In a hard fought game at Molineux Wolves beat QPR 2-1 to go thirteen points clear at the top of the table with goals from Helder Costa, and Alfred N’Diaye.
Nuno unsurprisingly named an unchanged team from their win against Sheffield United, with Leo Bonatini and Romain Saiss ruled out of the match-day squad through injury.
QPR’s manager Ian Holloway was at his provocative best donning a flat-cap for the game which was met by chants from the South Bank of ‘Your just a s*** Peeky blinder’ .
Wolves carried on from where they left off against The Blades in the first half an hour of the game with the three Portuguese forwards, Cavaleiro, Jota and Costa showcasing the same pace and passing intricacy they have done since their trip to Marbella.
Wolves went 1-0 up after twelve minutes from a slick passing move which culminated in Alfred N’Diaye tumbling the ball over the line. The architect for both of Wolves goals was Ivan Cavaleiro whose cross was met by the late run of N’Diaye where the ball hit his shin, knee and thigh to score Wolves first goal.
As shown in the last three games which N’Diaye has started in place of the injured Romain Saiss, he offers a different dynamic than the Moroccan. His late runs and bursts into the box have been an important feature in Wolves play since their rejuvenation following the loss to Forrest a few weeks ago.
Wolves second goal was a great example of the ability of the front three to combine, with a clever one-two between Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro which released the latter on goal drawing in three QPR defenders. He was able then to simply slide the ball through to Helder Costa who had the easiest finish of his career.
Jota could have made it 3-0 before half time with an overlapping run around Ivan Cavaleiro only to be saved by the QPR keeper, Alex Smithies, from a tight angle.
At half-time Wolves fans were thinking this could be the game that Wolves really beat a side by five or six which they have been threatening to do all season. However QPR had other ideas, and the second half was a tense affair because of their resilience and Wolves sloppy play at times.
At half-time Ian Holloway brought on all six foot six of Matt Smith who caused havoc for Wolves back three all second half. QPR made it 2-1 five minutes after half time from a corner.
John Ruddy made a great save from Smith’s header, only for it to pop up in the six yard box. Then one time Wolves transfer target, Connor Washington, acrobatically turned the ball in with an overhead kick.
Both teams had chances in the second half, with QPR causing a great save from John Ruddy down low to his right, and going close over the bar. Their best chance came after John Ruddy saved a one on one chance with Washington only for the ball to fall to Eze whose shot was cleared off the line from Connor Coady.
The game became more and more frantic as Nuno brought on Benik Afobe and Morgan Gibbs White. Gibbs-White had an excellent substitute appearance, showing a confidence and assurance on the ball far beyond his eighteen years. He nutmegged one QPR player, and was able to release Wolves attack several times. He is a real talent and his slowly but surely cementing his place in Wolves first team squad.
Afobe looked hungrier than ever for his first goal since his return to Wolves. He was involved in two great chances where firstly his run and cut-back gave his best mate Doherty a great chance to score only for his shot to slice wide.
The second was from a pull back from Cavaleiro where he took the heaviest of heavy touches like the ball was covered in elastic bands. Afobe is creating space and getting into dangerous positions, so it won’t be long before he finds the net in a gold and black shirt once again.
This game should have been out of sight for Wolves by half time but thats how competitive the Championship is.
Wolves have shown they can win under difficult circumstances all season and their success in the Championship is as much down to being able to win these types of tight games as it is to play free flowing football like in the first half.
Wolves extend their lead at the top of the table and their grip on the Championship tightens after every game.