Wolverhampton 3 Sheffield United 0: No disgrace to lose to Championship leaders, insists Wilder

Sheffield United's Simon Moore reacts after being sent off.
Sheffield United's Simon Moore reacts after being sent off.
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Wolves seized a commanding 11-point lead at the top of the Sky Bet Championship with a clinical 3-0 win against 10-man Sheffield United at Molineux.

The hosts set up their 21st victory of the season by taking the lead in the fifth minute through Ruben Neves, with Diogo Jota’s 13th goal this term doubling their advantage on the half hour.

Diogo Jota celebrates his goal with team mate Barry Douglas.

Diogo Jota celebrates his goal with team mate Barry Douglas.

Ivan Cavaleiro’s 76th-minute free-kick rubber-stamped the points after United goalkeeper Simon Moore had been sent off for his challenge on Jota just outside the area.

While Wolves are heading for the top flight, United’s own promotion hopes are fading fast.

They have only won two of their last 13 league games and are now five points adrift of the top six.

United manager Chris Wilder admitted the visitors had been beaten by the better team.

Wilder said: “We have got no complaints. They are a fantastic side and they have done it to other teams as much as they have done it to us.

“We stuck as it and tried to find a way to get back but they had too much for us on the day. I take my hat off to the players that they have got and where they are going.

“But I have got to say when we stepped into the division people talked about this happening to us every three or four games and it has taken until February 3 for someone to do that to us.

“No-one has done that to us all season so credit to my players in terms of what they have done for the previous 25 games, and credit to the opposition and the way that they played.

“No heads dropped out there, because if heads drop that turns into a four, five or six defeat if they did and they didn’t.

“It was important that my players stuck in and they did that. It is no disgrace to lose to a team who are one of the best Championship teams there has been for a long, long time.”

Wolves almost broke the deadlock after only two minutes when Cavaleiro surged past central defender Chris Basham.

Cavaleiro then delivered a perfect cross for Helder Costa, whose first-time volley flashed inches wide of the post.

The lively Cavaleiro may have been out of luck in creating a goal on that occasion, but he did have a hand in Wolves taking the lead in spectacular style shortly after through Neves.

Cavaleiro again cut in from the left wing and although he was tackled the loose ball fell kindly to Neves.

He took a quick look up before curling home a right-footed shot from 25 yards that flew past the outstretched hand of Moore and into the net off the top of a post.

United, who handed a first start to Ricky Holmes after his recent arrival from Charlton, struggled to mount a threat and their task became even harder when Cavaleiro played creator again to tee up Jota.

Matt Doherty crossed from the right wing to pick out Jota on the edge of the area.

He rolled the ball to Cavaleiro, whose return pass was then turned into the bottom corner by Jota.

United did try and rally before half-time, with long-range efforts from James Wilson and former Wolves midfielder Lee Evans, but they both came to nothing.

John Fleck then finally forced Wolves goalkeeper John Ruddy into action from a free-kick nine minutes into the second half before Holmes sliced wide from the edge of the area when well placed.

The Blades’ hopes of fighting back were then extinguished completely after the dismissal of Moore for his challenge on Jota.

From the resulting free-kick, Cavaleiro’s shot was deflected past substitute rookie goalkeeper Jake Eastwood, whose first task was to pick the ball out of the back of the net.

Wolves handed a late outing to returning striker Benik Afobe following his loan switch from Bournemouth and he almost made an instant impact only to see his 84th-minute header drift wide.