Wolves 2 Boro 0 - Report, pictures and video highlights
It was a welcome return for the Bakary Sako and Nouha Dicko show as Wolves ended a wobble by returning to winning ways.
Sako and Dicko – the Mali combination that inspired a South Bank song and so many victories in the spring as Kenny Jackett's side marched to the League One title – scored the goals as Wolves won for the first time in five attempts.
They also kept their first clean sheet in six outings to end Middlesbrough's seven-match unbeaten run in a highly satisfactory evening for Jackett's side.
While Wolves bore all the hallmarks of a side who had conceded too many goals as they started tentatively in front of Molineux's lowest league crowd of the season – 18,391 - it was a different story for the last half an hour.
They doggedly pulled themselves clear in a game which like so many in the Championship, could have gone either way until the last 30 minutes.
It ended by winning with a degree of comfort, as Boro's fire had long since extinguished into the wintry Molineux air.
Galvanised by the industry of James Henry and Dicko and the probing of a rejuvenated Kevin McDonald, Wolves never looked back once Dicko doubled the lead given to them by Sako's 33rd-minute penalty.
Early on there was a lack of conviction to some of their passing and ideas were thin on the ground going forward, but they could have blown away the tension while the bums were still landing on seats.
There was just 86 seconds on the clock when Sako teased the defence in a jinking run before lashing wide from a good position in the area, after Dicko hassled Ryan Fredericks into losing the ball on halfway.
From there, the game died a death in the cold October night until Sako re-ignited things for Wolves.
Grant Leadbitter, who scored two long-range specials on his last visit to Molineux in March 2013, tested goalkeeper Carl Ikeme from over 30 yards with a free kick that required a falling save.
But Sako proved he could do the same with a set-piece from out wide that goalkeeper Dimitrios Konstantopoulos tipped over in the 26th minute.
Six minutes later came the penalty when Sako and Dicko combined brilliantly on the right, the former releasing the latter who drove into the area.
He was pushed to the ground by former Wolves left-back George Friend for a clear penalty. Sako needed no further invitation.
He showed the depth of his confidence that came with his seventh goal of the season and fourth in as many games by coolly dinking the ball over Konstantopoulos, who was left grasping thin air sprawling helplessly to his left.
But just as they have done so often recently, Wolves looked nervous defending a lead as Boro seized the initiative with several chances before the break.
Jelle Vossen's chip hit the bar and Ikeme did well to smother, as Patrick Bamford slid in for the rebound.
Then Boro peppered the Wolves goal with three shots in a matter of seconds as Vossen and Bamford twice saw their efforts met by two saves from Ikeme and a block from Ethan Ebanks-Landell.
Boro weren't finished and Ikeme was relieved when he gambled on half coming for Albert Adomah's cross and caught Vossen's free header.
The second-half started as the first – tentatively – with the only serious action a scare for Wolves on 49 after Ikeme dropped a cross from Fredericks on the line.
But just before the hour, the home side suddenly bared their teeth and for the first time, looked as if they could go on and win.
Dave Edwards sent a classic downward header against the post from Henry's cross on 58 minutes, then McDonald twice went desperately close from 30 yards, both on the volley.
This was Wolves' best period of the game, but they had to try to retain their momentum without Sako.
He was substituted in the 64th minute for Michael Jacobs, presumably to save him for Saturday after his recent international exertions caught up with him.
He needn't have worried as his mate Dicko took centre stage to score a superb second goal.
McDonald threaded a ball through and there was a mistake which still left Dicko with an awful lot to do.
But the pocket dynamo somehow bulldozed his way through challenges from Daniel Ayala and Fredericks before finding the roof of the net, as he drew Konstantopoulos, for his third league goal of the season.
It was ultimately a deserved return to winning ways and it looked as if normal service had been resumed by Jackett's side, especially after overcoming one of the Championship's most fancied sides.
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