Espanyol make Europa League exit despite win over Wolves

Jonathan Calleri’s hat-trick clinched a 3-2 victory for Espanyol over Wolves in this Europa League second-leg encounter, but the damage had already been done in their 4-0 defeat at Molineux.

Away goals from Adama Traore and Matt Doherty killed off the tie, making it 3-6 on aggregate to the Premier League side and leaving Espanyol to focus on their fight against relegation from La Liga. They are currently rock bottom in the table, five points from safety.

The Barcelona-based club marked a return to the European stage after 12 years this season by topping their Europa qualifying group with 11 points from a possible 18, creating confidence for the round of 32 knockout phase.

However, the dreams of the 1,200 ‘pericos’ who travelled to England for the first leg against Wolves were dashed as Diego Jota scored three times and Ruben Neves also found the net to create a seemingly unassailable lead in the tie.

Feisty encounter

Abelardo Fernandez’s team were, though, given hope on home soil by Calleri’s opener just past the quarter-hour mark, only to see the visitors reply through the dangerous Traore in the 22nd minute.

Calleri, on loan from Deportivo Maldonado, restored Espanyol’s lead from the spot in the 57th minute after Max Kilman raised his boot his on David Lopez.

In a feisty encounter which saw six yellow cards, Wolves were able to sit back, with their hosts having 63% possession and double the number of passes.

But pressing forward left Espanyol vulnerable on the counter, and Doherty duly made it 2-2 from Daniel Podence’s cross with 11 minutes remaining. Calleri’s winner came via a header in the first minute of added time.

Afterwards, Abelardo said he took heart from Espanyol’s fighting display, adding: “Today the fans have seen again the team they want.”