Wolves Pedro Neto (L) celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Europa League first leg of round-of-16 football match between Olympiakos FC and Wolves at the Karaiskakis Stadium, in Piraeus, near Athens. - The match is held behind closed doors due to the s
Europa League Last 16 FIrst Leg, Stadio Karaiskaki - Olympiacos 1 (El Arabi 54') Wolves 1 (Neto 67')
Olympiacos and Wolves battled to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of this round of 16 Europa League, in a match played behind closed doors due to the escalating coronavirus crisis.
Both teams were initially subdued given the circumstances, though the game tilted in Wolves’ favour after 29 minutes when Ruben Semedo brought down the breaking Diogo Jota just outside the Olympiacos area and received a straight red card.
Despite that setback Olympiacos took the lead when a break down the right led to a tap-in for Youseff El Arabi just before the hour. Wolves drew level eight minutes later when a deflected Pedro Neto free kick trickled into the Olympiacos net.
As things stand Wolves return to Molineux next week with a slight advantage due to their away goal, but there is understandable doubt about whether that fixture will be able to go ahead.
Will the Europa League be able to finish this season? Wolves wanted the game postponed this evening, calling it an ‘unnecessary risk’ due to the coronavirus outbreak. It went ahead regardless, and the eerie atmosphere in an almost empty stadium seemed to sum up the futility of continuing with these competitions in the face of such a crisis. UEFA will hold a meeting on Tuesday where the immediate futures of the Europa League, the Champions League and Euro 2020 will all be up for serious debate.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Ruben Neves (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
It took Wolves until the sending off to get a real foothold in the game, but when they did it was Neves that pulled the strings for them. He worked the ten men of Olympiacos all over the pitch with his quick and economical passing and was at the heart of all Wolves’ best work.
Olympiacos (4-3-3): Sa 7; Tsimikas 6, Ba 6, Semedo 5, Elabdellaoui 6; Bouchalakis 6, Camara 7, Guilherme 7; Valbuena 6, El Arabi 7, Masouras 6
29’ RED CARD! This is a big moment in the game. Wolves break quickly and Jiminez finds Jota in acres on the left. Jota runs it to the edge of the Olympiacos area and faces up Semedo. As Jota went past him Semedo checked him to the floor. That's denial of a goalscoring opportunity, and Semedo is gone.
54’ GOAL! Olympiacos 1 (El Arabi 54) Wolves 0 Out of nothing Olympiacos are ahead! They break down the right through Camara, who lays a ball off to Guilherme who bursts into the WOlves area. His cutback takes out Patricio and the Wolves defence, leaving El Arabi a tap-in from four yards out at the back post!
59’ CHANCE! Wolves work a lovely move, as Neves slides a great angled ball through to Jimenez in the area on the right. He blasts a shot at goal, which cracks Sa flush in the face and goes out for a corner.
67’ GOAL! Olympiacos 1 Wolves 1 (Neto 67) Wolves are level! Moutinho ran over the dead ball and rolled it infield for Neto, who drives a low shot that clips off an Olympiacos defender in the wall, wrongfooting Sa before trickling into the net!
Pedro Neto, who turned 20 on Monday, is Wolves’ youngest goalscorer in Europe since 1972.
Olympiacos have won only 2 of their last 14 knockout matches in European competition.