Wolves Fans' Verdict v Cardiff: Delightful double!

Our Wolves fans share their delight after a comfortable 2-0 win over Cardiff at Molineux.

Wolves got back to winning ways against the Bluebirds (AMA)
Wolves got back to winning ways against the Bluebirds (AMA)

Adam Virgo

What's your verdict on the match?

A thoroughly deserved win and we could have easily scored more.

Bit of a shaky start from us until we got the first goal where the football was like watching 2010-11 Barcelona. Some beautiful one-touch football, Jimenez and Jota linking up wonderfully with the Portuguese forward finishing calmly past Etheridge.

A couple of minutes later and the same two combined once again to make it 2-0. The cut back from Jota to Jimenez was pure class as he could have easily shot but he put the ball on a plate for his strike partner. Think of any duo in the world you want and this pair is still better.

There were questions being asked at 2pm when the team was announced, in which there were a few shocks. Nuno got it bang on in the end though. Vinagre and Traore as the wing-backs were exceptional and the defensive midfield pairing of Dendoncker and Saiss worked a treat.

We dealt with everything that Cardiff threw at us really well and going forward it was sublime to watch at times. The only criticism was that we should have scored more but maybe Nuno has figured out a way to break down the teams lower in the league because Vinagre going forward offers more than Jonny, however, the Spaniard is far better defensively.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

Ruben Vinagre had his best game of the season and arguably of his Wolves career. Full of energy and he had the beating of Lee Peltier all afternoon. I doubt he had much sleep tonight as I imagine he had nightmares of the Portuguese wing-back beating him with ease over and over again. Only 19 years old and he’s only going to keep improving, so much potential and he could easily develop to be one of the best wing/full backs in the world one day.

Romain Saiss is such a good squad player to have. Every time he comes in he does a good job and yesterday he won absolutely everything and made the most tackles on the pitch I believe. Was calm in possession and he’s such a great option to have. I’d guess he’ll be slotting in at centre half for the Chelsea and Burnley games with Bennett being suspended.

Willy Boly another who won absolutely everything in the air. Dealt with the aerial balls all game and relieved a lot of pressure whenever the ball came into our box.

Adama Traore had his best game of the season as well. At right wing back he was sound and got forward to good effect when needed. Played part of the second half up top with Jimenez when Jota got subbed off and the Spanish forward was brilliant. Whenever he had the ball he just ran past everyone, creating a couple of chances for himself in the process. He seems to be improving each week and if he can add that finishing touch to his game, he will be something special.

The fact that Sol Bamba injured himself trying to catch Traore says everything and as soon as he gets the ball, the only way to stop him is to take him out.

Jota and Jimenez both with classic forward play. Setting each other up beautifully and both applying the finishes when given the opportunities. The Mexican looked tired on Tuesday at Huddersfield but there were no signs of fatigue yesterday, 11 goals and six assists in the league for him now which is a fantastic return in his first premier league season. Jota will be fresh for Chelsea now too having only played one half pretty much.

Chris Hughes

What's your verdict on the match?

This was some way to put to bed the theory that we can’t play against teams near the bottom of the table. Time and time again we cut Cardiff to ribbons either with wonderful passing and movement or through pure pace, energy and aggression.

Pre-match team news had caused a meltdown on social media as Nuno made five changes from Tuesday night’s embarrassment of a display at Huddersfield. Of the midfield quintet who started on Tuesday evening only Dendoncker retained his place, with Nuno benching Moutinho, Neves, Jonny and Doherty. The biggest talking point was the inclusion of Adama at wing-back instead of Doherty. It turned out to be a masterstroke!

After a bright Cardiff start that forced an early couple of corners and a heart-in-mouth moment when it looked like the returning Ruddy had thrown in another own goal, we took complete control of the game and had pretty much killed it off as a contest before 20 minutes had gone.

Our opening goal was delicious. From Bennett’s clearing header up to Raúl we made another 16 passes as the ball moved from right to left and back again before the one loose pass in the move from Bennett forced Coady to react quickly to nick it to Saiss. From there it was pure filth as Boly moved infield to find Jota around 40 yards from goal. 5 superb one and two-touch passes between Jota, Raúl & Gibbs-White later and Diogo found himself 10 yards from goal and he calmly finished past Etheridge. It was the sort of goal that you’d be hearing about for the next week if it had been scored by a top 6 side or Barcelona and was another one of those instances where you had to take a moment to realise that this was, in fact, Wolverhampton Wanderers you were watching.

