Sunday 15 December 2019

Wolves blow two-goal lead but progress after thrilling draw at Braga

Braga 3-3 Wolves

Wolves' Matt Doherty scores their second goal. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Wolves' Matt Doherty scores their second goal. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Nick Mashiter

Wolves reached the Europa League knockout stages with a game to spare despite blowing a two-goal lead in Braga.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side suffered a second-half stumble to draw 3-3 in Portugal. Raul Jimenez, Matt Doherty and Adama Traore had fired the visitors into a 3-1 lead after Andre Horta's early opener.

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But second-half goals from Paulinho and captain Fransergio rescued Braga to also send them into the last 32. They remain top of Group K, a point ahead of Wolves, ahead of the final matches on December 12.

Last night also allowed Wolves to briefly forget any speculation linking boss Nuno to Arsenal but early qualification only served to enhance his reputation.

Wolves' Adama Traore scores their third goal. Photo: Action Images via Reuters
Wolves' Adama Traore scores their third goal. Photo: Action Images via Reuters

Both sides needed just a point needed to reach the last 32 but Braga laid the first claim for all three after six minutes.

Even then, the opener came from nothing when Andre Horta collected the ball 30 yards out. His drive deflected off Ruben Neves' boot to fly past the helpless Rui Patricio for the winger's first goal since August.

Wolves, though, responded just eight minutes later to equalise.

The visitors had a quiet start but Jonny was afforded too much space on the left to float a perfect cross to the far post for Jimenez to net his 15th goal of the season.

S.C. Braga's Ricardo Horta in action with Wolves' Leander Dendoncker. Photo: Reuters
S.C. Braga's Ricardo Horta in action with Wolves' Leander Dendoncker. Photo: Reuters

Punished

Braga, the 2011 beaten finalists, retreated and Wolves punished them with a quick-fire double.

First, Doherty ran unchecked into the area to plant a fine header past the exposed Eduardo from Jimenez's cute cross after 34 minutes.

Just 81 seconds later Jimenez fed Traore and he drilled through former Chelsea goalkeeper Eduardo.

Braga shocked them after 64 minutes when Paulinho pulled a goal back, tapping in Galeno's low centre.

The visitors continued to falter and Braga levelled with 11 minutes left to keep their European dreams alive.

Nuno Sequeira crossed from the right and Fransergio headed in.

Meanwhile, Rangers were made to wait to seal a place in the last 32 of the Europa League despite Alfredo Morelos' record-breaking double securing a draw with Feyenoord.

Steven Gerrard's men were on the brink of securing a place in the knock-out rounds but Morelos' international colleague Luis Sinisterra grabbed an equaliser for Dick Advocaat's team.

However, Rangers did move to the top of Group G and will seal qualification with a draw against Young Boys at Ibrox in a fortnight.

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