Wolves 1 (Sako 43)
Sheffield Wednesday 0
Bakary Sako’s ferocious free-kick shortly before the break proved to be the deciding factor in Wolves’ game with Sheffield Wednesday. The Molineux side’s victory was their fourth in succession in the League and it took them up to third in the Championship table.
As expected, Ståle Solbakken made wholesale changes following the midweek trip to Chelsea with Razak Bokari the only member of the starting eleven at Stamford Bridge retaining his place.
Wolves kicked-off attacking the South Bank end and they could have been a goal down inside the first two minutes. Michail Antonio stumbled under a challenge from Stephen Ward in the area. But he regained his balance and fired an angled shot narrowly over the bar before appealing for a penalty.
The visitors made a lively start to the game and Nejc Pecnik hit the side netting after he had run into the left hand side of the box. The first threat from Wanderers came in the seventh minute when the Wednesday defence failed to clear their lines and Kevin Doyle shot narrowly over from 20-yards.
From a Sako corner the ball was played back to Boukari whose low, goalbound drive bounced clear off an unwitting defender. Moments later Boukari needed treatment after a tackle from Anthony Gardner.
Boukari returned to the fray but, after Chris O’Grady had headed weakly at Carl Ikeme from Antonio’s cross, he limped off to be replaced by Slawomir Peszko.
Christophe Berra was yellow carded after an innocuous looking challenge on Jose Semedo, and then Sako unleashed a tremendous shot from fully 30 yards out that was fingertipped over the bar by Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland.
The referee and linesman both indicated a goal kick – one of several decisions made by the officials that had tested the patience of the home support.
Two more long distance shots saw Wolves going close to opening their account. First Doyle drilled a low drive inches wide, and then Sako curled one over after Peszko had pulled the ball back to him.
Jermaine Johnson was booked for fouling Sylvan Ebanks-Blake three yards outside the visitors area. The referee then took the name of Sako for taking the free-kick without waiting for the whistle. But when Sako retook the kick, his low shot skimmed across the surface and into the corner of the net.
Half-Time: Wolves 1 Sheffield Wednesday 0
Doyle, who like Ebanks-Blake, was working tirelessly up front, turned his marker and fed his co-striker whose drive whistled narrowly wide.
In a rare Wednesday attack, Joe Mattock tried his luck from distance but he was way off the mark before, in the 63rd minute, a fine move saw Wolves almost doubling their advantage.
Ward’s cross was cleared only as far as Kevin Foley and his cushioned header fell at the feet of Peszko who raced into the box and hit an angled drive inches over the bar.
Sako shot into the side netting in a half of few clear cut chances with both sides making changes as the game progressed. For Wolves Björn Sigurdarson came on for Ebanks-Blake and, in stoppage time, Danny Batth had a few moments playing against the team he enjoyed a healthy loan spell with.
Wanderers held on comfortably during the four minutes of added time during which Karl Henry was off target from 25-yards.
Wolves: Ikeme, Foley, Ward, Henry (capt), Berra, R. Johnson, Boukari (Peszko 14), Doumbis, Ebanks-Blake (Sigurdarson 83), Doyle (Batth 90+2), Sako.
Unused subs: De Vries, Edwards, Stearman, Davis.
Bookings: Berra (17 – foul), Sako (42 – talking free-kick before whistle).
Owls: Kirkland, Mattock, Taylor (capt), Gardner, Barkley, Bothroyd (Rodri 76), O’Grady, Semedo, J. Johnson, Pecnik (Mayor 64), Antonio.
Unused subs: Bywater, Jones, Llera, Corry, Madine.
Booking: Johnson (41 – foul).
Referee: S. Hooper.