Wolves go six points clear at the top and add to Leeds’ woes
Wanderers now 10 points clear of third-placed Aston Villa after win at Elland Road
Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Willy Boly (left) celebrates scoring his side’s second goal with team-mates during the Championship match against Leeds United at Elland Road. Photograph: Simon Cooper/PA Wire
Leeds United 0 Wolves 3
Championship leaders Wolves returned to form with a bang as they beat Leeds 3-0 at Elland Road to move a step closer to promotion.
Nuno Espirito Santo had seen his side’s rampant form stall in recent weeks following a three-match winless streak.
That run allowed nearest challengers Cardiff to cut the gap from 13 points to three, but Wolves doubled their advantage at the top courtesy of goals from Romain Saiss, Willy Boly and Benik Afobe during an impressive display.
Wanderers are also now 10 points clear of third-placed Aston Villa, who host their local rivals on Saturday evening.
Similar to the 3-0 defeat at Middlesbrough last Friday night, Leeds were again second best and saw their very slim playoff hopes go up in smoke.
Felix Wiedwald produced another shaky performance at the Riverside and head coach Paul Heckingbottom addressed his goalkeeping situation by dropping the German in favour of rookie Bailey Peacock-Farrell.
The 21-year-old, making only his second first-team start, soon settled his nerves by racing out to clear a hopeful long ball.
Leeds had the crowd engaged early on, hurrying Wolves with their pressing, but it was not long before Diogo Jota started to influence the game.
Clever work from the forward began a move which resulted in Peacock-Farrell parrying away Ivan Cavaleiro’s shot in the 20th minute.
Jota then missed a golden chance moments later when, with only Peacock-Farrell to beat, he failed to connect cleanly with a close-range tap-in from Matt Doherty’s low cross.
Leo Bonatini kneed over a Barry Douglas cross and Peacock-Farrell raced off his line to block a Jota chip as Wolves continued to dominate.
They eventually made their pressure count in the 28th minute as the unmarked Saiss headed in Douglas’s corner.
Peacock-Farrell denied Wolves again with a fine save at the feet of Bonatini following a flowing team move which cut the Leeds defence in half.
But he could do nothing about Boly doubling the visitors’ advantage on the stroke of half-time, the defender nodding in from close range after Danny Batth’s header came back off the crossbar from another Douglas corner.
Bonatini was denied a third by a clearance on the line at the start of the second half while Leeds defender Gaetano Berardi flashed a 25-yard shot just over.
Jota was almost rewarded with a goal his performance merited on the hour mark but his dipping shot cannoned back off the bar.
It was second-half substitute Afobe who sealed the win 16 minutes from time, racing onto a long ball over the top and chipping the onrushing Peacock-Farrell to leave Leeds with one win from their last 13 games in all competitions.