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A match with significant European implications had its pressure ratcheted higher for both Wolverhampton and Burnley ahead of Wednesday's mouth-watering clash at Turf Moor.
The two top-half sides are in the hunt for continental play next season, with Wolves (14-13-8) four points from the fourth and final Champions League spot, and the Clarets (14-8-13) four back of Sheffield for seventh. Both clubs, though, suffered an off-pitch setback in this quest when the Court of Arbitration for Sport stunningly overturned UEFA's two-year ban of European play on Manchester City on Monday, clearing the way for the second-place team in the Premier League to remain in the top club tournament in Europe.
As a result, fifth place no longer automatically provides a path to the Champions League qualifying rounds, but if Manchester City compete a cup treble – they already have won the Carabao Cup, are in the FA Cup semifinals and knockout rounds of the Champions League – it is possible the seventh-place finishers could enter the Europa League qualifying rounds.
And in the case of further oddities for Burnley to achieve the latter result, Sean Dyche's team may end up rooting for Wolverhampton in the Europa League after these 90 minutes since Nuno Espirito Santo's side can still claim a Champions League berth by winning that title.
Wolverhampton finally righted themselves after back-to-back losses, sweeping aside Everton 3-0 at Molineux on Sunday. Nuno made three changes to the side that suffered a discouraging defeat at Sheffield United, and the introduction of Daniel Podence to the first XI paid dividends as he drew a penalty right before halftime that Raul Jimenez converted to give Wolves all the momentum they would need.
Leander Dendoncker scored right after the restart, and Diogo Jota added a third on 74 minutes to reignite Wolves' Champions League aspirations.
"I think we played good. In the first-half I think we still had the same situation as the previous games, we didn't finish the actions, there was always one pass missing, so it's something we have to look at," Nuno told Wolves' official website. "It was very important the timing we scored, at the end of the first-half and beginning of second-half. It's difficult for our opponent to react in that moment and we were able to manage better the game. I'm happy with all the game."
Jimenez netted his 25th goal in all competitions with his conversion from the spot, while Jota ended a seven-match goalless drought with his 14th overall on the season.
"It was an amazing goal," Jimenez said of Jota's strike. "I think Diogo had an opportunity before, but in the second one he didn't miss and he did what he likes to do. I'm very happy for him to score again and we have to keep going like this."
Even with their stoppage-time loss at Bramall Lane, Wolves are still formidable road foes with 27 points and just four losses in 17 matches outside Molineux.
Burnley's impressive run through Project Restart continued Saturday by being the first side to take points off champions Liverpool at Anfield this term with a 1-1 draw. It can be argued the Clarets were worthy of all three points, drawing level through Jay Rodriguez on 69 minutes and having Johann Berg Gudmundsson thump the crossbar three minutes from time.
But even the point would not have been possible without a heroic effort from keeper Nick Pope, who delivered some world-class saves while reminding people he is England's No. 2 with his eyes on the prize.
"The lads in front of me work so hard – it's nice to help out now and again," Pope said to the club's official website. "A lot of the time they're doing the work for me, so it was nice to get a bit of the action. When you go to the big teams you expect to be involved more, away from home at the champions who are full of confidence. But we're not low on confidence ourselves. We came here as a group, maybe not expecting a point but definitely looking for something from the game. That's the way it's been since January for us.
"We really feel we are going into every game with a chance of getting something."
Burnley's lone loss in their last 12 league matches (7-4-1) was their 5-0 hiding administered at Manchester City to open Project Restart. Since then, the Claret have been on lockdown defensively, yielding just two goals to make the most of the five they've netted to go 3-2-0.
The teams played out a 1-1 draw at Molineux in late August, with Jimenez's penalty seven minutes into second-half stoppage time rescuing a point for the hosts. Ashley Barnes had staked Burnley to the lead on 13 minutes.
The Clarets are 3-3-1 in the last seven meetings in all competitions between the sides and have split two previous Premier League matchups at Turf Moor.
Updated July 13, 2020