Where the first goal was a fantastic display of passing and movement, the second was a ruthless example of how we press and counter at pace. Raúl exploited a dozing Sol Bamba high up the pitch, burst away at pace and floated a ball to Jota at the back post. Choosing to bring the ball down rather than head it at goal, the little Portuguese unselfishly played it square to his strike partner and Jiménez finished with aplomb. A goal and an assist each for our front two, whose understanding of each other’s game grows the more they play together and continues to look increasingly dangerous for the opposition.

Gibbs-White wasted a glorious opportunity to make it three when he spooned a shot wide after excellent work from Vinagre and, from there on in, it was Wolves vs Neil Etheridge.

Dendoncker didn’t know much about the chance that hit him and rebounded off the post, but Etheridge made an excellent save to prevent the Belgian scoring from the rebound. He was at it again in the second half to deny Vinagre twice and Raúl, while Adama added some comedy value when an excellent run ended with a shot from distance that was closer to the Ring Road than the top corner!

As comfortable a game as we’ve had in a while, with a chance to rest some of the key players ahead of a trip to Stamford Bridge and the quarter-final game against United. A great way to bounce back.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

While no one performed poorly, Bennett could possibly count himself fortunate not to have his game cut short early after needlessly chopping down his namesake Joe just before halftime having already received an earlier yellow. His 10th caution of the season means he gets a two-match ban.

It doesn’t overly concern me for next weekend at Chelsea as they’re a side who generally look to play the ball on the floor but his aerial ability will be a big miss on our trip to Turf Moor when Burnley will undoubtedly angle some long, high balls in the direction of Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes and Peter Crouch.

Of the rest, Diogo and Raúl were superb in the opening 45 minutes and didn’t give the Cardiff back four a moment of peace. They relentlessly tormented Bamba in particular and, when the Cardiff centre half took a wild swipe at Adama to stop another of the Spaniard’s barnstorming runs, you felt his injury was more a way of getting himself an early escape. Quite possibly the first player to be stretched off with embarrassment.

Adama the enigma had probably his best game since signing. It still isn’t perfect and you’d like him to get his head up more often and make better decisions but, overall, his persistence and constant willingness to run with the ball at pace caused both direct and indirect problems for Cardiff. Even when he doesn’t have the ball you sense opponents tend to sit at least 10 yards deeper against us, reluctant to over-commit coming forward or to press too high in fear of Adama exploiting the space in behind. This gives our ball players more space and time to build attacks from the back in the way we did for the opening goal.

Vinagre was excellent down the left, particularly in the second half, and deserved to find the back of the net with one of his two efforts on goal.

The pick of the bunch was Saiss though. Having been completely outfought in midfield by Huddersfield on Tuesday night you felt there needed to be a change in this one to prevent Cardiff outmuscling us again. Saiss came in and won everything. He made the most headers, most clearance and had the best pass completion rate of anyone on the field. Along with Boly, he ensured every one of Gunnarsson’s bullet throw-ins were repelled and he was making challenges everywhere to restrict Cardiff’s attacks. It continues to baffle me how he was overlooked for so long under Lambert!

Gulraj Kular (Musings from Molineux)

What's your verdict on the match?

We all went into this one a degree of apprehension. Funny that. We spent all week chastising Nuno for his team selection and tactics and when he decides to change things, we all lose our minds.

It kind of felt like Nuno had locked himself in a room with a bottle of vodka and a tactics board and this was the end result.

This may be doing the incredible preparatory work he does on a weekly basis a disservice but this was very un-Nuno in terms of how drastic the changes were.

He dropped Ruben Neves, both wing-backs and his No. 1 goalkeeper. You could have been forgiven for thinking this was a low priority or a cup game.

What resulted was at times frenzied, untidy and rough around the edges, but also as razor-sharp in attack as at any other point this season. It was a slight throwback to our days under Mick McCarthy when our wings were our breadwinners, with The Golden Arrows flying up and down. Pure, unadulterated pace is a wonderful thing and watching us take advantage of those wide areas was a joy to behold. The introduction of Morgan Gibbs-White also gave us a greater link to the front two and never was this more profound than in the excellent work for our first goal.

