Steven Fletcher bagged a priceless double as the Wolverhampton Wanderers striker inspired a 3-1 victory over local rivals West Bromwich Albion that lifted his side out of the relegation zone today.
Mick McCarthy's team kicked off in 19th place in the Premier League but two goals from Fletcher and an Adlene Guedioura strike put Wolves firmly in control before Peter Odemwingie's penalty briefly threatened to spark an Albion fightback.
Wolves' biggest win over their old enemies in ten years has left them one place and one point above the relegation zone and, after a season of struggles, they are finally in control of their own destiny with just two matches to play.
Wolves started on the offensive and Scott Carson was forced to turn aside a free-kick from Jamie O'Hara. From the corner, Scotland striker Fletcher put Wolves ahead with his tenth goal of the season and his third in the last four games. Stephen Hunt's centre was flicked on by Guedioura inside the six-yard box and Fletcher applied the finishing touch.
De ja vu double
Guedioura came close to doubling the lead when his free-kick curled just over the bar. But it came as no surprise when Wolves succeeded in achieving that after 27 minutes, in similar fashion to their first.
Hunt's corner was headed back across goal by Fletcher and the unmarked Guedioura volleyed past Carson from close range. Fletcher was causing constant problems in the air and he headed just wide from another O'Hara corner.
Wolves flew out of the blocks in the second half and extended their lead two minutes in after a mistake by Albion defender Abdoulaye Meite. Meite looked to have covered a through ball from Kevin Foley. But he allowed the ball to slip under his foot and left Fletcher with a clear run at goal and he kept his cool before clipping the ball past Carson into the corner of the net.
Odemwingie gave the Baggies a glimmer of hope from the penalty spot in the 55th minute. Guedioura brought down Thomas and Odemwingie planted the spot-kick into the corner of the net for his 15th goal of the season.
Albion could have reduced the deficit further when Thomas hammered his shot against the crossbar, while Somen Tchoyi should have done better than head over from a good position. Ward could have made it 4-1 but the Wolves midfielder pulled his shot wide with only Carson to beat.