to Friday lunchtime's last-16 draw, while Espanyol will focus on their La Liga relegation battle.

Player ratings

Espanyol: Andres (6), Gomez (6), Naldo (6), Calero (6), Pedrosa (7), Melendo (6), Victor Sanchez (6), David Lopez (7), Darder (6), Vargas (7), Calleri (8)

Subs: Lozano (6), Wu (6), Avila Gordon (6)

Wolves: Patricio (6), Boly (5), Coady (6), Kilman (5), Doherty (6), Moutinho (6), Dendoncker (6), Gibbs-White (5), Vinagre (5), Traore (6), Podence (7)

Subs: Saiss (6), Neto (4), Jordao (N/A)

Man of the match: Calleri

How Espanyol restored pride - but Wolves prevailed

Espanyol came out with more determination than they had at Molineux last week and moments after Calleri was flagged offside after testing Rui Patricio, he opened the scoring.

Sloppy defending down Wolves' right saw Adria Pedrosa get to the byline and his ball across the six-yard box was met by Calleri, who fired it into the roof of the net.

Image: Jonathan Calleri scored a hat-trick in Espanyol's 3-2 victory over Wolves

That lead was short-lived, however, and it was Traore, raised just down the road from the RCDE Stadium but a former member of city rivals' Barcelona's academy, who got the equaliser. Daniel Podence picked out his team-mate in the box and, after his first effort was blocked, he made no mistake with his second bite at the cherry, finishing into the bottom corner.

Team news

With Wolves already having one foot firmly in the quarter-finals, Nuno made five changes to the side that beat Norwich 3-0. Kilman, Gibbs-White, Vinagre, Podence and Traore all came into the side with Saiss, Neves, Jota, Jimenez and the injured Jonny all making way.

There was little in the way of goalmouth action aside from the goals in a first half played like a pre-season friendly, but it livened up after the break as Espanyol made more of a fist of it.

Wolves' brightest spark, Podence, had the first opportunity of the second half as he fired over from 25 yards out, before Max Kilman was penalised as his high foot caught David Lopez in the box after his defensive colleagues failed to clear. Calleri made no mistake from the spot, sending Patricio the wrong way.

Morgan Gibbs-White had Wolves' best chance prior to the equaliser, firing over after Doherty played him in behind and he had shrugged off the attentions of Espanyol defender Naldo.

Doherty got himself on the scoresheet 15 minutes later, although the goal was all about Kilman and Podence's intuitive thinking. The former took a quick thrown-in as Podence stood five yards behind the home defence. He picked the ball up, raced into the box and passed the ball across the six-yard box for Doherty, who simply could not miss.

Image: Doherty taps home to make it 2-2

Wolves should have won it eight minutes later through Neto. A poor backpass allowed the substitute to steal in ahead of 'keeper Andres Prieto. Faced with an open goal but under pressure from a defender, Neto shanked an effort wide from 18 yards with only an empty net in front of him.

His anguish at that miss only deepened in the first minute of stoppage-time as Calleri was alert in the box to nod the ball beyond Patricio, completing his hat-trick and ending Wolves' impressive away run in the process.

Nuno Espirito Santo was clearly frustrated with his side's display at the final whistle, but they remain among the favourites to win this competition and will be one of the sides teams want to avoid in two weeks' time.

Nuno: Massive for club and city

Image: Adama Traore celebrates scoring for Wolves against Espanyol

Nuno admitted he was powerless to stop rising expectation levels after his side reached the last 16.

He said: "It's impossible, my job is this squad. How can I manage outside expectations?

"We are on the journey, we focus on our daily process, tomorrow we will train, Saturday we're going to train and then we will travel to play Tottenham [on Sunday].

"It's massive for the club and city, we are happy. We want to keep going. This gel between players is amazing.

"We should have done better [in the second leg] but the hard work was there and we made something which is massive for us. It was a lot of hard work last season so we are proud of what we have been doing."

Opta stats

  • Wolves have progressed through to the last 16 of a major European competition for the first time since the 1971-72 UEFA Cup, where they were losing finalists that season.
  • Wolves have lost each of their two away games against Spanish opposition in Europe, losing 0-4 against Barcelona in February 1960 and today against Espanyol.
  • Espanyol's Jonathan Calleri became the first player to score against Wolves in any competition since Roberto Firmino did so for Liverpool back in January, ending their run of 381 minutes without conceding.
  • Adama Traore has bagged six goals in all competitions this season for Wolves, his best-ever haul in a single campaign in his career.
  • Wolves' Matt Doherty has scored 14 goals in all competitions since the start of last season, more than any other defender for a Premier League side.

What's next?

Wolves continue their quest to qualify for Europe again next season with a trip to Tottenham on Sunday afternoon, kicking off at 2pm.

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