Wolves 2-1 QPR: Nuno's side hold off fightback
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 10/02/18 6:42pm
Wolves continued their march towards the Premier League as they secured a hard-fought 2-1 victory against QPR at Molineux.
Alfred N'Diaye put them in control after 12 minutes before Helder Costa doubled their advantage nine minutes later.
Wolves, who are now 13 points clear at the top of the Sky Bet Championship table, then had to withstand a severe second-half examination from Rangers.
Conor Washington raised their hopes with his 51st-minute strike and Matt Smith, Pawel Wszolek and Ebere Eze all came close to grabbing an equaliser.
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Rangers, who had won on their last three visits to Molineux, had been chasing an unlikely double after beating Wolves 2-1 at Loftus Road in October and they did make a sparkling start.
They had two excellent chances to break the deadlock inside the opening five minutes. Firstly Washington fired straight at goalkeeper John Ruddy in the second minute.
The Northern Ireland striker was then set up by a through ball from Luke Freeman only to see his shot deflected for a corner following a last-ditch block from Wolves captain Conor Coady.
Failing to convert those chances soon came back to haunt QPR as Wolves took control through N'Diaye's second goal of the season.
Willy Boly's long ball picked out Ivan Cavaleiro who found himself in acres of space on the left wing. When Cavaleiro sent the ball into the area, the on-rushing N'Diaye was on hand to bundle the ball home from six yards.
Cavaleiro was again the creator of Wolves' second after he exchanged passes with Diogo Jota and raced clear of the flat-footed Rangers defence.
Cavaleiro looked set to score himself as he closed in on goalkeeper Alex Smithies but he unselfishly fed Costa, who had the simple task of turning the ball into an unguarded net at the far post.
That looked to set the scene for a comfortable Wolves win, but Rangers were revived after a half-time pep talk from manager Ian Holloway and the introduction of Smith.
Smith made an instant impact when his shot from a corner was parried by Ruddy into the path of Washington, who spectacularly volleyed the ball home from six yards.
Two minutes later, Smith was agonisingly inches away from drawing Rangers level when his drive flew over the bar. QPR were then denied an equaliser after 70 minutes following a superb save from Ruddy, who dived low to his right to turn away a 20-yard drive from Wszolek.
Wolves substitute Benik Afobe, twice, and Matt Doherty then squandered golden chances from close range to make the game safe.
There was still time for a frantic finale that saw Ruddy save from Washington and the follow-up from Eze cleared off the line by Coady.
Nuno: "We work and we are focused. The philosophy is work, work, work. The way that the players work every day is what is important. We must never lose the focus of that because success comes based on those things and this was a tough game.
"In the first half we created many chances with good football. In the second half it was different and we had to be more compact. QPR started putting in long balls and that changed the game. But it was good work, a good result and fantastic support."
Ian Holloway: "I was very upset at half-time but the lads gave a rousing response and we needed that next goal. We got that and we huffed and puffed and created enough but didn't take them. You could argue that I should have started him (Smith) and I will have to have a good look at myself for that.
"All I want is my lads to make a difference when they come off the bench and they did. I thought we showed more than enough nous to get an equaliser and that would have been interesting. I'm gutted and will have a good look at the team I started with. At this level it is all about opportunities and you need to be clinical. Wolves were and we weren't."
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