The second half saw Ruben Neves and Matt Doherty dismissed, but first-half goals from Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro enabled them to claim their first win at Middlesbrough since 1951 despite Patrick Bamford’s goal.
While manager Tony Pulis was happy with the way in which his players retained their composure as the leaders lost their heads, he was disappointed they lacked the clinical edge required to exploit their numerical advantage.
Pulis said: “When they got the (first) player sent off we needed to score a goal early because the momentum then would have carried us through. But the opportunities and chances didn’t really come, partly through a bit of good fortune on their part and partly because of a bit of poor quality from us at times. It just wasn’t enough.
“It was a difficult game for the referee for all sorts of reasons, not just the challenges. Stuart (Attwell) has done what he’s seen, he’s a top referee, and he’s managed it and run it the way he’s seen it.
“With nine men you can still put people behind the ball and make it difficult. We just needed that little bit of quality. We needed someone just to do something a little bit special.
“Patrick (Bamford) had a great chance, from a great ball through, but he fell over the pass. If he had taken that forward and finished, then it would have given us more time. We wanted that goal to come earlier.”
Middlesbrough: Randolph, Shotton (Cranie 70), Ayala, Gibson, Friend, Clayton (Assombalonga 70), Leadbitter (Howson 63), Besic, Traore, Bamford, Downing. Unused substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Fry, Harrison, Baker.
Wolves: Ruddy, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Doherty, Saiss, Neves, Douglas, Helder Costa (Gibbs-White 84), Afobe (Leo Bonatini 63), Ivan Cavaleiro (N’Diaye 58). Unused substitutes: Batth, Ruben Vinagre, Hause, Norris.
Referee: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).