Wolves edge Birmingham to restore four-point lead


Leo Bonatini scores for Wolves

Leo Bonatini’s goal – his 12th of the season – was given by goal-line technology at St Andrew’s

Wolves re-established their four-point lead at the top of the Championship as they beat Birmingham City at St Andrew’s for the third season running.

But they needed goal-line technology to prove that Leo Bonatini’s eighth-minute shot had crossed the whitewash to earn a sixth straight win.

Wolves failed to add another largely due to a string of fine saves by home keeper David Stockdale.

Harlee Dean was sent off for Blues, who remain in the relegation zone.

  • Relive Wolves’ victory at Birmingham

Shot-shy Birmingham failed to get a single effort on target and remain the EFL’s lowest scorers with just 10 goals in 20 league games.

Against a rampant Wolves side who had scored 15 goals in their previous five matches, Steve Cotterill’s side were far from disgraced in an at times hot-tempered derby.

The game took just eight minutes to erupt into life when Wolves scored in dramatic fashion.

Birmingham's Harlee Dean is sent off

Harlee Dean was the third Birmingham player to be sent off in the last three meetings of the sides

After Blues defender Jonathan Grounds gave the ball away cheaply, Ivan Cavaleiro’s fierce left-foot shot was saved by Stockdale, who also kept out the follow-up effort from Diogo Jota. The ball broke to Bonatini and although Michael Morrison blocked his effort, the alert button went off on referee Simon Hooper’s wrist to confirm it had crossed the line.

Stockdale made another superb save from Cavaleiro as Wolves made light of the absence of suspended record signing Ruben Neves.

In the second half, Stockdale needed Marc Roberts’ help to keep out Jota, after he had got clear following another unforced Blues error, and then also saved with his legs from Helder Costa.

Although the scoring was done, the drama was not as an 83rd-minute flare-up – the third of the night – brought yellow cards for Wolves’ Jota and Blues duo Morrison and Dean.

Having been booked for a foul on Alfred N’Diaye six minutes earlier, Dean’s punishment was doubled up to a red – and that was effectively game over.

Birmingham City manager Steve Cotterill told BBC Sport:

“Our second-half performance deserved something. But we’re not full of goals and Wolves have a front three that are.

“We were up against three players who are close to double figures or past it, and we knew we’d need to be at our best. But it seems like every time we’ve made a mistake, we’ve been punished.

“I’ve seen Wolves take teams apart this season, but they didn’t do that to us. I thought they were average tonight.”

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo told BBC Sport:

“Birmingham took more risks second half, but we deserved to win and we deserved a clean sheet.

“As long as football is played under the law I’m not worried. There were some hard challenges on Jota. I’m not against being aggressive, as long as you are fair.

“We are still looking just one game ahead. The next game against Sunderland is all I’m looking at. We don’t think about anything else.”

Live Text

Match ends, Birmingham City 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.

Second Half ends, Birmingham City 0, Wolverhampton Wanderers 1.

Attempt blocked. Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Che Adams.

Attempt missed. Che Adams (Birmingham City) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Nsue with a cross.

Foul by Hélder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

David Davis (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Hélder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Che Adams (Birmingham City).

Second yellow card to Harlee Dean (Birmingham City).

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card.

Michael Morrison (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card.

Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Michael Morrison (Birmingham City).

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Bright Enobakhare replaces Romain Saiss because of an injury.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution, Birmingham City. David Davis replaces Cheikh Ndoye.

Delay in match Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City) because of an injury.

Harlee Dean (Birmingham City) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Alfred N’Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Foul by Harlee Dean (Birmingham City).

Barry Douglas (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Nsue (Birmingham City).

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Jack Price replaces Léo Bonatini.

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Barry Douglas.

Corner, Birmingham City. Conceded by Matt Doherty.

Foul by Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt blocked. Cheikh Ndoye (Birmingham City) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Nsue with a cross.

Attempt missed. Diogo Jota (Wolverhampton Wanderers) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Hélder Costa.

Substitution, Birmingham City. Che Adams replaces Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Alfred N’Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Alfred N’Diaye (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Maikel Kieftenbeld (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers).

Lukas Jutkiewicz (Birmingham City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Hélder Costa (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Harlee Dean (Birmingham City).

Léo Bonatini (Wolverhampton Wanderers) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by Stephen Gleeson (Birmingham City).

Substitution, Wolverhampton Wanderers. Hélder Costa replaces Ivan Cavaleiro.

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/42132878

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