By Andrew Cawthorne
March 2 - - Wolverhampton Wanderers shook off their recent poor Premier League form to ease past Cardiff City 2-0 on Saturday and leave the Welsh team in the relegation zone after a third straight defeat.
Desperate for a win to help their quest for Premier League survival, Neil Warnock's side started strongly with plenty of possession and could have had the first goal when Wolves keeper John Ruddy fumbled the ball on the line from a corner.
But Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolves showed why they are seventh in the Premier League, quickly imposing their fast-breaking and slick-passing game in front of an appreciative crowd of 31,309 at the Molineux stadium.
Portuguese striker Diogo Jota smashed in the first goal from close range in the 16th minute after great link-up play and an assist by fellow forward Raul Jimenez. Two minutes later, Jota repaid the favour, laying up the ball for Mexican Jimenez to fire into the bottom left-hand corner for 2-0.
"To be honest, I was stood there 15 minutes gone thinking I've never been as comfortable at Wolves, the crowd were restless, then within two minutes we were 2-0 down," Warnock said.
"We committed suicide... stupid goals."
Wolves, who squandered numerous chances for a bigger scoreline, needed the result after a surprise mid-week defeat at Huddersfield and two draws in their previous league outings.
Cardiff, who came up from the Championship with Wolves last year, now sit third from bottom in the Premier League, with a worrying 10 goals conceded in their last three games and a two-point gap from Southampton in 17th.
The gulf between them and Wolves was illustrated in the first half when Jota cheekily put the ball between the legs of Cardiff's burly Icelandic midfielder Aron Gunnarsson, who looked bemused.
Jota, who was substituted in the second half, has now been involved in nine goals in his last seven games in all competitions at Molineux, scoring five and assisting four.
The win gave Wolves 43 points after 29 games -- their highest ever haul in the Premier League in a fantastic season for the central English club rejuvenated under their Portuguese manager.
On the wings, Ruben Vinagre and Adama Traore terrorised Cardiff all afternoon with their pace and trickery.
But the demanding Nuno was disappointed Wolves did not score more. "I wasn't too pleased with the second half, we must do better when we have superiority," he said.
Warnock complained that Wolves defender Ryan Bennett should have been sent off for a second yellow card, but said Cardiff had to look at themselves for solutions.
"We've got to stop feeling sorry for ourselves and make our own luck. We're not scoring goals and we're conceding silly goals, it's a bad recipe, isn't it? It's a gloomy situation."
(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne and Oliver Cawthorne; Editing by Clare Fallon)