Cardiff may have helped us out but we had our foot on the throat and pressed down immediately in an impressive manner. It may not have been an instant kill, but slowly we managed death by a thousand cuts and although we were a little more restrained in the second half, we still created the better chances. An astounding performance from a Filipino international in goal was the only reason we didn’t record our biggest win of the season.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

Each of the reintroduced quintet performed well. John Ruddy almost chucked one in and I do subscribe to the belief that a keeper with regular game time doesn’t make that look so uncomfortable. Romain Saiss was a human hoover in midfield and it worked a treat having him and Dendoncker in the middle with the slightly more risque Vinagre and Traore on the flanks.

The wide pair were in scintillating form and they hold the key to breaking down more obdurate opposition for now. Traore especially is able to pin back his full back and make a mockery of the doubling-up rule. Watching him play is an experience in itself.

Natalie Wood

What's your verdict on the match?

I am probably in the minority when I say I welcomed the changes when the team came out. Seeing Ruddy’s name on the team sheet was especially refreshing. I personally think Ruddy is an important character in the team. I was expecting Cardiff to be all over us, to be honest, so it was vital we were going to have someone organising the defence and having someone with consistent distribution.

Neves and Moutinho have struggled to have their normal influence over games when we have played against the bottom teams, we are not normally given an inch of space and can struggle to win the midfield battle. Jonny and Doherty both really deserved a rest! We have some huge games coming up where we will need them a lot more.

Cardiff started exactly as I expected - pushing forward continually and beginning to pin us back. A few minutes into the game we had our first warning sign from Cardiff, Ruddy struggled to deal with an initial shot but just about recovered in time. It was starting to feel like the same old issues against these lower teams but within minutes we had practically killed off the game. Our opening goal was superb - it did not get the credit it deserved on Match of the Day!

We cut through Cardiff so easily with pass after pass building up to an excellent exchange in the box from Jimenez and Jota before Jota slotted home. A gorgeous goal from our perspective, some awful defending from Cardiff’s perspective.

Our second goal came minutes later, again some awful defending from Cardiff, Sol Bamba gave the ball away after some pressure from Jimenez who stormed down the wing before passing to Jota who could have had a shot himself but instead played back to Jimenez who had the easier finish.

We were flying and had completely taken the wind out of Cardiff. Aside from the top 2 who were superb, Traore really stood out for me in the first half. Sitting further back gave him an opportunity to get the ball and run from further back….it also gave other wolves players a head start!! He was really causing issues for Cardiff who just couldn’t get anywhere near him.

We could have scored a few more in the first half, our biggest chance falling to Dendoncker- the ball hit his boot hitting the post before Etheridge recovered well to make a fantastic save from Dendonckers second attempt. Cardiff weren’t completely dead in the water and they had a couple of flashes of decent play.

I was fully expecting Cardiff to come out in the second half all guns blazing, we sit just behind the dugouts and could hear some of the language coming out of Warnock's mouth…..I would not have wanted to be in that dressing room at half time! Instead, we continued where we had left off - completely on top. Jota going off meant that Traore went up front and Doherty coming in. To be honest this is where we saw Traore’s weakness - his shooting. He made a couple of attempts on goal but they were nowhere near, to be honest. He did continue to have a big impact though down the wing. Vinagre had a good first half but really came to life the second. He was unlucky not to score but was stopped by a great save from Etheridge. Jimenez could have also had a second goal but again was stopped by Etheridge. Cardiff did come to life in the last 10 minutes of the game and applied plenty of pressure but with no end product, it was a pretty easy win. Cardiff were lucky it was only 2-0!

In hindsight, we were probably lucky to finish the game with 11 men. Having already received a yellow Bennett’s challenge on Joe Bennett was a poor one and probably did deserve a second yellow… lucky boy! The downside is just by receiving one yellow we will be without him for 2 games but if this game showed us anything it was the depth we do have in our small squad, he will be missed but I think we will be ok.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

It was a really strong team performance, exactly what we needed after a very poor performance against Huddersfield. I wouldn’t say there was any player that had a poor game, Gibbs- White started a bit shaky and gave the ball away a lot but as the game went on he grew in confidence and especially excelled with his dead balls. Traore and Vinagre also had superb games. They linked up well and caused chaos for Cardiff. Vinagre also had an excellent defensive display.

