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Wolves make Euro history with Pyunik win – report

Wolves 4 (Neto 55, Gibbs-White 58, Vinagre 64, Jota 88) FC Pyunik 0 (8-0 on aggregate)

Much-changed Wolves completed the job and made history against FC Pyunik to secure a glamour Europa League play-off against Torino.

Two goals in four second-half minutes ended any concerns as to the destiny of this tie as debutant Pedro Neto scored the first goal and set up the second for Morgan Gibbs-White’s first competitive goal as the hosts made light of the nine changes made by head coach Nuno Espirito Santo.

Ruben Vinagre made it 3-0 on the night as the floodgates opened for Nuno’s side before substitute Diogo Jota left the best until last with a stunning scissors kick.

Torino drew 1-1 at FC Shakhtyor to go through 6-1 on aggregate which means they will play Wolves in Turin next Thursday in the first leg of the play-off, with the return a week later.

The result means Wolves created another bit of club history, as the 8-0 aggregate win was their biggest in European competition, overtaking the 7-1 victories in the 1971-72 UEFA Cup run to the final against Academica Coimbra and FC Den Haag in the first and second rounds respectively.

Nuno introduced four full debutants – new signings Jesus Vallejo, Patrick Cutrone and Neto, plus Under-23s graduate Max Kilman – as Rui Patricio, Ryan Bennett, Willy Boly, Matt Doherty, Jonny Castro Otto, Leander Dendoncker, Ruben Neves, Raul Jimenez and Jota made way for the four new boys plus John Ruddy, Adama Traore, Morgan Gibbs-White, Romain Saiss and Ruben Vinagre.

The second half was in contrast to the first where the home side wasted six openings without troubling Pyunik goalkeeper Andrija Dragojevic.

In a tentative start, Neto fired a low left-foot drive wide after cutting in from the right, before Cutrone hooked well over the bar from 15 yards after Pyunik failed to clear a corner. Neto then floated a curling effort high over the bar as Wolves pressed for the breakthrough.

Saiss came closest at that point when he floated a free kick inches wide after Joao Moutinho was fouled 20 yards out. Moutinho then teed up Cutrone for a glancing header that flew wide before the Italian striker went alone, controlling Vallejo’s long pass, and beating his man only to blaze over.

The impressive Gibbs-White forced the first serious save of the match in the 51st minute when Dragojevic blocked his angled drive from close range after Traore spotted his run behind and split the defence.

But Wolves didn’t have long to wait to break the deadlock. And it was a move involving three of the summer signings. Neto slid in to convert Cutrone’s low cross after he chased down Vallejo’s long pass. Three minutes later it was 2-0 when Neto turned provider, crossing from the left for Gibbs-White to get across the defender and sweep home at the near post from close range.

Vinagre tapped into the roof of the net for his second European goal for the club after Traore’s run and cross as Wolves increased the aggregate scoreline to 7-0.

If that wasn’t enough, on came the main artillery in Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, for Cutrone and Neto in the 72nd minute.

Wolves were running riot now and it was just a question of how many they would score. Vinagre’s angled shot was palmed away after Gibbs-White found Jota to his left and he teed up the wing back on the overlap.

Nuno’s side weren’t finished and, much to the delight of the 29,391 crowd, they made it 4-0 on the night with the goal of the tie. Jimenez flicked the ball up and Jota, on the half turn, produced a stunning scissors kick that flew past Dragojevic into the far corner of the net.

Wolves (3-5-2): Ruddy; Vallejo, Coady, Kilman; Traore, Saiss, Moutinho (Dendoncker 52), Gibbs-White, Vinagre; Cutrone (Jimenez 72), Neto (Jota 72).

Subs not used: Patricio, Bennett, Neves, Jonny.

Booked: Vallejo (27, foul).

FC Pyunik (4-5-1): Dragojevic; Stankov, Belov, Zhestokov, Manucharyan; Efimov (Galimov 65), Simonyan (Edigaryan 72), Mkrtchyan, Vardanyan, Shevchuk (Mahmudov 75); Miranyan.

Subs not used: Kobozev, Grigoryan, Marku, Burzanovic.

Referee: Donatus Rumsas (Lithuania).

Attendance: 29,391.