In a classy performance Wolves beat Sheffield united 3-0 at Molineux to restore their eleven point lead at the top of the Championship.
Nuno named the same team that beat Ipswich last week at Portman Road. Benik Afobe was named on the bench having re-signed for Wolves from Bournemouth late on deadline day.
Chris Wilder, Sheffield United coach, named three ex Wolves players in they’re starting line-up with Lee Evans, Leon Clarke and Richard Stearman all starting for the Blades. Sheffield United came into the game closing in on a play-off position in what has been a successfully season from the recently promoted side.
Wolves have a strong record of winning games following early goals which has been lacking in the last few months especially over Christmas but that wasn’t the case against Sheffield United. Wolves scored before the 5th minute with a sublime goal from Ruben Neves who has scored all four of his goals this season from outside of the box.
The ball broke to him outside the box from a Cavaleiro run, and after taking a touch placed a 25 yard sensational shot into the top right hand corner. The ball clipped the inside of the post before it crossed the line from a stunning strike from a player that some fans have been asking for more end product from this season. He answered those critics scoring a goal that will be a serious contender for goal of the season.
Wolves made it 2-0 after 30 minutes with what could be described as the best team goal of the season from Diogo Jota. Wolves made thirteen passes in the build up to the goal, and it symbolised the approach that Nuno has instilled in the player this season. The goal was made however from a superb one-two with Ivan Cavaleiro in the box, which enabled Jota to slot the ball low into the bottom corner.
The game saw Helder Costa back to playing some of the star football we have come to expect from last seasons player of the year. He created a wonderful chance for Ivan Cavaleiro to make it 3-0 by nutmegging a Sheffield United defender only for Cavaleiro to scuff the shot.
All three front players had a superb game breaking from deep with pace and quality playing some the same brand of football that Wolves started the season so well with.
Wolves slightly took their foot off the pedal in the second half, but controlled the game well with Ruddy only having to make a single save in the entire match.
Bonatini looked lively coming off the bench ahead of the recently signed Afobe, he had a clear chance when he was given space to turn in the box from a cross, only to fire his shot just wide of the post.
With 15 minutes to go following a long pass from Ruben Neves to release Diogo Jota the Sheffield United keeper had a moment to regret. Simon Moore came rushing out of his box only to clatter into Diogo Jota with a high kick, leaving the referee with no choice but to send him off with a straight red.
It was compounded further for Sheffield United with the resulting free kick taken by Ivan Cavaleiro which struck the wall and deflected into the far post leaving the keeper no chance. Ivan Cavaleiro will claim the goal, but the deflection made it 3-0 for Wolves in reality.
Benik Afobe came on to rapturous applause late on in the second half with the South Bank singing ‘Benik Afobe’s back home’ to the melody of Seven Nation Army. With over 29,000 fans in the ground, the atmosphere was as good as its been all season at Molineux with chanting continuous throughout the game.
Afobe had one chance late on in the game to score on his second debut for the club only for his header to glance past the post.
Wolves now go into a key run of games that secure them promotion to the Premier League. They have tough opposition, against Norwich, Fulham, and Aston Villa, with Wolves needing around 6 wins to secure promotion based on previous points totals in past seasons.
Since their week off in Marbella they seem to have got their mojo back, and playing some of the football that got them here in the first place. At this point in the season with the points gap over ten points Wolves are playing against themselves for the remainder of the season.