He would probably have been my man of the match at first glance but for me there was another player that very quietly went about his game, very below the radar but after seeing the stats he deserves some praise. Romain Saiss is very consistent during his performances and makes a huge difference to our overall performance. His pass rate was ridiculous and he made plenty vital clearances and headers- especially in the closing minutes. Great performance that will surely have done enough to allow him to keep his place, especially with Bennett's suspension.

The Cardiff game had the chance of being another banana skin for us, it does have to be acknowledged that they were poor. After watching Huddersfield tear us apart it is difficult to see how they are below Cardiff however it is more vital to acknowledge our excellent team performance. Nuno got the team selection spot on and those that came in slotted into their roles perfectly. We attacked with intent and defended solidly. I think our confidence was knocked slightly after Huddersfield and this was exactly what was needed before 2 key games.

Rob Cartwright

What's your verdict on the match?

Nuno often talks of learning from past games and preparing to be better in the next one. Also, the importance of everyone in the squad being ready. This game was a classic example of this in action. He made some surprising team changes and got the game plan spot on for this game. Also, it was pleasing that all the players getting their chance to start did not disappoint, with some very good performances from the likes of Traore, Vinagre and Saiss.

Ruddy made the first save, early, from the first corner. This was merely a wake up call, as we went on to completely dominate the rest of the first half.

We were making Cardiff dizzy with smart pass and move passages of play. Traore was looking dangerous with every touch, skipping past one-two-even three blue shirts before passing. Sometimes the pass would go astray.

This culminated in a quite superb goal on 16 minutes, with Jota finishing off a 17 pass move from Wolves box to the Cardiff goal. Breathtaking football.

Two minutes later, Jimenez dispossessed Bamber in no mans land, broke forward and crossed to Jota; everyone expected him to shoot, but instead he passed back to Jimenez who was slightly better placed to score. Game over in just 18 minutes.

Gibbs-White nearly added a third two minutes later. Wolves were completely tearing Cardiff apart with every move. Dendoncker should have scored too when he hit the post from 4 yards.

Bennett received yellow for a foul on Reid. It looked very harsh live and replays were not conclusive that it was anything other than a coming together on the run. He got away with a sure foul later, which confirmed to me the ref was not sure about the initial card himself.

Minutes after this, Morrison puts a “forearm smash” into Jota’s throat which needed treatment. The referee waved play on!!!

Meanwhile, Joe Bennett was having a torrid time chasing the immense shadow of a Traore. Bamba fouled him in full flow and received a yellow card and an injury for his troubles.

Wolves continued to dominate in the second half. Lovely lovely football with Jimenez and Vinagre, twice, close to scoring. The game played out without danger. One of those games you can sit and enjoy the football with a sing song!

You can argue that Cardiff and Huddersfield are similar teams in many ways. How we managed two performances poles apart is quite a mystery. We played with intensity, pace and passion. The teamwork was our biggest strength in this game. Well done Nuno.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

There were some impressive performances, with Jimenez and Jota leading the forward line superbly. Gibbs-White supported them well also seeing plenty of the ball.

Special mention to Traore too. He played as wing back in the first half and showed us that he can play this multi role. He contributed very well defensively and was a danger every time he moved forward. He gets fans on the edge of their seats and I can see him improving. I think a Nuno will be pleased with his defensive discipline here.

He was pushed forward for the second half and surprisingly got less time on the ball.

It was good to see Ruddy get a league game and he had little to do, other than the first corner. Saiss was impressive, quietly sweeping up any loose ball which meant the back three only had to deal with Cardiff’s traditional hoofs upfield and long throw-ins.

My Man of the Match was the impressive Vinagre. He was self-assured and attack-minded, using his pace to good effect. He beat his man a number of times to get crosses in and had two chances to score which needed good saves. Defensively he was secure too.

All in, it was a good day and good preparation for two massive games ahead.

Clive Smith

What's your verdict on the match?

Only one of the 28,001 Wolves Managers in the ground at 3pm would have picked that starting eleven. Amazing. Then, after fifteen minutes, at least 28,000 were thinking - this is not going to work. It was like going back in time and we were watching two mid table Championship teams playing. By then, our only contribution of note had been a route one punt from Ruddy to Jota which saw him tackled near their goal line.

