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Wolves 3 Sheffield Wed 0 - Report and pictures

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It started with a dodgy penalty but it ended with one of Wolves' most convincing victories of a pulsating season that refuses to die for Kenny Jackett's side.

Bakary Sako's 18th-minute spot kick following Nouha Dicko's fall that looked right out of Fernando Forestieri's book of tricks paved the way for a third win in four home games.

Benik Afobe (55) and substitute James Henry (67) added the gloss that was slightly tarnished by Richard Stearman's exit on a stretcher 17 minutes from time.

But it was just the sort of determined, full throttle performance to make the missing fans whet their lips in anticipation of Friday night's televised visit of Derby.

Jackett made two changes from the line-up that made it successive draws at Brighton on Saturday.

Scott Golbourne and Nouha Dicko replaced Kortney Hause and James Henry as Jackett went for a more attacking team.

Wolves, unusually kicking towards the South Bank in the first half, immediately set about putting Wednesday under pressure.

There was plenty of possession but little in the way of clear-cut chances until after Rajiv Van La Parra crossed too close to keeper Keiren Westwood in the 11th minute, with both strikers poised to pounce in the box.

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Wednesday threatened two minutes later when Tom Lees climbed between two Wolves players at the far post but nodded too high from Jeremy Helan's deep free kick.

But the home side were quite literally in a hurry as they chased an early breakthrough, and they took the lead in somewhat fortunate circumstances.

Nouha Dicko skipped past the challenge of Helan but was still accelerating when he was caught by minimal contact from Claude Dielna, who had made three glorious interceptions earlier to deny the fired-up Wolves attack.

Referee Simon Hooper had no hesitation in pointing to the spot however and Sako side-footed home for his 12th goal of the season, but only the second penalty.

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For the home side, virtually all their concentration was on pushing forwards at every opportunity.

But they had to be wary of Wednesday on the break and in ex-Owls loan defender Danny Batth, Wolves had the right man in the right place on three occasions to head powerfully away.

Kevin McDonald was having arguably the best attacking display in a Wolves shirt as he burst forward on several occasions from central midfield.

And it all added up to what was probably Wolves' most attacking performance of the season as they forced another four good chances in eight minutes either side of the half hour.

Jack Price rolled the ball wide after Sako played it into Matt Doherty who miscued his shot and van La Parra's effort was blocked on 25 minutes.

Two minutes later, Benik Afobe put Dicko through but the striker produced a poor first touch and the ball rolled harmlessly behind.

On 32, Dicko was much closer as his spectacular curling shot from 20 yards was superbly clawed out of the air by a flying save from Keiren Westwood palming away.

Within 60 seconds, Price sidefooted straight at the keeper after Sako put Van La Parra through for the cut back on the overlap.

That was it from Wolves as attacking force before the break, but they couldn't relax.

Goals: Sako 18 (pen), Afobe 55, Henry 67.

Wolves (4-4-2): Kuszczak, Doherty, Batth, Stearman, Golbourne, Van La Parra (Henry 52), Price, McDonald (Edwards 88), Sako, Afobe, Dicko.

Substitutes not used: McCarey (GK), Evans, Doyle, Ebanks-Landell, Hause.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Westwood, Vermijl, Lees, Dielna, Helan, Maguire, McGugan, Hutchinson, Maghoma, Nihui, May (Lavery 64).

Substitutes not used: Kirkland (GK), Buxton, Mattock, Lee, De Havilland, Melo, Kirkland (gk).

Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)

Wednesday threatened with a header from Jacques Maghoma that had keeper Tomasz Kuszczak at full stretch to palm away in the 36th minute.

The competitive edge of the game threatened to spill over in the two minutes of time added on at the end of the first half.

First, Afobe caught Helan late with a challenge and the noise of the collision could be heard around the ground.

Then Sam Hutchinson did what looked like the same thing on Sako.

If Wolves thought they were going to repeat their furious first half by laying siege to the Wednesday goal, they were sadly mistaken. Instead the Owls tried in vain for the equaliser.

Maghoma was inches away with a curling shot that bounced just wide of Kuszczak's left-hand post.

Wednesday continued to cause Wolves problems and a header from the towering Atdhe Nuhui bounced on top of the net to give the hosts another nervous moment.

Jackett felt the need to change things and in the 52nd minute he brought on Henry for Van La Parra, who had something of an untidy start to the second half.

Wolves broke to double their lead with their first real attack of the second half on the hour.

The excellent Doherty looked up from the right and his cross was perfect for the in-rushing Afobe to meet it full on the volley.

The ball hit the inside of Westwood's right-hand post before nestling in the opposite corner for his eighth goal in 13 games for Wolves and 27th of the season.

And Henry duly made it 3-0, floating a delicious rising shot into the far corner of the net after cutting in from the right and adjusting himself to strike it with his right foot.

But there was more drama to come as Stearman, clearly struggling, fell to the floor after deliberately poking the ball out for a throw-in in the 73rd minute.

And the Wolverhampton-born stopper suffered the misfortune of being stretchered off on his 200th League game for the club.

Ethan Ebanks-Landell replaced him for his first start since November 22.

Wolves will be hoping the damage to Stearman isn't long term as they could do without disruptions at this stage.

But either way, the team look set for the challenge of Derby - and the race for a play-off place is still very much on.

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