Queens Park Rangers 2 (Washington 41, Smith 81)
Wolves 1 (Bonatini 43)
Wolves failed to regain top spot in the Championship after a narrow defeat against a determined Queens Park Rangers side.
After his team’s mid-week heroics against Manchester City, Nuno reverted to the side that had started against Preston North End a week earlier.
Rangers kicked-off attacking the end of Loftus Road that held over 3,000 visiting supporters.
An early moment of danger for Wolves came when Conor Coady was adjudged to have fouled Jordan Cousins to the right of the visitors area. Jack Robinson connected with Luke Freeman’s free-kick but his header was both high and wide.
All the early pressure was directed towards John Ruddy’s goal and the keeper had to dive smartly to his right to keep out Conor Washington’s shot on the turn.
Wanderers won their first corner of the game in the 17th minute but Ivan Cavaleiro’s kick came to nothing and then Cousins was lucky to escape with merely a rebuke from the referee after clattering into Barry Douglas.
Diogo Jota took the ball from halfway to the edge of the home area before dragging a low shot wide, and, after Alex Baptiste had headed behind Matt Doherty’s cross, another Cavaleiro corner proved, once again, to be fruitless.
Out of the blue, Rangers took the lead in the 41st minute. Romain Saiss lost out in a tackle with Massimo Luongo and the ball ran nicely for Washington.
Ruddy managed to block the striker’s first shot at close quarters but the rebound fell for Washington who converted into the empty net.
It took Wolves less than two minutes to pull level. Jota went on a tremendous run down the left flank before cutting in along the by-line and pulling the ball back for Leo Bonatini who rifled it into the roof of the net.
Cousins took Douglas out in the build up to the goal and was booked whilst the Wolves team was celebrating.
In their next attack Wolves were close to taking the lead. Douglas found himself unmarked in the home area but he scuffed his shot. The ball struck a defender and although Bonatini got to it, he couldn’t direct his header towards goal and the R’s defence cleared.
In stoppage time, Jake Bidwell was booked for a late challenge on Doherty.
Half-Time: QPR 1 Wolves 1
After the resumption, a long-range effort from Cavaleiro lacked the power to trouble Alex Smithies in the home goal before Freeman went a lot closer for Rangers with a drive from inside the ‘D’ that smacked against the bar. Luongo’s follow up shot was way too high.
Cavaleiro was less than pleased as were his team-mates after he appeared to be pulled back by Robinson as he ran into the home box, but the referee waved aside penalty appeals. The Wolves winger was replaced by Helder Costa a minute later.
After taking a pass from Bonatini, Jota laid a low cross in front of the striker who fired over the bar from ten-yards out.
QPR made a double change with Matt Smith and Pawel Wszolek taking over from Idrissa Sylla and Cousins.
Smith was soon in the thick of things with a powerful header that was only just wide of the far post after a cross from Bidwell.
Another Wolves change saw Bright Enobakhare replacing Bonatini.
In the 72nd minute, Wolves were lucky to survive after Ruddy appeared to be nudged off the ball as he ran to the edge of his area to collect a lofted through ball.
Washington attempted to lob everyone and a combination of Danny Batth and Coady managed to head clear from underneath the bar. The pair collided and had to receive attention before play resumed.
Ruddy then caught a well struck effort from Luongo from 25-yards, before Smithies blocked from Jota when play swung to the other end.
Ruben Neves wasn’t far away with another shot from distance, before Luongo was booked for fetching down Enobakhare.
On 81 minutes, Saiss’s challenge on Freeman gave Rangers a free-kick on the 18-yard line and, although Josh Scowen’s low effort hit the wall and bounced away, the danger wasn’t cleared. Joel Lynch curled in a cross and Smith was there to head past Ruddy.
There was five minutes of added time but, sadly, no way back for Wolves who suffered their third League reversal of the season.
Rangers: Smithies, Bidwell, Lynch, Freeman (Furlong 90+1), Cousins (Wszolek 65), Washington, Scowen, Robinson, Baptiste, Luongo, Sylla (Smith 65).
Unused subs: Lumley, Mackie, Ngbakoto, Wheeler.
Bookings: Bidwell (45+1 – foul), Luongo (79 – foul), Lynch (90+6 - foul).
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, Miranda, Batth (capt), Coady, Cavaleiro (Costa 56), Jota, Neves (Marshall 84), Saiss, Bonatini (Enobakhare 79).
Unused subs: Norris, N’Diaye, Bennett, Boly.
Booking: Saiss (90+5 - foul).
Referee: T. Harrington.
Attendance: 16,004 (3,194 away supporters).