Wolves went top of League One as they made it a magnificent seven wins in a row against Port Vale – and they owed it to their French connection.
Bakary Sako (51) capped his first call-up by Mali yesterday with his ninth goal of the season before fellow Frenchman Nouha Dicko bagged a double inside three minutes on 73 and 75 minutes.
Dicko also missed the chance of a hat-trick after his last-minute penalty was saved by keeper Chris Neal.
But Vale will be rueing missing arguably the best chance of the game in the 26th minute after Tom Pope skied over with only Carl Ikeme to beat.
Victory was Wolves’ seventh in a row – their best since the promotion season of 2008/09 - as they chase the club-record of eight from winter 1988. They also kept their fifth successive clean sheet as their superior goal difference to Leyton Orient put them in pole position.
They have now gone 516 minutes without conceding a goal as they prepare to chase that club record for straight wins in next Saturday’s Black Country derby at Walsall.
Head coach Kenny Jackett named an unchanged team for the third successive game, the first time this season he has done so.
The bench was unchanged as well as striker Leon Clarke continued his exile to a bruised heel.
Wolves dominated the first half but it was Vale who had the best chance in the 26th minute, Pope firing over with only Ikeme to beat.
Though they didn’t see much of the ball, Vale, who matched Wolves’ 4-2-3-1 formation and had ex-Molineux academy left-sided player Daniel Jones at wide left, looked comfortable with it in possession and well organised.
Vale, wearing all blue, kicked off in front of a derby atmosphere boosted by around 2,500 visitors fans who filled the lower tier of the Steve Bull Stand.
But it was Wolves, with Michael Jacobs pulling all the strings, who had the first opening in the fourth minute.
Jacobs started and finished it, running at Vale’s defence through the middle before looking up and rolling a shot wide from inside the area after rounding Billy Knott at pace.
Jacobs was again the man in Wolves’ next chance in the 14th minute when, out of nothing, the former Derby winger flashed in a dipping 30-yarder that just dropped wide.
Three minutes later it was Sako’s turn to have a go, but his goalbound angled drive after cutting in from the right hit team-mate Dicko.
Wolves’ next chance came in the 23rd minute when Danny Batth fired over as Dicko appeared to have a free header to plant home when Neal has flapped at James Henry’s cross.
Then came Pope’s golden opportunity after an uncharacteristic error by Jack Price was seized on by Billy Knott, who raced forward before unselfishly squaring to his unmarked team-mate.
The home side returned to the attack to have the only other two openings of the first period.
Both went to captain Sam Ricketts, the right-back crashing a towering header against the bar and out after steaming in on the right on to Henry’s inswinging cross on 39.
Three minutes later, Ricketts cut inside and lashed a fierce left-foot drive that sailed a narrowly over.
Vale were the first to show in the second half when centre-back Chris Robertson beat Batth to Chris Lines’s deep free kick but could only head wide on 51.
But seconds later, Wolves took the lead in somewhat fortuitous fashion.
Sako beat two players in a swaggering run down the left before cutting inside and letting fly, his shot taking a hefty deflection – possibly off right-back Jack Grimmer before looping over Neal and into the corner of the net.
That was what Wolves needed to relax and push on and they were stopped by illegal means the next time they broke on 67 as Robertson took out Jacobs with one of the most obvious blocks you will see.
From the resulting free kick, Sako’s drive cannoned off the wall and Dicko’s follow-up shot was blocked by Richard Duffy.
Two goals by Dicko in three minutes settled the match in Wolves’ favour however.
First he rifled home fiercely with a shot off the underside of the bar from a yard out after Vale failed to clear Ricketts’s cross.
There was time for Vale to bring on Jennison Myrie-Williams and Chris Birchall for Louis Dodds and Richard Duffy on 74 before Wolves made it 3-0.
Dicko showed tremendous strength and tenacity to hold off a retreating defence after controlling Sako’s long through ball over the top, turning smartly inside before rifling past Neal from 15 yards.
Ikeme saved from Pope’s half-volley and a Jones cross hit Myrie-Williams after a short corner.
But Wolves’ seventh straight win was in the bag and Dicko had the chance to make it more emphatic and bag his first hat-trick for the club with a last-minute penalty.
The French striker’s low shot was hard enough, but Neal guessed right, diving to his left to push the ball away and Dicko was crowded out as he tried to convert the rebound.