Wolves were irresistible under the Molineux lights on Saturday evening and comfortably saw off Sheffield United thanks to Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota and Ivan Cavaleiro.
An unbelievable strike by Neves, just five minutes in, set the tone. The midfielder’s effort from range curled into the top corner via the inside of the post to set Wolves on their way.
The first was individual brilliance, but the second was a flowing team move. Instinctive, one-touch passing was ended by Jota playing a quick one-two with Cavaleiro and firing beyond Simon Moore.
The goalkeeper was later dismissed for a high, wild challenge on Jota, before Cavaleiro’s deflected free-kick beat his successor, Jake Eastwood, to conclude the scoring.
Under the lights at Molineux, amidst an electric atmosphere, Wolves almost made the perfect start as Cavaleiro produced a brilliant piece of skill down the left and crossed for Helder Costa to volley wide at the back post.
However, the home faithful didn’t have to wait long to see their side go ahead in stunning fashion. Conor Coady’s brilliant diagonal pass found Cavaleiro, before the ball fell to Neves, who picked his spot and curled an unbelievable strike in off the inside of the post.
To their credit, Sheffield United continued to have their fair share of possession, but were thankful for Moore when he stretched to tip Costa’s deflected effort around the post.
That proved just a stopgap for the Blades, who were carved open by their hosts on the half-hour mark to devastating effect. A fast, slick and effective team move was ended when Jota played a neat one-two with Cavaleiro inside United’s box and fired home an effort too powerful for Moore.
Five minutes before the break the third goal nearly arrived for Wolves, but Willy Boly couldn’t rise high enough to head home a Barry Douglas centre. That’d be the final real chance of the half as Wolves went in for the break with a deserved lead.
Half-Time: Wolves 2 Sheffield United 0
The hosts continued to impress after the break, despite Douglas firing a free-kick into the Sheffield Untied wall, while at the other end a wild effort from Ricky Holmes, which flew way off target, was all the visitors had to show for their early second-half efforts.
On 65 minutes Leo Bonatini took to the field in place of Costa and it didn’t take the striker long to come close. Cavaleiro’s probing pass found the Brazilian, who swivelled and fizzed a shot narrowly wide of Moore’s post.
The goalkeeper wouldn’t last the 90 however. Not long later Neves’ brilliant ball sent Jota scampering clear, only to be taken out by a wild, high challenge by the onrushing Moore, who was given a straight red card for his efforts.
The Blades were doubly punished too as Cavaleiro stepped up and watched his free-kick deflect off the wall and beyond substitute Eastwood, whose first touch was to pick the ball out of the net.
Molineux was rocking and the intensity lifted even further as goal scorer, Cavaleiro left the pitch to a stand ovation and was replaced by the returning Benik Afobe, making his second debut in gold and black.
He was followed onto the pitch quickly after by Morgan Gibbs-White, who took the place of Jota. Afobe was almost celebrating a goal scoring return too, but when he met Matt Doherty’s cross, he couldn’t keep his downward header on target.
It mattered not however and Wolves secured back-to-back victories and extended their lead on Derby County to 11 points at the top of the Championship.
Full-Time: Wolves 3 Sheffield United 0
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Douglas, Neves, N’Diaye, Costa (Bonatini 65), Cavaleiro (Afobe 78), Jota (Gibbs-White 81).
Unused Subs: Norris, Batth, Enobakhare, Hause.
Sheff United: Moore, Baldock, Stevens, Fleck, O’Connell, Basham (Leonard 71), Clarke, Wilson (Eastwood 75), Stearman, Evans, Holmes (Donaldson 71).
Unused Subs: Lundstram, Sharp, Duffy, Lafferty.
Sent Off: Moore 73
Referee: Darren Bond
NEXT UP: Wolves vs QPR, Saturday 10th February, click below for tickets.