Wolves extended their advantage over the chasing pack in the Premier League table to four points by taking down FA Cup foes Watford in a thrilling afternoon of football at Vicarage Road.
Strike partners Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota did the business for Wolves, despite Wolverhampton-born forward Andre Gray getting on the scoresheet against his home town club.
Keeping faith with the same team which put three past Arsenal in 19 minutes at Molineux on Wednesday night, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side came out attacking the goal away from the travelling supporters but could not make the breakthrough with Watford having the best of the early moments, as Gerard Deulofeu caused disruption to the Wolves defence.
Wolves had a good chance to open the scoring with 20 minutes on the clock after Jimenez was fouled on the right-hand side. Joao Moutinho’s wickedly curled in free kick was headed clear from the reaches of Willy Boly, but only as far as Ruben Neves, who aimed a powerful shot from 30 yards out, but Ben Foster was able to make a comfortable save.
The home side continued their attacking threat however, and Deulofeu forced Rui Patricio to palm the ball out for a corner when he found space on the Watford right, before aiming a cross-come-shot towards the near post.
Just after the half an hour mark and the travelling 2,100 Wolves supporters thought their team were ahead. Jota did brilliantly to drive the ball into the Watford half, taking on players left and right before slotting Leander Dendoncker in behind the defence.
The Belgian’s pass across the box fell straight to Jimenez who got his foot to the ball and aim it goalwards, but somehow Abdoulaye Doucore was able to stop the ball from crossing the line before Watford cleared the danger.
It was then turn for the hosts to miss a glaring chance. Roberto Pereyra did well down the right to swing a cross into the box which was headed back across goal towards Will Hughes, who – from a matter of yards out – turned the ball over Patricio’s crossbar.
That miss proved costly for Watford as Wolves took the lead moments later. Following the ball bouncing around the Hornets’ defence, Neves did well to keep control before playing in Jota on the left who swung a delicious cross towards the centre of the area and onto the head of Jimenez who made no mistake with his effort, heading underneath the body of Foster.
Half-time: Watford 0 Wolves 1
There were just minutes on the clock when Watford got their equaliser. A mix up in the defence saw Ryan Bennett aim a pass back to Patricio, but the Wolves defender didn’t realise Deulofeu was lurking in the space.
The Watford forward found himself one on one with the keeper and aimed a shot at Patricio, who did well to save with his feet, but the ball fell straight to former Wolves Academy striker Gray to hammer home.
Wolves didn’t let that slip-up affect them however and could have reclaimed the lead ten minutes into the second half. Matt Doherty, on his 250th appearance in a Wolves shirt, linked up well with Dendoncker before curling a cross towards the far post and onto the head of Jota, but the forward couldn’t keep his effort from going over Foster’s crossbar.
Watford were fortunate not to have gone down to ten-men when Jose Holebas appeared to elbow Jota as the Wolves forward was trying to burst past him, however referee Simon Hooper pulled out a yellow card for the left-back.
Jimenez was the next player to have a chance to put Wolves back in front, but the Mexican striker was flagged for offside as he rocketed a shot towards goalwards. Unfortunately for the striker, his shot went straight into the side netting.
Wolves kept the pressure on the Watford back line, and Moutinho came just inches away from a second goal for his side when he took aim from just outside the area, but his effort, which narrowly missed the top of Foster’s crossbar, took a deflection off Kabasele and went out for a corner.
The attacking threat of the visitors finally bared fruit with 15 minutes to play when Neves, on the half way line, lifted a cutting pass across the pitch which fell right at the feet of an unmarked Jota inside the area who made no mistake from six yards out to direct his volley beyond Foster.
Full-time: Watford 1 Wolves 2
Watford: Foster, Holebas, Mariappa, Cathcart (Success 82), Femenia, Pereyra, Capoue, Doucore, Hughes (Kabasele 74), Deulofeu, Gray.
Unused subs: Gomes, Janmaat, Masina, Sema, Chalobah.
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jota (Gibbs-White 90), Jimenez (Cavaleiro 86).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Vinagre, Saiss, Costa, Traore.
Referee: Simon Hooper