2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Patrick Bamford (90'+4')
  • Hélder Costa (32')
  • Ivan Cavaleiro (37')
  • Rúben Neves (56')
  • Matthew Doherty (71')

Nine-man Wolves continue march towards promotion with win at Middlesbrough

Nine-man Wolves took a giant step towards claiming the Championship title as they survived the dismissal of two players to claim a 2-1 win at Middlesbrough.
Nuno Espirito Santo's side need just three more wins to guarantee promotion after first-half goals from Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro secured them a dramatic victory at the Riverside.
The visitors were reduced to nine men with 19 minutes left as Matt Doherty was sent off for two bookable offences, a quarter-of-an-hour after Ruben Neves was also dismissed for picking up two bookings in the space of three minutes.
Middlesbrough spent the closing stages of the game camped in the Wolves box, but while Patrick Bamford scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time, they were unable to claw their way back to level terms.
As a result, they remain in the final play-off position, with their superior goal difference keeping them ahead of seventh-placed Bristol City.
Cardiff's afternoon win over Burton meant Wolves kicked off with their lead at the top of the table having been reduced to three points, but they hardly had the air of a side feeling the pressure as the promotion race reaches its climax.
They were comfortable from the off against their fellow promotion hopefuls, and while it took half-an-hour or so for their creative players to really make their mark, their superiority was apparent throughout the first half.
Neves came close to opening the scoring in the 16th minute as he fired in a curling 25-yard effort that Darren Randolph tipped around the post.
While Boro threatened with a Mo Besic strike that was headed clear by Ryan Bennett, the visitors claimed a deserved lead 13 minutes before the break.
Costa's initial shot was well saved by Randolph, but when Barry Douglas stood up an intelligent cross to the back post, the Portuguese forward was on hand to score for the second game in a row.
Wolves almost claimed a second goal four minutes later when Neves fired in a viciously curling shot that Randolph somehow scrambled over the crossbar, but the leaders did not have to wait long to double their advantage.
Randolph was called into action again from the resultant corner, and while the Republic of Ireland international did well to keep out Willy Boly's close-range header, he was powerless to prevent Cavaleiro nodding home the rebound from one yard out.
Wolves began the second half in the same dominant manner they ended the first, but their composure vanished after Costa was rightly adjudged to have dived after he galloped clear of the Boro defence.
George Friend attempted to make a tackle, but replays showed there was no contact between the Boro defender and the Wolves forward.
The visitors were incensed at referee Stuart Attwell's refusal to award a penalty though, and within three minutes, they were reduced to 10 men. That Neves was dismissed for two fouls in the space of those three minutes only added to the sense of a team that had lost their heads.
Neves received his first booking after he chopped down Adama Traore, and he was deservedly dismissed as he scythed down Friend close to his own penalty area.
Bamford wasted a decent chance to haul Boro back into the game when he failed to control Traore's through ball into the area, but the game took another unexpected turn when Wolves were reduced to nine men with 19 minutes left.
Doherty had previously been booked for a foul on Traore, and was dismissed when he elbowed Friend as he challenged for a high ball.
Traore almost pulled a goal back with a low shot that John Ruddy turned around the post.
But while Bamford volleyed home Traore's through ball in the fourth minute of stoppage time, Boro's hopes of securing a point disappeared as Stewart Downing dragged a 96th-minute effort wide.