Wolverhampton Wanderers have survived a second-half comeback from Birmingham City to win 3-2 and escape the Championship drop zone.
In an action-packed West Midlands derby on Monday, Wolves jumped out to a 3-0 lead by half-time away to Birmingham but a second-half double from Wade Elliott ensured a nervous finish for the visitors.
Despite the home side’s second-half recovery, Wolves held on for their third consecutive victory, which took them to 18th on the Championship table, four positions above the relegation zone.
Wolverhampton started with high-intensity and took the lead after 20 minutes when Stephen Hunt fired home from the left-hand side of the penalty area.
Just seven minutes later and the visitors were two goals to the good at St Andrew’s when Sylvan Ebanks-Blake got free at the back post to head David Davis’ cross into the net from point-blank range.
In the 37th minute, Ebanks-Blake extended Wolves’ lead again, this time from the spot, after Birmingham goalkeeper Jack Butland brought down Wolverhampton captain Kevin Doyle in the penalty box.
After a terrible first-half performance in front of their own fans, Birmingham responded quickly after the break, putting Wolves on the back foot from the opening minute of the second half.
The hosts deservedly got on the scoresheet 10 minutes after half-time when Jamie O’Hara slid into Birmingham striker Wesley Thomas in the area and Elliott finished calmly from the spot.
Birmingham dominated the second half but wasteful finishing, particularly from Thomas, meant they failed to score again until Wolverhampton defender Jack Robinson handled the ball in the box in stoppage time.
Elliott’s penalty effort was saved by Dorus de Vries but the Birmingham midfielder knocked in the rebound, although it made little difference to the end result.
Wolves have won four of their past five games and moved up to 48 points, just one ahead of Huddersfield Town, who are in the relegation zone, while Birmingham remain 10th, eight points off the playoff positions.
Barnsley and Blackpool were other relegation-threatened clubs to win on Monday with the former defeating Leicester City 2-0 and the latter overcoming Crystal Palace 1-0.
Blackpool rose to 15th on 50 points, while Barnsley (47 points) joined Wolves outside the relegation zone in 20th.
Leaders Cardiff City bounced back from their shock loss away to Peterborough United on Saturday to thrash Blackburn Rovers 3-0, while a 97th-minute penalty from Lewis McGugan earned Nottingham Forest a 1-1 draw away to Burnley.
In other Championship results, Bristol City came from behind to pick up a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall against Ipswich Town remained scoreless.
Finally, in the late kick-off, Derby County came from behind to beat Leeds United 2-1 away from home.
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