Second half goals seal great performance
Wolves 2 (Jota 55, Bonatini 71)
Aston Villa 0
Wolves moved to the top of the Championship table after a tremendous display against local rivals Aston Villa in front of the television cameras
There were two changes to the home starting line-up with Ryan Bennett and Rubin Vinagre dropping down to the bench. In came Barry Douglas and, back from a one game suspension, Conor Coady.
Molineux was packed and the atmosphere electric as Villa kicked-off attacking the South Bank end of the ground.
Alan Hutton’s foul on Ivan Cavaleiro gave Wolves a free-kick wide on the right. It was taken by Cavaleiro and half cleared back to him. When he returned the ball into the danger area Romain Saiss’s header was deflected behind for a corner.
Robert Snodgrass’s low cross went behind Jonathan Kodjia as Villa went forward and then there was a brief hold up whilst the referee lectured Roderick Miranda and Kodjia who had clashed in midfield.
In the 11th minute Diogo Jota’s excellent through ball sent Helder Costa on the way to goal but, as he was about to pull the trigger he was dispossessed by Hutton’s perfectly timed tackle.
Snodgrass went into the book for a crude challenge on Cavaleiro on the touchline to the left of the Villa goal. Douglas lifted the free-kick into the middle and Danny Batth powered a header wide of the far post.
The next attack saw Costa pulling the ball back for Ruben Neves whose drive clipped a defender as it went behind. From Cavaleiro’s flag-kick Kodjia appeared to catch Costa in the face with his boot as he attempted to clear but the referee waved play on.
The official also turned down Villa penalty appeals after Miranda and Kodjia tangled just inside the home area.
Jota took the ball from inside his own half to the Villa box where his final shot struck a defender and went behind. From Cavaleiro’s corner there was a clash of heads between Batth and James Chester – the Villa defender needing treatment before he could continue.
Miranda then skimmed the side netting with a vicious 20-yard drive after he had been teed up by Cavaleiro.
In the 37th minute, from all of 30-yards, Neves struck a dipping, swirling shot that keeper Sam Johnstone spectacularly turned behind.
Just before the break Wolves broke from a Villa corner and during the move Conor Hourihane tripped Cavaleiro. The referee waved play on and after the ball had been cleared out of play, he yellow carded the midfielder.
Half-Time: Wolves 0 Villa 0
Leo Bonatini was an interval replacement for Costa.
Wolves carried on from where they had finished the first-half – playing attractive, possession football and forcing the visitors back.
And they were finally rewarded in the 55th minute. Cavaleiro’s low cross fell to Jota who swept past Ahmed Elmohamady before rifling an unstoppable shot beyond Johnstone.
Matt Doherty picked out Jota four minutes later but this time his drive from the edge of the box just beat the near post.
Villa made a change after 64 minutes sending on Scott Hogan for Keinan Davis.
Hutton did well to block Cavaleiro’s shot at point-blank range after Jota’s lofted pass, but when he blocked from Jota in the 71st minute, the ball ran to Bonatini who squeezed it between Johnstone and the near post in front of a delighted South Bank.
When Villa replaced Albert Adomah with Josh Onomah, Nuno also made a change sending Ben Marshall on for Cavaleiro who received a tremendous ovation as he left the field.
In the 77th minute came an incredible piece of football as Wolves has three chances in a five seconds spell. First Johnstone scooped out Jota’s header from Doherty’s cross and when the ball fell to Bonatini, his first shot came back off the keeper and the second off Chester before the overworked Villa defence finally cleared.
Another double substitution followed with Alfred N’Diaye taking over from Neves and, for Villa Callum O’Hare went on for Kodjia.
In the 83rd minute, Snodgrass’s free-kick from the edge of the box struck the bar before being cleared and, in stoppage time, Marshall jinked his way into a scoring position but fired straight at Johnstone.
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, Miranda, Batth (capt), Coady, Cavaleiro (Marshall 73), Jota, Neves (N’Diaye 79), Saiss, Costa (Bonatini 45).
Unused subs: Norris, Bennett, Enobakhare, Vinagre.
Villa: Johnstone, Chester, Whelan, Snodgrass, Hourihane, Hutton, Kodjia (O’Hare 79), Terry (capt), Elmohamady, Adomah (Onomah 73), Davis (Hogan 64).
Unused subs: Steer, De Laet, Samba, Bjarnason.
Bookings: Snodgrass (11 – foul), Hourihane (42 – foul).
Referee: T. Robinson.