Second-half goals from Bamba and Diagouraga seal the three points at Elland Road...
UNITED 2 (Bamba 60, Diagouraga 64), WOLVES 1 (Saville 77)
United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Coyle (Dallas 56), Diagouraga, Murphy (Bridcutt 80), Cook, Erwin (Botaka 74), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci, Phillips, Antenucci.
Wolves team: Ikeme, Iorfa, Batth, Hause, Doherty, Price, Saville Edwards, Henry, Helan (Le Fondre 55), Sigurdarson (Mason 73). Subs: Martinez, Deslandes, Coady, Enobakhare, Hunte.
Referee: David Coote
Booked: Iorfa (Wolves)
Att: 17,694 (478 Wolves)
The midweek visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the weekend’s 3-2 victory over Reading, with captain Sol Bamba returning from illness to replace Giuseppe Bellusci in defence, Lewie Coyle trading places with Stuart Dallas on the wing and Lee Erwin making his first United start in place of Mirco Antenucci in attack.
The two sides entered the penultimate Elland Road fixture of the 2015/16 campaign looking to boost their chances of securing a top-10 finish. With no real pressure on either team, though, it made for an open start to proceedings and chances were aplenty during the early exchanges.
Wolves were the first to threaten, George Saville firing wide from the edge of the area after meeting Jeremy Helan’s cutback, before Chris Wood, United’s match winner with a brace against Reading three days earlier, muscling his way through the visitors’ defence to rattle the outside of the post with a low strike at the opposite end.
Wolves’ best chance of the early stages fell to James Henry, with the winger found arriving unmarked at the back post by Bjorn Sigurdarson’s floated cross, only to scuff wide on the half-volley from six yards out.
Wood was looking United’s most likely source of an opening goal and this season’s top scorer hit a ferocious 25-yard free-kick just wide of Carl Ikeme’s far post before the Wolves ‘keeper was able to hold Wood’s volley from a Lewis Cook cross.
The New Zealand international was playing with an air of confidence after taking his tally into double figures at the weekend, and he carved another opening for himself on 34 minutes with a deft shimmy away from his marker on the edge of the area before firing wide.
United continued to enjoy the better of the first-half chances and Erwin was the next to threated, firing wide on the turn after taking Bamba’s cross-field pass on his chest on the stroke of half-time.
The two sides re-emerged unchanged from the break and the second period began in an equally as lively manner, with Wolves the first to come close through Matt Doherty’s strike, before Taylor’s 30-yard free-kick bounced wide of Ikeme’s far post.
United eventually broke the deadlock on the hour mark, and it came in spectacular fashion through the unlikely source of Bamba. Dallas, a replacement for Lewie Coyle moments earlier, spread the ball to the Leeds captain on the edge of the area, allowing him to control on his chest before unleashing a sensational half-volley into the top corner.
And things got even better just four minutes later, Toumani Diagouraga doubling the advantage with his second goal from as many matches with a sweeping finish from Cook’s low cross.
The hosts pushed in search of a third, with Ikeme holding Luke Murphy’s curling low effort after cutting inside on the edge of the area, but Wolves managed to pull one back against the run of play, Saville picking out the bottom corner with 13 minutes remaining to set up a potentially nervy finale.
United had introduced fresh legs shortly before conceding, Jordan Botaka making a rare appearance in place of Erwin, and the Congolese international was agonisingly close to putting the game to bed as his sweetly-struck first-time effort cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.
Wolves then pushed for an equaliser, substitute Joe Mason seeing his low strike blocked superbly by the legs of Silvestri, but Cook and Dallas had further chances to wrap it up late on as United were good value in making it three league victories in the space of a week.