Impressive Bluebirds win again
Nathaniel Mendez-Laing continued his hot scoring streak as Cardiff edged a thrilling top-of-the-Championship encounter at Wolves.
The winger claimed his fifth goal in four games to maintain Cardiff’s 100% start to the season, while at the same time ending Wolves’ perfect record.
Joe Ralls had broken the deadlock after half-time with a well-placed shot.
Leo Bonatini levelled after an error by Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge, but Mendez-Laing ended Wolves hopes.
Both sides came into the match having won all three of their opening Championship games this season.
Wolves impressed midweek by winning 3-2 at Hull City, with Championship record signing Ruben Neves – a £15.8m capture from Porto – claiming his first goal for his new club.
But in seeing off Aston Villa 3-0 in their second game of the campaign, Cardiff’s far less expensively assembled squad had proved they could match the big spenders in the division.
That was underlined as the visitors set the early pace and the reflexes of John Ruddy were tested, when the Wolves goalkeeper had to get down smartly to push Junior Hoilett’s shot around the post.
Then from the resulting corner Sol Bamba crashed a header off the crossbar when the defender was left unmarked in the box.
But Wolves held firm and gave warning of their own threat when Bright Enobakhare shot just wide.
Despite the attacking intent being shown by both sides, the first half ended scoreless but with both benches involved in an angry exchange after Loic Damour’s foul on Romain Saiss – for which the Cardiff midfielder was booked.
The goal the game deserved finally came within nine minutes of the restart, but to the disappointment of the majority of the 27,068 fans packed into Molineux it was claimed by the visitors.
Hoilett found a chink of space to roll the ball across goal and Ralls sent it left-footed back past Ruddy into the far corner.
The Wolves stopper kept his team in the game, though, when he denied Kenneth Zohore what would have been a fine solo goal.
That proved crucial as the home side drew level moments later, when Cardiff keeper Etheridge could only push out a shot and Barry Douglas swept the ball back in for Bonatini to poke home.
Leo Bonatini’s equaliser had seemed set to earn Wolves a share of the points
But with 13 minutes remaining the dangerous Zohore, whose strength and pace had stretched the Wolves defence all afternoon, unselfishly picked out fellow speedster Mendez-Laing – a former Wolves academy player – to drive home the winner.
The win set another record for Cardiff, who before this campaign had never won their opening three games of the season and have now won four in a row.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo on Damour’s foul:
“He was two metres away from me. I saw an elbow in the neck of Saiss. If you ask me (should he have been sent off), yes.
“Cardiff’s game plan was to be aggressive. We have to be mentally strong to deal with this kind of provocation.
“We made too many mistakes for a team that wants to be strong.”
Cardiff manager Neil Warnock:
“It was a cracking game, a typical Championship match. Two sides really having a go at each other.
“We didn’t come to defend, we came to attack as much as we could really.
“Obviously we had to have a plan because Wolves have steamrollered every team they have played so far.”
Mendez Laing 8.5
Ward for Hoilett (83 mins)
Manga for Damour (90 mins)