​A wonderstrike from Ruben Neves and a Diogo Jota hat-trick helped Wolves secure a routine win over Espanyol in the first leg of the two sides' Europa League Round of 32 clash. 


The hosts got off to the perfect start when Jota volleyed home from close range following a clever flick on from Raul Jimenez.


Wolves continued to have the better of the game but were almost pegged back when Rui Patricio made a near-fatal goalkeeping error midway through the first half. 

Diogo Jota

This scare aside, the Wanderers were comfortably superior and grabbed a second just after the break through a vintage Ruben Neves rocket-volley from well outside the box.


Wolves further extended their lead when Jota doubled his tally by squeezing in a shot from a tight angle. The forward then completed his hat-trick nine minutes from time to cap off a fine win and all but confirm his side's progression to the next round. 


Here's 90min's breakdown of the game...


WOLVES

Key Talking Point 

​With it being Molineux's first taste of European knockout football in almost 40 years, Wolves could have been forgiven for wilting under the lights. 


However the hosts did nothing of the sort, starting the game with great intensity and dominating the early proceedings. 

And then it happened... another absolute screamer from Neves. 


Chesting a high ball onto his right foot the Portuguese midfielder unleashed a powerful, dipping volley that left Andrés Prieto with absolutely no chance. A goal worthy of such a momentous occasion for his club. 


Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Patricio (5); Doherty (6), Boly (6), Coady (6), Saiss (6), Castro (6); Neves (7), Moutinho (7); Adama (6), Jiménez (7), Jota (9*)

Substitutes: Dendoncker (6), Neto (6), Podence (6)


Diogo Jota

Jota has largely existed in Raul Jimenez's shadow over the last few months, but he easily outshone the Mexican this evening. 

Diogo Jota

He took all three of his goals - but particularly the third - very well, taking his tally in the Europa League this season to five. If he can score more consistently in the ​Premier League, he may even overtake Jimenez as the west Midlanders' star man. 



ESPANYOL 

Player Ratings 

Starting XI: Prieto (5); Perea (5), Naldo (5), Calero (4), Vila (5); Melendo (5), Sánchez (4), Iturraspe (5), Vargas (5); Lei (4), Ferreyra (4)

Substitutes: Lopez (5), Calleri (5), Darder (5)


Looking Ahead

Wolves return to domestic action on Sunday when they host basement club Norwich, as their battle to close the gap on the ​Champions League places continues. ​


Espanyol are currently bottom of ​La Liga and will be hoping to aid their survival bid by dispatching of Real Valladolid this weekend.  


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