Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 Brentford

Runaway Championship leaders Wolves surged 12 points clear with three second-half goals to see off play-off hopefuls Brentford.

After a string of first-half near misses, Wolves had to wait 57 minutes to take the lead from a superb Ruben Neves right-foot free-kick.

Two minutes later, Barry Douglas thumped home with his right foot from Ivan Cavaleiro’s low right-wing cross.

Diogo Jota scrambled in a late third from a prone position on the ground.

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Brentford had won all three of their previous Christmas games, but it rapidly became clear they would have a tough job on their hands to make it four at Molineux.

Although a threat on the break, they somehow reached half-time still all-square as Leo Bonatini was denied by the post, Bees captain Nico Yennaris headed off the line from Jota and Daniel Bentley made three fine saves to deny Matt Doherty, Helder Costa and Jota’s fizzing hit.

But again, just as at Ashton Gate on Saturday, the second-half arrival of the dangerous Cavaleiro proved the turning point.

Three minutes later, Midlander Ryan Woods’ attempted clutch at Jota’s shorts proved doubly costly as he was booked and Neves fired in a fine strike from the resulting free-kick.

Then Cavaleiro cleverly set up left-back Douglas’s dazzling effort, which was delivered with his ‘wrong’ foot. Ten minutes from time, Jota completed the scoring with Wolves’ 50th goal of the season to send the hosts 14 points clear of third place.

Wolves head coach Nuno told BBC Sport:

“It was a tough game against a tough side and we had to wait for the goals to come.

“We had some good chances in the first half and their goalkeeper made some good saves.

“These guys have played a lot of games but we worked hard and keeping our shape was very important.”

Brentford manager Dean Smith told BBC Sport:

“They pulled Costa off and then could put Cavaleiro on. That’s what you can do when you have £40m to spend. They should make a difference.

“Dan Bentley’s pulled off some very good saves to keep it at 0-0 and I was almost surprised to see the free-kick go in as he very rarely gets beaten from that distance.

“They showed their class in the way they finished. But, in the end, it was the manner of the way we conceded that disappointed me.”