Middlesbrough 2 (Ramirez 24, 56)
Wolves 1 (Gibson own goal 89)
A late own goal from Ben Gibson wasn’t enough for Wolves to stave off defeat against a Middlesbrough side that went to the top of the Championship table thanks to a brace from Gaston Ramirez.
Wolves, unchanged following the victory over Derby County, kicked-off on a wet, windy and bitterly cold night in the north east.
There was less than two minutes on the clock when Albert Adomah burst into the area and drove an angled shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Adomah wasn’t quite as close with his next attempt from long range before Tomas Kalas fired over the angle also from distance.
A Ramirez free-kick taken from wide on the right was headed behind by Ethan Ebanks-Landell for the first of two Boro corners as the home side made all the early running.
Jeremy Helan won Wolves’ first corner of the night and Nathan Byrne’s kick had the home defence at sixes and sevens before the ball went out on the far side.
Ebanks-Blake was forced from the game in the 19th minute after he had taken a knock. He limped off to be replaced by Kortney Hause.
Conor Coady broke from the halfway line with Bjorn Sigurdarson to his left and Byrne to his right. Coady opted for Byrne playing the ball into his path but a defender got back to block the winger’s low drive.
Dominic Iorfa was booked for pulling back Ramirez and although the free-kick was cleared, the danger wasn’t and when Adam Clayton lifted the ball back into the box, Ramirez ran in at the back stick to head Boro into a 24th minute lead.
A brief spell of Wolves pressure ended with Byrne shooting high over the bar from 22-yards before Ramirez tested Carl Ikeme with a curling shot from outside the box.
Whilst chances had been few and far between, the half undoubtedly belonged to promotion chasing Boro.
Half-Time: Boro 1 Wolves 0
It took a superb save from Ikeme just 20 seconds into the new half to prevent a second as he turned over a powerful eight-yard header from Jordan Rhodes after Adomah had delivered a curling centre.
Byrne tried to set up Sigurdarson but a home boot cleared the danger and then Hause made a fine tackle to halt Emilio Nsue’s progress towards Ikeme’s goal.
But the keeper was beaten in the 56th minute with Ramirez again the man doing the damage. The Uruguayan, on loan from Southampton, took a return pass from George Friend and, from ten-yards, and to the left of goal, curled the ball beyond the dive of Ikeme and just inside the far post.
With the half approaching the midway stage, Kenny Jackett made a change sending Mason on for Byrne.
There was a glimmer of hope for the visitors when Sigurdarson beat his marker on a run to the by-line. He pulled the ball back to Coady but his diving header, from the edge of the box, lacked power and was cleared.
Adomah was booked for a clumsy challenge on Sigurdarson but Mason’s free-kick was high and wide. The recent signing then hit an angled drive that Demi Konstantopoulos fumbled behind at his near post.
After Kevin McDonald had been booked for kicking the ball away after conceding a free-kick, a great tackle by Matt Doherty prevented an almost certain goal from Rhodes who was otherwise through.
Ikeme saved at Rhodes’s feet in Boro’s next attack and then Helan cut in after a run down the left flank and hit a shot that was deflected onto the roof of Konstantopoulos’s net.
With a little over a minute of the 90 remaining, Wolves grabbed a consolation goal as Gibson headed into his own net under pressure from Mason after an excellent cross from Doherty.
Boro: Konstantopoulos, Friend (capt), Gibson, Clayton, Rhodes, Stuani, Ramirez (De Sart 88), Nsue, Kalas, Adomah, Forshaw.
Unused subs: Agazzi, De Laet, Downing, Fry, Sola, Nugent.
Booking: Adomah (67 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Iorfa, Saville, Batth (capt), Ebanks-Landell (Hause 19), Byrne (Mason 65), Coady, Sigurdarson, McDonald (Price 79), Helan.
Unused subs: Martinez, Deslandes, Le Fondre, Hunte.
Bookings: Iorfa (23 – foul), McDonald (72 – unsporting behaviour).
Referee: S. Attwell.
Attendance: 22,110 (291 away supporters).