A Gong For Europe

Ruben Neves – special strike v Espanyol.

Goal-Hungry Wolves Keep Their Eyes On The Big Prize

Wolves should have been playing at Villa last weekend and, in normal circumstances, would have been welcoming Arsenal to Molineux this Monday. Boy, this inactivity is biting.

So is it time to give the pot a stir and keep things bubbling for when the action does finally resume?

A reminder of where we were before the break: Wolves had arrived in new territory thanks to the Europa League – and the goals were flying in like they were going out of fashion.

Christmas wasn’t even upon us before they had used their first entry into the competition to rattle comfortably past the handsome scoring tally achieved by the club when Bill McGarry’s attack-minded side reached the UEFA Cup final in 1971-72.

And another landmark was achieved with the first-leg crushing of Espanyol when Wolves played their 13th Europa game – more than they had ever previously played in a European campaign.

That total has since climbed to 15 as a result of the return in Barcelona and away game against Olympiacos and their goal tally in this thrilling adventure across the continent now stands at a scarcely believable 37. Such statistics will do more than anything to keep our appetites whetted for the return to action.

Forty-eight seasons ago, McGarry’s men played six two-leg ties and scored 27 times along the way. Nuno’s 2019-20 vintage are netting at the rate of 2.5 goals per match in their thrilling journey.

It is stunning progress for a club who had been absent from such stages for almost four full decades and who will again be seen as feared opponents whenever football kicks off again.

Another small breakthrough has been achieved in the process this time, with 12 members of Nuno’s squad appearing on the Europa score-sheet so far compared with the nine different Wolves players, headed by Derek Dougan, who shared the goals in 1971-72.

Both teams (have) also benefitted from a handful of own goals from harassed opponents.

The Doog, who overtook Peter Broadbent as Wolves’ top European marksman, made club history by netting nine times in that memorable campaign but is now only level on that mark with two of the current crop.

Derek Dougan – scourge of Continental defences in the early 1970s

Raul Jimenez had already joined him, then Diogo Jota arrived on the same figure after subjecting Espanyol to his second successive European hat-trick.

Dougan hit a treble in the 4-1 away win over Academica Coimbra and also scored against Belenenses and Locomotiv Leipzig in 1973-74 and Porto 12 months later.

His club record of 12 European goals is now in obvious danger with at least one Europa match still to come this season – and hopefully several more.

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