Story of the game
After the struggles of the global Coronavirus pandemic in recent weeks, there were serious question marks as to whether this fixture would go ahead.
Due to the virus, the game was played behind closed doors, resulting in the home side not gaining too much of an advantage.
The game started slowly with both sides struggling to keep the ball and dominate the game. Nuno Espirito Santo’s side looked to use the pace of Adama Traore and Diogo Jota in the wide areas to create chances as they have been doing all season, but in the early stages had little success.
Just before the half-hour mark, Olympiacos’ Ruben Semedo received a straight red card for a challenge on Jota, when running through on goal. Semedo made no attempt for the ball, and due to being the last man saw a red card leaving the hosts with 10 men for the final hour of the match.
To describe the first half as “dull” would have been an understatement, with the only notable event being the red card of Ruben Semedo. Both sides struggled to get going and neither tested the opposition goalkeeper.
As the second half got underway, Nuno made a change that would have confused a few of the Wolves fans watching at home. Adama Traore was moved to wing-back, allowing substitute Pedro Neto to play further up the pitch, after coming on for Matt Doherty.
Olympiacos took the lead in the 53rd minute through El Arabi after a slick passing move from the hosts.
Excellent work from Guilherme to get to the Wolves bye line and pull it back for the unmarked Moroccan at the back post who couldn’t miss from 6 yards out.
Wolves hit back almost instantly as Raul Jimenez was played through by Pedro Neto, but his shot cannoned straight into the face of Olympiacos goalkeeper Jose Sa, only to then be cleared before any Wolves played could reach the rebound.
The visitors did find a way back into the game through substitute Pedro Neto. Joao Moutinho played a free-kick short to Neto, who tried his luck from 25 yards out and his deflected shot beat goalkeeper Jose Sa.
With 20 minutes left in the game, it was all to play for at Karaiskakis Stadium.
The English side were the side that looked as if they were going to win it, having a couple of half-chances as the game came to a close, but they couldn’t find a way through a stern Olympiacos defence in the second half.
The game finished 1-1, which means the return leg at The Molineux will be even more anticipated by the Wolves fans than it was when the draw was done.
Looking forward to the second leg
Looking forward to the second leg at Molineux, Wolves will be the favourites to progress into the next round having scored an away goal. Many Wolves fans would have taken a draw in this game, as they know how good they have been at home since Nuno took the helm.
Wolves travel to West Ham United on Sunday before preparing for the second leg of this tie, whereas Olympiacos have a tough game against PAOK before facing Wolves again on Thursday 19th March.
Behind closed doors.
Due to the recent outbreak of the Coronavirus, the game was played behind closed doors to try and reduce the spread of the disease. The effects of there being no crowd in the stadium was clear to see, especially in the first half of the match.
Both sides were slow on the ball and looked as if they had very little to play for, despite the game being a knockout match in the Europa League.
With the score going into the second settled at 1 - 1, the crowd at Molineux will be vital for Wolves if they are to progress into the next round of the competition.
No Semedo for Olympiacos.
In the second leg, Olympiacos will be without one of their mainstays in the side, centre back Semedo after picking up a straight red card in this game. He will be a huge miss for the Greek side as he has 35 times for them this season.
The decision came after Semedo stopped Wolves winger Jota from running through on goal by blocking his path, midway through the first half.
A player with that much experience throughout the season will be a huge miss for the Greek table toppers in the second leg, especially having to go away from home.