Wolverhampton Wanderers secured their places in the UEFA Europa League as they beat Torino 2-1 in the second-leg of their playoff at Molineux on Thursday evening.
Following a 3-2 win in Italy in the first-leg, Nuno Espirito Santo’s men extended their lead midway through the first-half as Raul Jimenez continued his hot streak in front of goal with a predatory finish. Torino earned a foothold after the break as Andrea Belotti nodded home. However, the hosts firmly put the tie to bed only a minute later as Leander Dendoncker picked off a rebound and steered the ball into the net via the post to book Wolves’ place in the group stages.
Torino start strong
It was predictably the visitors who started the better, especially as they were behind in the tie going into the match. After dominating possession, the first real chance came the way of Andrea Belotti as he just failed to get on the end of Lorenzo De Silvestri’s knockdown.
The hosts did eventually create an opportunity however, and it was all down to the work of in-form Adama Traore. The former Barcelona wideman powered down the right and through the Torino defence before having his shot well-saved by Salvatore Sirigu.
Wolves tip the balance
The supporters at Molineux did not have to wait much longer for the opening goal and it was Traore at the heart of it yet again. The winger manufactured space on the right, checked back and tossed a low cross into the box that Jimenez reacted well to turn it into the net.
Simone Zaza should have hit a quick equaliser but could only force Rui Patricio into a comfortable save with a weak header as Wolves headed into the break in an extremely comfortable position.
Torino continued to push after the restart and it was again Wolves’ goalkeeper to the rescue as he produced a wonderful stop to tip away Baselli’s free-kick as Torino looked for a route back into the tie.
Goals galore in the Black Country
They eventually did find that foothold and it was the dangerous Baselli who was the architect as another exquisite free-kick was whipped into the Wolves box. It perfectly picked out Belotti, with the striker glancing the ball past Patricio.
That was only a fleeting moment of hope for the Italians though as Nuno’s troops struck again just over a minute later. Diogo Jota’s shot was saved initially but fell to Dendoncker who reacted first to steer it home.
Walter Mazzari’s men did deserve some credit in the closing stages as they made it a nervy ending with Zaza twice going close, albeit sending efforts off target.
Chances continued to come in the final few minutes as Dendoncker almost got a second only for his drive to be stopped by Sirigu. Substitute Soualiho Meïté also went close for the visitors but sent his effort from range marginally wide. Torino were not able to reduce the deficit at all though as they fell at the final hurdle.
Over the two legs, this was probably a fair result. The Premier League outfit played arguably the better football and had the higher quality chances in both matches. Torino will be disappointed having not put up more of a fight but they certainly made it difficult for Wolves late on in both matches. However, it was not quite enough as Nuno’s men look forward to the draw for the group stages.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patricio (7); Boly (7), Coady (6), Vallejo (6); Traore (7), Saiss (6), Moutinho (7) (Neves (N/A), 90′), Jonny (6); Jimenez (8) (Neto (N/A), 90+2′), Jota (7) (Cutrone (N/A), 81′).
Torino: Sirigu (7); Bonifazi (6), Bremer (5), Izzo (6); Aina (6) (Berenguer (5), 70′), Lukic (6), Rincon (5), (Meite (7), 72′) Baselli (7), De Silvestri (6); Zaza (6) (Millico (5), 72′), Belotti (7).
Goals: Jimenez (30′), Belotti (57′), Dendoncker (58′)
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano
Yellow Cards: Baselli (33′), Jonny (45′), Lukic (48′), Bremer (63′)
Red Cards: N/A
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