Suddenly as if a switch had been flicked, the next five minutes reminded us how much we have actually progressed. Two gloriously crafted goals had us all purring with delight. That was just part of an excellent thirty minutes from the Nuno's Premier League Wolves that we have come used to seeing. Perhaps there is one Special One among the 28,001 of us.

The contrast in styles between Wolves and Cardiff was easy to see, although the hard physical edge we usually associate with the Bluebirds was less in evidence. Jimenez and Jota were complimenting each other with their quick neat interactions, during and after their goals. Prompted by Dendoncker, Saiss,Traore and Vinagre we looked a threat whenever we attacked.

We should have added to our lead as Dendoncker found the ball at his feet, a yard out from a corner, but could only hit the post, while a fast move down our left gave Gibbs-White yet another chance to break his goalscoring duck.

All smiles then at half time - I mean, when did we last surrender a 2-0 half time lead at home? No worries then, forgive me for not relaxing 100% though.

Jota's departure two minutes after the break was disappointing. He ended the first half looking every bit as good as Hazard or Aguero. It would be good if he could play at that level more often. He has time on his side.

A more familiar wing back joined the fray, releasing Traore to play in a more advanced role. Doherty looked like he had ninety minutes energy with only forty five minutes to use it. His presence helped open the game up as we had Traore bursting through the middle and Vinagre charging down the left.

Both should have done better with the chances they created while Jimenez also should have added to our lead. In the end it was about as comfortable a 2-0 win as you could hope for at his level.

Lets just keep adding to our points tally, with John Smith's already a distant, almost forgotten, memory.

Who played well – and who didn't impress?

No complaints with Ruddy. A few shots to save, quick release of the ball, and even his kicking raised a smile when one went straight into the Cardiff dugout.

Like most of us, Vinagre was in a bit of a daze at first, but improved as his confidence grew throughout the game. Could easily have been involved in a couple of goals and was man of the match. His youthful exuberance is always nice to see.

Traore worked harder than usual - he had to take throw-ins. Overall he did everything, I saw him win a defensive tackle, make several attacking runs, generally scaring Cardiff to death with his pace. He even managed a shot that nearly reached Molineux Alley! If Nuno could only harness that pace. Certainly one of his best starts in a Wolves shirt - how can that be though, when he started at wing back?

Boly, another one who looked unsure in the opening minutes but then put in a typically commanding performance. Looked a proper solid dependable defender.

Coady had a predictable game. Looking totally comfortable throughout the match. Dangerously close to dribbling across half way twice before reverting back to type.

Bennett picked up a needless booking for the second game in a row. He did however win many aerial challenges and contributed to the clean sheet.

Dendoncker was a workaholic in midfield. Doing well closing down and getting a foot in to help break up their play.

Gibbs-White had a good run out and got a generous ovation when he went off. There really is a feeling in the ground that everyone wants him to do well. He must surely sense that too. His first touch could have been better to prevent him rushing or losing possession cheaply and he needs to learn to find space in midfield. So no pressure, just take the best bits of Neves and Moutinho and you'll be a decent player lad.

Saiss was impressive in the middle. It was as if he relished the responsibility with Neves and Moutinho not starting. Saw lots of the ball and used it well.

Having looked jaded in midweek Jimenez was back to full speed. Clever play with his back to goal, running the channels well, coming deep to get the ball and scoring again. A typical all round performance.

As I said above, Jota was a joy to watch for thirty minutes.

From the bench Doherty helped keep our forward momentum going. Moutinho offered a steady unhurried influence in midfield when he came on. Cavaleiro had a typical fifteen minutes cameo, this time we were not chasing the game however.

A rare shout out to the ref - Andre Marriner - he had a good low key game, not getting distracted when some players went to ground too easily.

Russ Evers (Hatherton Wolves)

What's your verdict on the match?

Comfortable as any game could be with a determination and know-how that may have been slightly lacking as of late.

To be honest, I was slightly worried pre-kick-off with the number and nature of the changes and the lack of Neves, Jonny and arguably the two lads leading the player of the season award contention in Moutinho and Doherty.

Those fears were happily destroyed after less than twenty minutes as Wolves simply blew Cardiff away with some excellent passing and possession, and I am pleased to say, finishing.

After 20 minutes, it was a case of how many but we professionally saw the game out and won it in style. Nuno, as ever, in you we trust.

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