Wolves 4 Besiktas 0
Diogo Jota came off the bench to score an 11-minute hat-trick as Wolves produced a second-half goalfest to thrash Besiktas 4-0 at Molineux.
The 23-year-old broke the deadlock in the 58th minute – 77 seconds after his arrival – and was effectively picking up the matchball 10 minutes later after making it five goals in a week following his brace at Brighton.
Leander Dendoncker grabbed the other after earlier hitting the post as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side dominated in the second half following a forgettable first period.
Jota scored the first treble by a Wolves player in Europe since Derek Dougan against Academica Coimbra in 1971-72, sealing a hugely impressive run in Europe which has brought 10 wins and a draw from 12 games this season.
But it wasn’t enough to top the group and earn Wolves seeded status after leaders Sporting Club Braga won 4-2 at Slovan Bratislava to win group K spot.
Wolves’ proud record never looked in any danger as they dominated throughout against a team who couldn’t qualify.
Head coach Nuno made seven changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Brighton on Sunday, handing European debuts to John Ruddy, Max Kilman and Oskar Buur, and also recalling Ryan Bennett, Ruben Vinagre, Patrick Cutrone and Pedro Neto at the expense of Rui Patricio, and Romain Saiss, Matt Doherty, Jonny Castro Otto, Adama Traore, Jota, while Raul Jimenez was suspended.
Yet he kept an experienced midfield, naming his regular central pairing of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho alongside Dendoncker.
Besiktas, who couldn’t qualify, also rested several players ahead of a Super Lig game on Sunday that gave them the chance of a seventh straight league win and cementing second place.
But the Turkish side, who are second in their domestic league, failed to match the shine of their silver shirts.
Moutinho caught the eye in the early stages. In the 18th minute, the midfielder danced through the Besiktas defence to put Patrick Cutrone through to steer past goalkeeper Utku Yuvakuran but was flagged offside.
Neves had the next chance, but his curling free kick sailed straight at ‘keeper Yuvakuran.
The same midfielder was presented with the only other shooting chance of the half three minutes before the interval.
But the Portuguese could only blaze high over the bar after Oskar Buur touched back fellow wing back Ruben Vinagre’s cross.
Wolves began the second half with more urgency and on the rampage.
Pedro Neto took a short corner from Moutinho but could curled his shot high over the bar.
Dendoncker had the next opening as he met Vinagre’s inviting cross, but rather than going for goal, he nodded the ball back across goal, with no one to apply the final touch.
The inspired arrival of Jota came next – and things quickly changed.
Within two minutes of his arrival, he netted with a downward header after Neto twisted inside Erdogan Kaya and Oguzhan Ozyakup before crossing from the right after Cutrone’s flick put him in the clear.
The unlucky Dendoncker volleyed against the post from another Moutinho corner but he needn’t have worried as Wolves’ and Jota’s goals charge continued.
Jota tapped home his and the team’s second on 63 after Dendoncker’s long-range drive had been tipped on to the post.
Four minutes later it was 3-0 when Dendoncker finally got on the scoresheet, heading home Moutinho’s outswinging corner.
Jota made it 4-0 in the 68th minute, sweeping home Oskar Buur’s cross at the far post.
It was the stuff of dreams for Wolves supporters – and it almost got better when debutant Owen Otasowie, coming off the bench, headed Vinagre’s cross against the bar.
But all the talk will be about Jota – and rightly so. His second hat-trick, after netting three in the 4-3 win over Leicester last January, had fans scratching their heads to recall such a quick hat-trick by a Wolves substitute.
Steve Bull never did it as a replacement but might have scored one of his 18 trebles in that sort of time.
John Richards scored all three goals after coming off the bench as Wolves beat Charlton 3-0 in the FA Cup in 1976.
But without trawling the record books, it’s not known by this author if anyone else has done it.
Wolves (3-5-2): Ruddy 6; Bennett 7, Coady 7, Kilman 7; Buur 7, Dendoncker 8, Neves 7 (Jota 56 minutes 9), Moutinho 8 (Perry 70 minutes, 6), Vinagre 8; Cutrone 7, Neto 8.
Substitutes: Sondegaard, Vallejo, Cundle, Richards.
Besiktas (4-2-3-1): Yuvakuran 5; Kalafat 5, Uysal 4, Kaya 5, Rebocho 6; Secgin 5, Ozyakup 5; Lens 5 (Diaby 81 minutes 5), Yalcin 5 (Elneny 64 minutes 5), Boyd 5; Nayir 5.
Substitutes: Destanoglu, Ozkan, Roco, Isler, Yilmaz.
Referee: Andris Treimanis (Latvia).