Wolverhampton Wanderers were the epitome of professionalism in their Europa League qualifying clash against FC Pyunik on Thursday night, pressing high, working hard and scoring for fun in Armenia.
In recent years, the likes of Burnley and West Ham have fallen before even reaching the group stages of the Europa League but there was no danger of Wolves repeating their mistakes in Eastern Europe.
Nuno Espirito Santo put out a full strength side and he was rewarded with a ruthless performance, Raul Jimenez scoring twice while Matt Doherty and Ruben Neves also found the net. Connor Coady produced a typically tenacious performance in defence while Diogo Jota grabbed three assists too.
No wonder Tarkhanov was impressed.
“This was a good experience for FC Pyunik. The opponent has high-class footballers who play in the national teams of their respective countries,” the Russian said.
“We had the most powerful opponent, which can also compete to win in the Europa League.”
Wolves certainly seem to be taking the Europa League seriously and rightly so. Far too many teams see the competition as a distraction and don’t appreciate the potential once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in front of them. A half-full Turf Moor for last year’s final qualifying round clash between Burnley and Olympiakos was particularly baffling.
But if Wolves continue in the same vein, there’s no reason why they cannot compete for a continental trophy in a few months’ time.
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