Nottingham Forest 0
Wolves 2 (Costa 40, Cavaleiro 79)
Wolves sent their supporters home in a festive mood thanks to a fully merited 2-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground with Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro the men on the mark.
Head Coach Paul Lambert made four changes following the midweek defeat at Cardiff. Carl Ikeme returned from injury in place of Harry Burgoyne, and Conor Coady played at right-back instead of Dominic Iorfa. There were also places for Jack Price and Bright Enobakhare with George Saville and Romain Saiss joining Burgoyne and Iorfa on the bench.
Wolves kicked-off attacking the Trent End with 2,000 of their supporters urging them on and an early attack featuring Matt Doherty and Enobakhare petered out when Cavaleiro was flagged offside.
Wanderers were looking the more promising in the opening exchanges without creating any clear cut chances. The first corner went the way of Forest with Richard Stearman booting the ball clear from a crowded six-yard box from Ben Osborn’s kick.
Price went into the book for a late challenge on Matty Cash and, from the resultant free-kick taken by Apostolos Vellios, there was a spell of ‘head tennis’ in front of Ikeme’s goal before the ball was finally cleared upfield.
Michael Mancienne ran in and powered a header inches over the bar following a cross from Mustapha Carayol, before Vellios was yellow carded for an untidy challenge on Danny Batth..
A short cross from Cavaleiro just ran away from the incoming Doherty, and when Costa controlled a Cavaleiro cross with his back to the goal, he teed up Enobakhare who charged in but was way too high with his effort from the edge of the box.
Wolves took the lead in the 40th minute after a fine individual effort from Costa who cut in from the right and from an acute angle lifted his shot into the roof of the net leaving keeper Vladimir Stoikovic helpless.
Forest were close to equalising three minutes later as Ben Osborn hooked Cash’s cross wide but uncomfortably close to the far post.
With the last kick of the half, home skipper Matt Mills drilled a 20-yard drive straight into the arms of Ikeme.
Half-Time: Forest 0 Wolves 1
There was a chance for Osborn to level matters in the 54th minute but he put the ball the wrong side of the near post as he ran in on Carayol’s low cross from the left.
Enobakhare was tripped by Mills right on the 18-yard line. Although the striker fell into the box, the referee awarded the free-kick on the line and after Mills had been booked, Costa’s free-kick was taken by Stoikovic.
Forest then made two changes with David Vaughan replacing Jorge Grant and Hildeberto Pereira went on for Carayol.
Twice in a five minute spell Cavaleiro threatened the Forest goal. He was a fraction too high after a long-range effort before he fired into the side netting from a tight angle after Doherty had set up the chance.
Wolves first change of the afternoon saw Saiss going on in place of Enobakhare.
From a Costa cross, Coady’s header was caught underneath the bar by Stoikovic and then Doherty went into the book for obstructing Pajtim Kasami.
In the 79th minute Coady’s winning tackle on Osborn began the move that led to a second goal for the visitors. Dave Edwards and Costa combined to set up Cavaleiro who made no mistake with a low shot from the edge of the box.
In the closing minutes Wolves sent Connor Ronan and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson on for Costa and Nouha Dicko respectively. It was Ronan’s first senior outing and the youngster soon got involved showing confidence and ability in the closing minutes as Wolves held out comfortably to record their second away win of the month.
Forest: Stojkovic, Lichaj, Mancienne, Mills (capt), Osborn, Carayol (Pereira 61), Kasami (Lica 80), Grant (Vaughan 59), Vellios, Cash, Worrall.
Unused subs: Hobbs, Henderson, Ahmedhodzic, Dumitru-Cardoso
Bookings: Vellios (32 – foul), Mills (57 – foul).
Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Coady, Edwards, Stearman, Batth (capt), Costa (Ronan 81), Price, Dicko (Bodvarsson 83), Enobakhare (Saiss 69), Cavaleiro.
Unused subs: Burgoyne, Saville, Iorfa, Hause.
Bookings: Price (27 – foul), Doherty (78 – foul), Cavaleiro (79 – goal celebration).
Referee: G. Scott.