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Wolves 2 Blues 0 – Report and pictures

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Wolves crowed their promotion to the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Blues at Molineux.

Portuguese forward Diogo Jota netted his 17th of the season when he turned in Matt Doherty's cross in the first half.

Both teams had chances but Wolves' job was made easier when last man Harlee Dean saw red early in the second half for bringing down Helder Costa.

John Ruddy made two good saves and then Benik Afobe sealed the win late on when chipping over the keeper.

Analysis

Whatever the game, whatever the circumstances, Wolves win and keep a clean sheet. That's just what they do.

They could have taken their eye off the ball here after yesterday's promotion celebrations, writes Tim Spiers at Molineux.

And while they were far from perfect they kept their heads (despite plenty of provocation from a physical Blues team) and got the job done in a professional manner.

Not only did they put on the show they wanted to in what was a big local derby at a packed house in front of the watching nation, but they earned the three points that mean they're effectively champions and moved closer to the 100-point mark that the players will crave.

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They have a 12-point lead over Cardiff and the Bluebirds have four games remaining plus an inferior goal difference. That will have to wait for next weekend though when the party will continue into Bolton.

The performance was littered with some of the characteristics that have defined this most fabulous of seasons – 50-yard rakes from Conor Coady, sublime passing from Ruben Neves, great overlaps from Matt Doherty and a goal for top scorer Diogo Jota.

Then Benik Afobe finished it all off with a sumptuous finish, his fifth goal in recent weeks.

The scenes at full time were magnificent. Molineux rose to acclaim their victories soon-to-be champions, Nuno went wild and even the appeals for no pitch invasion worked (bar three idiots).

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Under Fosun you suspect it won't be the last day like this.

Match report

Nuno made one change from the team that beat Derby 2-0 in midweek with Helder Costa replacing Benik Afobe in the front three.

The atmosphere at Molineux was absolutely rocking and the players were greeted onto the field like heroes.

There was a collector's item in the opening minutes when Ruben Neves hit a pass straight out of play – and when Blues almost scored soon after you wondered if it going to be an "after the Lord mayor's show" sort of day.

The reason they didn't score was John Ruddy, who produced an excellent double save. Maxime Colin was in on goal and the keeper saved low before keeping out the follow-up with an acrobatic reflex stop.

Wolves then suffered a blow when Ivan Cavaleiro pulled up lame, feeling his hamstring. He had to be replaced by Leo Bonatini but Wolves soon perked up and began to produce the sort of free-flowing football we've all become accustomed to this season.

It was one such move that led to the opening goal – Romain Saiss picked out the overlapping Matt Doherty whose perfect low cross was tapped in by Diogo Jota for his 17th goal of the campaign.

Thereafter the rest of the half was a tale of Blues trying to stop Wolves play with some questionable fouls. David Davis went in studs-up on Ruben Neves, Helder Costa was wiped out and Diogo Jota was brought down twice as Blues went for the unsubtle approach, which referee Andy Davies failed to keep a lid on.

Bonatini's last goal came against Blues way back on December 4. He'll have been desperate to find the net and tested David Stockdale with a low effort after great work from Costa.

Doherty fired wide from 20 yards and Neves attempted his weekly wondergoal with a couple of shots from range.

It was being played out in a carnival atmosphere. The fans asked for Mendes to wave at them (he didn't oblige) and Nuno too (he did), they sang "we're going to Man City, you're going to Shrewsbury" at the Blues fans and questioned if the teams would ever meet again.

It was a joyous occasion and in the second half Wolves looked to fashion a scoreline to send them home even happier.

Jota got an early chance and fired at the keeper from the left of the box as the home team began the second period with intent.

And their task was made easier on 52 minutes when Blues were reduced to 10 men. The visitors lost possession and suddenly Costa was haring through on goal – Harlee Dean tried to get to the loose ball but Costa got his toe on it first and Dean brought him down 30 yards out. As the last man he had to go.

After Neves bent the resulting free kick just inches past the post Blues galvanised themselves. Ruddy was forced into his second excellent save on the match when he finger-tipped Lukas Jutkiewicz's rasping drive over the bar and then Coady blocked in front of the keeper when Wolves didn't deal with a corner.

Neves was hobbling after taking more than a few kicks throughout the afternoon and he was replaced by Alfred N'Diaye with 20 minutes left on the clock.

Saiss was getting plenty of joy in and around the final third and he could have doubled the lead when being slipped in by Bonatini – it looked as though he was tugged back just before shooting, with the effort easily saved.

Blues substitute Jacques Maghoma curled a free kick over the bar as the visitors again fired another warning sign. And after substitutes Benik Afobe and Bonatini both fired over from the edge of the box, Blues very almost drew level when Ruddy fumbled a save before crucially blocking from Jutkiewicz.

It proved to be a pivotal moment as just seconds later Afobe sealed the win. N'Diaye played him in and the striker netted his fifth goal of the past month and a bit by delicately chipping over the keeper.

It sparked joyous scenes at an adoring Molineux who watched their heroes put the icing on an unforgettable weekend for everyone associated with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Teams

Wolves (3-4-3): John Ruddy; Bennett, Coady (c), Boly; Doherty, Saiss, Neves (N'Diaye, 70), Douglas; Costa, Jota (Afobe, 74), Cavaleiro (Bonatini, 16). Subs: Norris, Batth, Hause, Gibbs-White.

Goals: Jota (22), Afobe (87)

Blues (4-3-2-1): Stockdale; Harding, Morrison (c), Dean, Grounds (Maghoma, 62); Colin, Ndoye (Gardner, 78), Kieftenbeld (Roberts, 54); Davis, Jota; Jutkiewicz. Subs: Kuszczak, Lowe, Dacres-Cogley, Lubula.

Red card: Dean (52)

Attendance: 29,536 (1,987 Blues fans)

Referee: Andy Davies

League position

1st (95 points from 43 matches)

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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