Clutching Chicken Tikka wraps in one hand, polishing Sir Jack’s bronzed shoe for good luck with the other, those befuddled Espanyol fans must have wondered what world they’d entered.
Swapping paella for pork scratchings and La Rambla for the ring road, a parallel universe might have felt about right.
If it didn’t before kick-off, then it must have come the 52nd minute when Ruben Neves transported us back to the Land of Milk and Honey with one of those sweet, sweet strikes belonging of another paradigm.
Cooing the ball from the chill Black Country air onto the cushion of his boot, our hypnotist stopped all the clocks with his tuneful right Tiempo, whistling the ball through the night sky into the bosom of the South Bank net. It was such a beautiful moment that if you stared to long, you’d probably break down and cry.
That sweet child of ours; displaying enough grace to paint a picture and enough brute force to collectively uppercut those Espanyol fans at the same time.
Once we were brought back down to earth again, our hearts were full and Espanyol’s were broken and our minds drifted back to that crazy Championship year – signature Neves moment v Derby and all. Our team seemed to take a leaf out of their predecessor’s book, blitzing the opposition with a lethal power surge to kill the game off like we used to so often, having rope-a-doped them onto us for a deceiving passage of play.
Following Ruben’s otherworldly effort, Diogo Jota cashed in with a near post finish and with fans thinking ahead to those lagers in Barca (while the Albion folk are back home?!), they could soon contemplate an even sweeter taste, with a sublime Jota finish to completely kill the tie less than 15 minutes later – completing a hat-trick after first half strike.
A four goal lead means that those lucky souls on the planes to Spain can indulge in the most comfortable manner possible with little to worry about but the price of the average Estrella.
It will sure look good when sipped in Catalonia’s gothic surrounds, which was meant to be the most stunning vision of all…
…Until a Thursday night in Wolverhampton when Ruben painted another masterpiece.