Cardiff’s relegation worries mount as slick Wolves seal comfortable win
Jota and Jimenez scored in the first half as Wolves won at a canter.
Quickfire goals from Diogo Jota and Raul Jimenez piled the relegation pressure on Cardiff as slick Wolves claimed a routine win.
The duo struck in the first half to ensure the hosts broke their Premier League points record with a 2-0 victory.
Wolves sit seventh on 43 points as they continue to chase Europe, having lost just four times in their last 19 games in all competitions, reaching the FA Cup quarter finals in the process.
Cardiff have now shipped 10 goals in their last three games and also lost Sol Bamba to injury.
Neil Warnock’s side remain third bottom, two points from the Premier League safety line, after a third straight defeat, with Aron Gunnarsson wasting their best chances.
Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo took the unusual step of announcing 24 hours before the game John Ruddy would start instead of Rui Patricio as he prepared the goalkeeper for the FA Cup last-eight clash with Manchester United in two weeks.
It was 1,021 days since Ruddy’s last Premier League appearance – for Norwich – and he was clearly rusty.
While he had played in the cups, his near three-year top-flight absence almost started in embarrassing fashion when he came close to fumbling Gunnarsson’s volley over the line after six minutes.
It had been a bright start from Cardiff, but their game plan was blown apart as Wolves scored twice in 134 seconds.
First a slick 16th-minute move carved the Bluebirds apart as Jota, Morgan Gibbs-White and Jimenez popped the ball about in midfield.
Gibbs-White eventually slipped in Jimenez and he squared for Jota to sweep pass the exposed Neil Etheridge from 12 yards.
Then, two minutes later, Jota returned the favour.
Jimenez caught the dawdling Bamba in possession to race down the left and cross for Jota at the far post.
The forward’s control earned him space and he knocked the ball back for Jimenez to bury from six yards.
Having ridden out early pressure Wolves were in control, with live-wire Jota threatening to pull Cardiff apart.
A third almost arrived after 33 minutes when Leander Dendoncker inadvertently diverted Gibbs-White’s effort on to a post and saw Etheridge turn his follow-up over.
Cardiff’s slapdash defending was contributing to their downfall and their afternoon got worse when Bamba was carried off in first-half stoppage-time after injuring his left knee fouling Adama Traore.
Gunnarsson still had time to drive just wide, but the Bluebirds already looked beaten.
Jota was replaced by Matt Doherty two minutes into the second half, which blunted the hosts’ threat.
It took until the 63rd minute for them to seriously threaten again when Ruben Vinagre broke, swapped passes with Jimenez and forced Etheridge into a smart stop.
Wolves were in control, though, and only a fine save from Etheridge stopped Jimenez making it 3-0 after Doherty’s bustling run with 16 minutes remaining.
The goalkeeper kept Wolves at bay and also denied Vinagre late on after the full-back’s fierce drive.