Two first-half goals from Grant Holt were enough as Norwich came from a goal down to beat Wolves 2-1 at Carrow Road on Saturday.
A sublime one-on-one finish and a penalty gave the hosts their first win in four games after Matt Jarvis opened the scoring, but Holt also saw red late on for two bookable offenses.
Simon Lappin made only his second league start this season for the Canaries in place of the experienced Adam Drury at left wing back, with Simeon Jackson starting alongside top-scorer Holt up front.
For Wolves, Roger Johnson earned a recall to the first team due to the suspension of Ronald Zubar, while Kevin Doyle partnered Steven Fletcher in a two-man attack for Terry Connors’ goal-shy side.
The visitors started brightly in the sunshine at Carrow Road. Stephen Ward fizzed a shot just wide of the post, and Michael Kightly marked his return to the starting lineup with a teasing free kick which eluded everyone in the box.
The hosts responded promptly and the returning Zak Whitbread almost broke the deadlock after 10 minutes, but his header under pressure from the center of the box was cleared off the line at the far post.
The pace began to lull midway through the half, with both sides seemingly reluctant to push forward and leave themselves open at the back after recent poor defensive records.
Then – just as the supporters inside Carrow Road were beginning to become frustrated – the visitors broke the deadlock.
Kightly drove down the right flank and cut the ball back across goal. Doyle stuck out a foot to poke the ball towards the penalty spot for Jarvis, who arrived unmarked to stroke the ball home past John Ruddy.
It was exactly the break that Connor and Co. needed after their recent run, but within two minutes, the match was level after a glorious finish from Holt.
Jackson lofted the ball over the heads of the back four for the striker to run on to, and the Canaries captain lifted the ball over the head of the onrushing Wayne Hennessey before nodding the ball in to the empty net.
It was a finish which Lionel Messi would have been proud to call his own, and was a mark of the confident play synonymous with Paul Lambert’s side this season.
The hosts began to push for a second with Holt slicing an ambitious volley well wide of the post. Moments later, Jackson almost connected with a header inside the six yard box, but Wolves scrambled the ball away as they fought to hang on to parity in the match.
Kightly looked dangerous throughout the first half and almost carved out a good chance for the visitors when his deflected cross was hacked away by Elliot Ward, with Doyle waiting to pounce.
Wolves had the greater possession for much of the half, but the end product was lacking and with just a minute left on the clock before the interval, they found themselves a goal down.
Wes Hoolahan’s curling effort from the edge of the area was blocked by the outstretched arm of Eggert Jonsson. The referee gave a penalty, and Holt stepped up to blast the spot kick down the middle to give his side the lead at halftime.
Connor sent his side out early for the second half, clearly hoping to have it pumped up for a comeback, but it was Norwich which carved out the best opening after the restart.
Jackson was played through by Johnny Howson, but seemed to have too much time in the penalty area and ultimately dithered on the ball until he was dispossessed.
Wolves rallied and enjoyed a solid 15-minute spell of pressure, but again they failed to convert possession into end product and Norwich defended comfortably.
Jonsson then almost made amends for the penalty with a 30-yard effort which had Ruddy back-peddling, and Howson came close to adding a third for Norwich moments later, but his left-foot drive flashed over after a great solo run into the box.
Holt was perhaps lucky to escape punishment after he aimed a forearm at Johnson, but the referee opted to put the Wolves defender in his notebook for a soft retaliatory foul.
It would have been particularly bitter for the visitors had Holt connected with Hoolahan’s cross moments later, but he missed the chance for his hat trick by mere inches as the ball flashed across the box.
Wolves were desperate for a way back into the match, with Jarvis looking most likely to deliver, but Whitbread and Bennet defended superbly with whatever the England international could throw at them.
The hosts continued to look threatening on the counterattack and they almost made the points safe when Howson was teed up after good work from Hoolahan, but Hennessey beat out the shot and the ball was scrambled clear.
Holt picked up a second yellow card and received his marching orders with five minutes to go, but despite late pressure Wolves failed to carve out an equaliser and Norwich held on for the points.