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Report: Wolves denied victory in Braga – but what about that first half?!

Braga 3 (Andre Horta 6, Paulinho 64, Fransergio 79) Wolves 3 (Jimenez 13, Doherty 34, Traore 35)

Wolves produced one of their most scintillating halves of football under Nuno Espirito Santo as they clinched the point they needed to qualify for the Europa League knockout stages for the first time.

Raul Jimenez scored his 15th goal of the season and set up the other two for Matt Doherty and Adama Traore in a mesmeric first 45 minutes as Wolves came from behind to lead Braga 3-1 at half-time at the Estadio Municipal de Braga.

Braga, who led through Andre Horta, hit back in the last 26 minutes to claim a point through Paulinho and Fransergio, but the result means Wolves will continue their European exploits in 2020 as they extended their unbeaten record to 12 matches in the Premier League and Europa League.

A point behind leaders Braga, Nuno’s men are guaranteed at least second place in Group K with only one game remaining and a six-point gap to third-placed Slovan Bratislava.

Wolves’ impact on the game was shown in the match statistics – they had 15 attempts on goal to Braga’s five, bossed possession 53 per cent to 47 and boasted 50 more passes.

But they had no answer to conceding again to the Portuguese side, just as they did at Molineux.

This time Andre Horta opened Braga’s account after six minutes after brother Ricardo netted the only goal at Molineux. The midfielder took a pass from left back Nuno Sequeira before unleashing a long-range effort on a wet surface which deflected into the top corner off Ruben Neves.

In the corresponding fixture, Wolves wasted plenty of chances to get back into the game, but this time they had a quick response, equalising after 13 minutes.

Jonny surged down the left on to Joao Moutinho’s fine pass and the wing back produced a superb left-footed cross for Jimenez to nod the ball from where it had came, across goalkeeper Eduardo, giving him no chance.

The in-form Mexico international has now scored in seven goals in his last eight games in all competitions – but he turned provider for Wolves’ other goals.

However first the visitors, in their all black change kit, had some defending to do. A poor pass from Romain Saiss was intercepted by Paulinho, who galloped away down the right only to fire a cross shot some distance over the bar.

Wolves returned to the attack and Traore produced a determined run, taking on Brazilian centre back Wallace before flashing a centre across goal that Diogo Jota couldn’t quite reach as he slid in at the far post.

The right wing was again proving a busy supply line for Wolves and Jota was unfortunate again in their next attack as Eduardo snatched Doherty’s byeline cross out of the air as the forward prepared to pounce.

Jota finally got a chance to show what he could do when he raced forward in the inside left channel, chested the ball down and took a touch before driving an angled shot wide when he might have had more joy shooting a fraction earlier before the angle reduced.

He needn’t have worried though as Wolves went ahead with their next foray in the 29th minute – and what a lovely goal it was.

Jimenez received the ball on the left and turned inside his marker, dribbling across the pitch before spotting a superb run by the unmarked Doherty, who met his chip over the defence with a downward header that bounced in front of Eduardo on its way in.

Just 82 seconds later Wolves were in dreamland as they made it 3-1. Jimenez was again the architect, this time finding Traore who was already motoring menacingly down the right. The Spaniard flier took a touch past Wallace before rifling a fierce right-footed drive through Eduardo.

Wolves tried to pick up where they left off after the break and Jota’s header was pushed away by Eduardo, who soon denied Jimenez’s shot on the turn with a more routine stop.

But those missed chances by Wolves always meant they ran the risk of allowing Braga back into the game – and so it proved.

Paulinho was allowed to tap the ball into an empty net in the 64th minute after Galeno’s cross found him from close range.

Braga levelled 11 minutes from time when Fransergio rose highest to plant home a header from a cross when Wolves failed to clear a corner.

But Wolves held on and had done enough to ensure they left Portugal undefeated and with their European dream intact.

Braga (4-4-2): Eduardo; Esgaio, B Viana, Wallace (W Eduardo 58), Sequeira; Fransergio, Palhinha, A Horta, R Horta (Fonte 73); Paulinho (Santos 86), Galeno.

Subs not used: Matheus, Agbo, D Viana, Novais.

Wolves (3-4-3): Patricio; Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Traore (Vinagre 75), Jimenez (Neto 69), Jota (Cutrone 79).

Subs not used: Ruddy, Vallejo, Kilman, Otasowie.