Wolves edge Birmingham to restore four point lead

Written By: Muraya Kamunde/BBC
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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.

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.

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

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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.

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“Our second-half performance deserved something. But we’re not full of goals and Wolves have a front three that are,” Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito said.

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

 

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