Outrageous Neves volley helps Wolves to within two points of promotion

Outrageous Neves volley helps Wolves to within two points of promotion
All six of Ruben Neves’ goals for Wolves this season have been from outside the box

Ruben Neves scored the goal of a lifetime as Wolves comfortably beat Derby County to move within two points of promotion to the Premier League.

Fellow Portuguese star Diogo Jota also scored as the Championship leaders damaged Derby’s hopes of securing a play-off place.

Jota’s neat early lob set Wolves on the way to a 15th home win of the season.

Neves then hammered a stunning 30-yard volley into the top corner shortly after the break to seal the win.

Wolves will now secure a return to the Premier League if they beat local rivals Birmingham City on Sunday.

But it could happen even sooner if second-placed Fulham fail to beat Brentford at home on Saturday.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s side will deservedly claim the Championship title if they pick up another four points from their remaining four fixtures.

Derby remain in fifth place on 68 points, within reach of a clutch of chasing clubs, but still with a game in hand – last month’s controversial postponement against Cardiff City.

Wolves began the night still needing a further five points to win back the Premier League place they lost in 2012. And, at a near-capacity Molineux, there never appeared much doubt that they would claim them.

It took just six minutes for them to take the lead when defender Willy Boly’s angled 40-yard lofted pass foxed the Rams defence sufficiently to leave Jota unmarked inside the penalty area 12 yards from goal.

And, with his back to goal, and only Carson for company, he impudently flicked the ball in the air before gently lifting a right-foot lob past the stranded keeper.

It could have been more by half-time. Instead, it took another six minutes at the start of the second half to truly light up a cold, wet night in the Black Country.

Taking delivery from a Derby half clearance 30 yards out, Neves flicked the ball up, took careful aim and drilled his dipping right-foot volley just under Scott Carson’s bar.

‘This is the spirit that we want’

Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo: “I think all the players are developing and getting better from what they were before.

“I think Neves still has a lot to improve. Not only Neves, all the squad. This is the spirit that we want. Day by day they have to work hard to improve.

“I think today was a good performance. The boys did well, they were well balanced and well organised.

“They did a very good job. We did not concede chances to a very good team. I am very pleased with the approach of the players.

“The game on Sunday means a lot to our fans and it means a lot to us. We have to be cautious. I am boring saying this bit – this is the truth.”

Derby boss Gary Rowett: “We found Wolves were a class above us. I don’t like saying that because we have got some very good players in our team.

“Their second goal was sensational. I have said it before but for me Neves is the best player I have seen in the Championship. He is too good for the Championship. He is a Champions League player.

“At one point I thought should I applaud that [the goal]. It would have felt wrong but that is how good it was.”

Neves’ volley in pictures

Ruben Neves flicks the ball up and strikes…
The ball flies towards goal from at least 30 yards…
Derby goalkeeper Scott Carson has no chance…
His Wolves team-mates are stunned by what they just saw

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