Wolves 2-1 Sunderland
SUNDERLAND LOST an incident-packed game at Molineux, leaving Martin O`Neill in no uncertain terms as to the magnitude of the task he is facing at the Stadium of Light.
Kieran Richardson opened the scoring in a second-half with a left-footed pinger before Sebastian Larsson missed a controversial penalty. Wolves then immediately equalised on the counter through Steven Fletcher before the Scottish forward grabbed his second on the break once more a handful of minutes later to wrap up victory for the hosts.
Former Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy went with both Kevin Doyle and Steven Fletcher up front whilst ex-Sunderland skipper Jody Craddock partnered Christoph Berra at the back. Club captain Roger Johnson dropped down to the bench.
Eric Black threw caution to the wind with his team selection, picking young South Korean forward Ji Dong-Won up top with Nicklas Bendtner for his first league start of the season. With Michael Turner injured, Kieran Richardson slotted back into left-back with Stephane Sessegnon moving back into left midfield.
John O`Shea and Sessegnon both tested Wolves 'keeper Wayne Hennessey early on, the latter with a right-footed volley caught flush following Bendtner`s knock-down.
Sunderland survived a scare in the eighth minute when Jamie O`Hara thrashed a volley goalwards following a corner, only for Wes Brown to block on the line. The ball deflected to Fletcher who`s close-range header was caught by Westwood on the line.
Brown was in action at the other end not long after, heading goalwards from Sebastian Larsson`s corner. Meanwhile, John O`Shea was being wrestled to the floor by Berra.
Wolves broke out quickly following Hennessey`s save and saw Fletcher poke a left-wing cross straight at Westwood. The former Burnley forward was rightly flagged offside though.
A quickly-taken Wolves free-kick fell to O`Hara outside the area but his low drive was claimed by a sprawling Westwood.
In the 39th minute Wolves should have been ahead when Matt Jarvis` right-wing cross was met at the far post by Stephen Hunt who got solid contact but saw his effort palmed away at point-blank range by Westwood.
Sunderland then saw their own gilt-edged chance go amiss when Sessegnon shifted between two static Wolves` defenders before nudging goalwards, Stephen Ward on hand to block the low effort.
Bendtner had the first chance of the second period, choosing to slash wide when well place, instead of releasing the unmarked Larsson down the right-hand side of the penalty area.
In the 51st minute, Sunderland took the lead thanks to an incisive breakaway. With Sessegnon breaking down the left from Bendtner`s flick-on, Ji and Richardson broke in support of the Benin midfielder. Sessegnon elected to go left and found Richardson who unleashed a left-footed thunderbolt which flew past Hennessey at the near-post.
Sunderland could have had a second 10 minutes after when Hennessey raced out to clear in a haphazard manner, the ball instead falling to a Wolves defender to clear with the Welsh 'keeper stranded.
In the 72nd minute, Larsson won a penalty for the Black Cats with an outrageous dive, the foul itself looked to have possibly been outside the area, marginally, anyway.
Larsson stepped up to see a low right-footed effort held well by Hennessey diving to his left - justice was served.
From Hennessey`s clearance, Wolves tore up the opposite end with Fletcher on hand to stoop and meet Jarvis` left-wing cross for the leveller.
With 10 minutes to go, Bendtner saw a low effort blocked well at the near post by Hennessey, having collected sub Ahmed Elmohamady`s pass inside.
Seconds later, Wolves broke once again and Fletcher droved a half-volley past Westwood. The big Scot assisted by the hand of O`Hara which helped the ball into his path.
Wolves: Hennessey, Zubar, Craddock (Johnson), Berra; Ward (c); Jarvis, O'Hara, Edwards, Hunt (Hammill); Fletcher & Doyle (Ebanks-Blake).
Subs not used: Elokobi, Stearman, Milijas & De Vries (gk).
Sunderland: Westwood, Bardsley, Brown, O'Shea, Richardson; Larsson, Cattermole (c), Colback, Sessegnon (Noble); Ji (Elmohamady) & Bendtner.
Subs not used: Gardner, Vaughan, Bramble, Carson (gk) & McClean.
Referee:Mr P Dowd