2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Diogo Jota (55')
  • Léo Bonatini (71')

Wolves beat Villa to claim lead in Championship table

Wolves moved two points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship as second-half goals from Diogo Jota and Leo Bonatini earned them a deserved 2-0 win against local rivals Aston Villa at Molineux.
Jota's seventh goal of the season in the 55th minute set Wolves on their way before half-time substitute Bonatini took his tally to five after 71 minutes.
Wolves dominated the match and their margin of victory could have been far greater.
Villa had gone into the match on the back of four straight wins but never really got into the game at all.
Wolves looked certain to break the deadlock in the 11th minute only to be denied by a last ditch challenge from the Villa left-back Alan Hutton.
Jota split the Villa defence with a pass that picked out Helder Costa and he was homing in on goal before being halted by Hutton's well timed tackle.
But that sight of goal did spark an intense spell of Wolves pressure with skipper Danny Batth heading a Barry Douglas free-kick narrowly off target before Ruben Neves saw his angled shot deflected wide.
Jota was proving to be a particular handful to Villa and they were relieved to see his 24th minute shot be blocked after he had surged clear from inside his own half.
Villa were then indebted to goalkeeper Sam Johnstone for keeping then on level terms in the 37th minute when he pushed away a fierce 25 yard drive from Ruben Neves.
Having soaked up so much pressure, Villa finally did force Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy belatedly into action on the stroke of half-time when he comfortably dealt with a weak Jonathan Kodjia header from Conor Hourihane's free-kick.
That was nothing more than a false dawn for Villa as Wolves deservedly broke the deadlock after making a dominant start to the second half.
Their constant probing was finally rewarded after Villa's harassed defence failed to clear a right-wing cross from Ivan Cavaleiro.
His centre flew right across the Villa penalty area with Jota on hand to rifle a curling shot past the despairing Johnstone from 14 yards.
Villa sent on striker Scott Hogan to try to find a way back into the game, but Wolves remained in control and gave the scoreline a more realistic look after another teasing run by Jota.
The danger initially looked to have passed when he was dispossessed in the area by Hutton.
But the loose ball broke kindly for Bonatini who beat Johnstone with a shot from an acute angle.
Jota and Bonatini were then denied by Johnstone in a frantic spell of goalmouth action before Villa's dismal evening was summed up when Robert Snodgrass hit the bat with an 83rd minute free-kick.

English League Championship Standings

1 Norwich City 21 +14 43
2 Leeds United 21 +17 42
3 Sheffield United 21 +10 37
4 Derby County 21 +7 37
5 West Bromwich Albion 21 +14 36
6 Middlesbrough 21 +9 36
7 Nottingham Forest 21 +10 34
8 Aston Villa 21 +9 32
9 Birmingham City 21 +5 30
10 Stoke City 21 +2 30
11 Blackburn Rovers 21 -4 30
12 Swansea City 21 +2 29
13 Bristol City 21 +1 29
14 Queens Park Rangers 21 -6 28
15 Preston North End 21 -3 25
16 Wigan Athletic 21 -6 25
17 Sheffield Wednesday 21 -11 24
18 Brentford 21 +1 22
19 Hull City 21 -9 21
20 Rotherham United 21 -11 21
21 Millwall 21 -9 19
22 Reading 21 -8 18
23 Bolton Wanderers 21 -14 18
24 Ipswich Town 21 -20 11