Crusaders keeper Sean O'Neill (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)


Crusaders produced a memorable performance to slip to only a two-goal defeat to English Premier League side Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Europa League at Molineux.

In front of almost 30,000 fans the Crues fashioned the first notable effort of the game after seven minutes when Rory Hale delivered a dipping volley just wide of the target.

However, as might have been expected, Wolves created almost every opportunity that followed but only succeeded in eventually breaking down the impressively organised Crusaders defence eight minutes before half-time when Diogo Jota turned to beat Sean O'Neill after connecting with Adama Traoré's cross.

Jota might have doubled Wolves' lead just before the break only to be denied by an O'Neill save with his legs.

It was a pattern that followed into the second half with Wolves again enjoying large periods of possession but finding the visiting rearguard a tough nut to crack.

Teenager Morgan Gibbs-White did come close just after the hour with a downward header which fell just the wrong side of the post.

But, just as it looked Crusaders would trail by just the one goal going into next Thursday's return at Seaview, substitute Rúben Vinagre made the most of a touch of good fortune to tap the ball home at the back post three minutes into stoppage time.

Wolverhampton Wanderers: Rui Patricio, Bennett, Rúben Neves, Boly, Coady, Gibbs-White, Diogo Jota, Jonny Castro, João Moutinho, Dendoncker, Adama Traoré subs Ruddy (not used), Jiménez (replaced Rúben Neves 58), Sanderson (not used), Perry (not used), Saïss (replaced Gibbs-White 85), Rúben Vinagre (replaced Jonny Castro 64), Kilman (not used)

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Hegarty, Lowry, Ward, Rr. Hale, Caddell, Forsythe, O'Rourke, Heatley, Clarke subs H. Doherty (not used), Beverland (not used), Rn. Hale (not used), Cushley (replaced Rr. Hale 82), Ruddy (not used), J. Owens (replaced Clarke 61), Thompson (replaced Caddell 67) 

Tags:  Crusaders