Wolves 3 Doherty (40 & 58), Afobe (73) Reading 0
Wolves returned to their best with a bang on Tuesday evening, hitting Reading for three on their way to three valuable points to solidify their place at the Championship summit.
The first brace of Matt Doherty’s career proved the inspiration, with the right wing-back finishing off two fine team moves, either side of Benik Afobe’s first home strike back at Wolves.
Doherty’s header five minutes before the break settled any nerves and after the interval Helder Costa set up Afobe to fire home the second goal since his return.
The hosts were saving the best to last however, with a one-touch, free-flowing move seeing Doherty roll home the third and send the home supporters away with a spring in their step, with the lead on third place back to ten points.
Keen to make a positive start back on home soil, Wolves asked questions of their visitors early on, however, a couple of harmless corners came to nothing, providing the only talking point of the opening 15 minutes.
It wasn’t long after when the first shot on goal arrived, however. The recalled Costa stung the palms of Anssi Jaakkola, who pushed the ball on to Diogo Jota, but Wolves’ top scorer couldn’t react in time to turn in the rebound.
Unfortunately, that was Jota’s final contribution as the winger would be the subject of a tough Reading challenge and was forced off through injury soon after, meaning Ivan Cavaleiro entered the fray earlier than expected.
It didn’t derail Wolves however and they came close to taking the lead on 31 minutes. Ryan Bennett couldn’t get a clean header on Douglas’ corner, before Afobe’s looping header was clawed away to safety by Jaakkola.
Wolves were enjoying all of the ball but finding the Reading rear-guard resolute, restricting Nuno’s side to a speculative effort from range by Bennett, but they wouldn’t be kept out for the whole half.
The hosts finally found the breakthrough five minutes before the break when Costa crossed for Douglas, who in turn nodded into the path of Doherty to head home the opener, with Jaakkola caught in no man’s land.
Half-Time: Wolves 1 Reading 0
Wolves continued where they’d left off after the break and after Doherty and Cavaleiro exchanged passes, the former squared for Afobe, who snatched at his effort and watched the ball trickle wide of the mark.
Then, once the striker was brought down by Chris Gunter on the edge of the box, Douglas had a free-kick deflected narrowly wide for a corner.
The hosts wouldn’t be denied a second though and deservedly doubled their lead two minutes before the hour-mark. An unbelievable ball by Ruben Neves sent Costa scampering clear, trickery took him into a shooing position, but instead the winger set up Afobe to fire home the second.
Wolves were visibly enjoying their football under the Molineux lights, producing some stunning play, and Leo Bonatini was more than happy to join the action in place of goal scorer, Afobe.
It was that brilliant football which inevitably created the third goal. A stunning move of one-touch football picked off Reading and found Cavaleiro in space, the winger held the ball up and played in Doherty to roll home his second of the game.
Alfred N’Diaye was next to be given a taste of the action, replacing Romain Saiss for the final 13 minutes.
Neves, who was brilliant all evening, nearly scored a third with a moving effort from range, and then set up Douglas, who was only denied by some impressive Jaakkola goalkeeping late on.
There would be no further goals at Molineux, but three were more than enough to see Wolves return to winning ways and move ten points clear of Aston Villa in third place.
Full-Time: Wolves 3 Reading 0
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, Bennett, Neves, Boly, Coady, Costa, Jota (Cavaleiro 25), Afobe (Bonatini 72), Saiss (N’Diaye 78).
Subs: Norris, Batth, Gibbs-White, Miranda.
Booked: Bennett (85).
Reading: Jaakkola, Gunter, Moore, Evans (Bacuna 63), Aluko, Edwards, Barrow, Ilori, Clement, Bodvarsson (Smith 83), Blackett.
Subs: Mannone, Kermorgant, Rinomhota, Loader, Holmes.
Booked Gunter (51), Evans (54).
Referee: Robert Jones.
Attendance: 27,341 (Away: 249).
NEXT UP: Wolves vs Burton Albion, Saturday 17th March 2018. Buy tickets HERE.