Saturday 18 November 2017 18:55, UK
Wolves returned to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a hard-earned 2-0 victory at lowly Reading.
After a slow start and two early scares, Wolves made the breakthrough when Ivan Cavaleiro waltzed free into the home area to jab home from close range. Reading dominated large chunks of the second half but lacked penetration against a well-drilled Wolves defence. Defender Matt Doherty then sealed victory for Wolves when cutting in from the right to score with two minutes remaining.
Wolves lost top spot in the Championship on Friday night, when Sheffield United moved above them after a 3-1 win at Burton. But they still went into the match at the Madejski Stadium in good form, with seven wins from their previous nine league matches.
Struggling Reading, beaten play-off finalists last season, had staged something of a revival prior to the international break. They had won three of their last five games, including victories over Nottingham Forest and Derby in their past two outings.
It was Reading who began the stronger and they almost went in front in the first minute. John Swift tried an ambitious effort from 30 yards that bounced awkwardly in front of Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy. Although Ruddy got a hand to the ball, it rebounded on to a post and away to safety.
Ruddy had another let-off not long after, when he tried to clear a back pass from centre-back Conor Coady. The attempted clearance struck the onrushing Mo Barrow and ricocheted narrowly past an upright.
Wolves were fortunate to survive both incidents but settled into their rhythm thereafter and went ahead in the 16th minute. Diogo Jota split the home defence with a superb pass and Cavaleiro rounded 'keeper Vito Mannone before tucking into an empty net.
Reading replied with a 25-yard free-kick from Swift but it flew high and wide. In an entertaining and free-flowing first half, Mannone saved well from Cavaleiro and Reading striker Yann Kermorgant jabbed wide after a goalmouth scramble.
Reading created the opening chance of the second period, when Leandro Bacuna's cross fell nicely for Barrow, but the winger lost control at the vital moment. Wolves still looked dangerous on the break, with Jota drawing a comfortable save from Mannone from long distance.
Top scorer Leo Bonatini, with 10 goals this season, also tried his luck but was marginally off target. Wolves needed good fortune again as Reading launched a fierce late onslaught.
But they held firm after Ruddy saved well from Barrow and Willy Boly cleared off the line from Sone Aluko's follow-up shot. Right back Doherty sealed it for Wolves in the 88th minute with an angled low drive past Mannone.
Jaap Stam: "Did we deserve more from the game? We should have got at least a draw, I agree with that. We started the game very well and could maybe have scored that first goal, but we didn't do it. Then, after a while, you knew that Wolves were going to be taking part in this game as well and go forward. They have got a lot of ability and quality in their team. Everybody knows that and we knew that.
"We created a couple of chances in the first half from which maybe we could have scored. In the second half, we totally dominated the game. We created opportunity on opportunity but didn't score. We should have scored at least one goal from all that. And then you have a draw and you don't know what might happen. But then you always need to aware of Wolves on the counter. You could say that we deserved more, but we should have done better ourselves. We played very well but the result is not there."
Nuno: "We know that we played a good team who caused us a lot of problems. We had to find solutions against them and that meant we had to defend well, which we did. When you see a player throwing his body in front of the ball, then you know that you can count on your players. We played well in the first half but, after that, we knew that Reading would come forward at us. We had to recognise that and work hard, but we still had moments to try to get a second goal.
"It would have been nicer if it had come before the 88th minute, but we are happy. That's three clean sheets in a row now. John [Ruddy] did well, but that's his job. He was very important to us. He works very hard every day and we see that in training but you have to do it in matches."