Eleven officers were injured and nine hooligans arrested as bricks, bollards and road signs were thrown and gas canisters let off.
Police fought running battles with hundreds of thugs as chaos descended on the city centre after the Black Country derby between Wolves and Albion in the FA Cup.
Drivers were surrounded by violence in Stafford Street and bus passengers looked on as the angry mob surged past.
Officers used dogs to catch yobs who tried to flip over a police vehicle near Molineux, and a number of pedestrians were injured after being caught up in the violence.
About 600 officers and police support staff from across the region were brought in to police the game in an operation estimated to have cost Wolves around £20,000.
Wolves fans were kept apart from Albion fans waiting to board coaches on the ring road.
Wolverhampton's most senior officer Chief Supt Richard Green said today: "Towards the end of the match some Wolves fans left early and a significant element of between 400 and 500 were intent on causing a disturbance on the ring road.
"This element became frustrated at the police as they were prevented from confronting Albion fans, and their attention then turned on police officers."
Acting Supt Tony Styles denied suggestions that the policing was heavy handed. He said the aim of the day - to protect the public - had been achieved.
He said: "I'm disappointed that some of the Wolves fans wanted to turn their attentions to the police officers. These were mindless people who wanted to engage in violence and disorder with the police."
He said Albion fans be-haved well and it was a minority of Wolves fans who were at the seat of the trouble.
Wolves spokeswoman Lorraine Hennessy said: "Anyone who finds themselves convicted of a football related offence could be banned from Molineux."
* Eight men aged between 18 and 50 were arrested for violent disorder, public order offences, assault and criminal damage. Seven have been bailed pending further inquiries and one was released without charge.