Promotion Celebrated In Style

Wolves celebrated promotion to the Premier League in style by defeating local rivals, Birmingham City thanks to two more brilliant team goals, finished off by Diogo Jota and Benik Afobe.

With promotion confirmed on Saturday evening, the pressure was off Wolves, but you wouldn’t have known, as three more points edged them closer to the Championship title.

Jota’s 17th of the season, from a fine Matt Doherty cross, was just the start Nuno wanted, and once Harlee Dean was sent off for the visitors, Wolves were comfortable.

Still, Afobe added gloss to the scoreline by clipping in an impressive second in front of the South Bank to raise the noise levels at Molineux even further.

It was the perfect afternoon for the men in gold and black, with the celebrations at full-time fully deserved after what has been a memorable season so far.

With their fate already sealed, when Wolves took to the field the roof was lifted off Molineux, as chants of “we are Premier League” echoed around the South Bank.

Despite the party atmosphere, it was the visitors who threatened first, however John Ruddy displayed why he’s the Championship Goalkeeper of the Season with two fine stops to deny Maxime Colin, the second of which deflected off Ryan Bennett.

Unfortunately for one of Wolves’ key players this term, it was an injury which disrupted play next. Ivan Cavaleiro appeared to tweak his hamstring when chasing a ball and was forced to leave the field, with Leo Bonatini taking his place.

That didn’t deter the hosts however and, after shooting over, Ruben Neves continued to try to find his range by firing a long-range effort into the arms of David Stockdale. With Neves out of luck finding the breakthrough, it was left to his Portuguese team mate to put Wolves ahead.

The hosts clicked into gear like a switch, as Romain Saiss freed Doherty down the right, and Wolves’ number two put his low, drilled cross on a plate for the onrushing Jota to slide home the opener.

Wolves were enjoying themselves and almost made it two on 35 minutes when Helder Costa beat Jonathan Grounds all ends up and squared for Bonatini, who saw his shot deflect nicely into the arms of Stockdale.

As the half wore on Doherty dragged an effort narrowly wide from a cleared Barry Douglas corner, as Wolves went in for the break with a well-earned lead.

Half-Time: Wolves 1 Birmingham 0

It wasn’t long into the second-half when Wolves had their next shot on goal, as Jota broke Birmingham’s offside trap and fired a shot at Stockdale, who turned behind for a corner.

The job was simplified soon after too, as City gifted Wolves possession and Costa the opportunity to run through on goal. Dean had other ideas, chopping down the winger to receive his second red card against Wolves this campaign.

From the resulting free-kick Neves came mighty close to the second goal, bending his kick narrowly wide. At the other end, Ruddy was called into action soon after, producing a strong arm to keep out Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Despite the man disadvantage, City were coming into the contest mid-way through the second period and substitute, Jacques Maghoma’s strike was blocked from close to the line by Douglas.

With 20 minutes remaining, Neves was given a rest and Alfred N’Diaye took to the field. However, it was their fellow midfielder, Saiss who came close next, exchanging passes with Bonatini and having an effort kept out by the arm of Stockdale.

Nuno’s final substitution saw Afobe replace Jota, fresh from his 17th goal of the campaign. It didn’t take long for the striker to threaten either. Picked out by Douglas, Afobe fired just wide with a powerful effort.

However, after Ruddy had denied Jutkiewicz with his feet, Afobe got his goal, running onto a brilliant N’Diaye through ball and producing a sumptuous, clipped finish over Stockdale in front of the South Bank.

It was the perfect finish to a perfect afternoon for Wolves, who were able to celebrate in style post-match.

Full-Time: Wolves 2 Birmingham 0

Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Douglas, Bennett, Cavaleiro (Bonatini 16), Neves (N’Diaye 70), Boly, Coady, Jota (Afobe 74), Costa, Saiss.

Unused Sub: Norris, Batth, Gibbs-White, Hause.

Birmingham: Stockdale, Grounds (Maghoma 62), Colin, Kieftenbeld (Roberts 54), Jutkiewicz, Dean, Ndoye (Gardner 74), Davis, Jota, Morrison, Harding.

Unused Subs: Kuszczak, Lowe, Dacres-Cogley, Lubula.

Booked: Grounds (33), Morrison (43)

Sent Off: Dean (52)

Referee: Andy Davies.

Attendance: 29,536 (Away: 1,987)

NEXT UP: Bolton Wanderers vs Wolves, Saturday 21st April.