League leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers demonstrated why they top the table with a comfortable victory over Reading who put in an industrious display which wasn't good enough to halt their hosts at Molineux.
- Wolves unlock Reading defence at end of first half with Matt Doherty header
- Afobe turns home a second before the hour, latching onto Costa's low cross and applying the finish
- Doherty makes it 3-0 with a bottom corner finish as league leader press home dominance.
Royals boss Jaap Stam made two changes to the team that drew at home against Leeds United - bringing in former Wolves midfielder Dave Edwards and Tyler Blackett for Liam Kelly and John Swift who missed out on the trip to Molineux. Yann Kermorgant and Andy Rinomhota returned to the squad, while Chris Martin remained absent through illness.
With the game just three minutes old, Mo Barrow was tripped by Willy Boly on the edge of the box and Sone Aluko's set piece deflected up off a Wolves head and over the crossbar for a corner which Wolves saw clear.
The home side began to build some pressure though, keeping the ball well and winning a succession of corners on both right and left. And a Barry Douglas free kick was too deep for everyone, sailing behind for a goal kick a quarter of an hour in.
Anssi Jaakkola was called into action, diving to his left to parry a shot from Helder Costa moments later, the rebound ricocheting off an offside Wolves body in the box.
The hosts had to replace Diogo Jota with Ivan Cavaleiro following a clash with Pelle Clement midway through the half, but Jaakkola was called upon once more as a header back across the Royals box was glanced goalwards by Afobe only for the Finn to arch his back and claw it away off his goalline.
Ryan Bennett took aim from 25 yards out but his effort sailed harmlessly over. However, the league leaders did take the lead before half-time. A cross from the right was nodded back from the far post by Cavaleiro and Matt Doherty directed a second header into the Royals net for 1-0.
Reading's disciplined first half display had been undone by that header and after five minutes of injury time, the Royals went into the dressing room a goal down.
Half time | Wolves 1-0 Reading
The first chance of the second period fell to the feet of Afobe, Doherty running onto a one-two to earn space down the right to cross and pick out Afobe in the middle. He snatched at the shot though and scuffed his strike wide of the left upright.
And Wolves came close to a second soon after when Gunter clattered into Afobe on the edge of the box to concede a free kick which Douglas arced inches wide of the woodwork via a deflection off a Reading head in the wall.
But the home side were enjoying the vast majority of the ball and they did double their advantage when a long ball down the right saw Costa beat Jaakkola to the ball, scurry along the byline and cut the ball back for Afobe, who drilled an effort past the Finn from the edge of the six yard box.
A well-drilled Wanderers side with a wealth of talent to draw upon were comfortable in their lead and while Reading continued to work exceptionally hard, there didn't seem any way back into a game the league leaders were bossing.
And it was 3-0 when a sublime passing move was teed up by Cavaleiro and drilled low into the bottom left corner by Doherty from the edge of the Royals' box.
Moore did well to hack clear a low skidding Cavaleiro cross with 13 minutes remaining, while at the other end Sam Smith replaced Bodvarsson for the final stages.
The referee intercepted a Reading free kick that was being worked across the edge of the Wolves box but the visitors got back in numbers to halt a counter attack handed to them.
A perfect crossfield pass found Douglas on the left whose first touch took him past the backtracking Aluko and into the box. Jaakkola was alive to it though and he leapt full stretch at the Wolves man's feet to snuff out the chance.
Jaakkola produced a double save to deny Costa a fourth in injury time, but the three points were to stay at Molineux and Wolves deservedly stay top of the table.
Full time | Wolves 3-0 Reading
Wolves: Ruddy, Boly, Coady (c), Bennett, Douglas, Doherty, Neves, Saiss (N'Diaye 78), Costa, Jota (Cavaleiro 26), Afobe (Bonatini 72).
Subs: Norris, Batth, Cavaleiro, Gibbs-White, Miranda.
Goals: Doherty 41, 73, Afobe 59
Reading: Jaakkola, Blackett, Gunter, Moore, Ilori, Evans (Bacuna 63), Edwards, Clement, Aluko, Barrow, Bodvarsson (Smith 83).
Subs: Mannone, Rinomhota, Holmes, Loader, Kermorgant.
Yellow: Gunter, Evans
Referee: Mr R Jones