Neil Warnock will spend his 70th birthday a happy man after Cardiff City climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 2-1 win over Wolves.
Warnock turns 70 on Saturday and will mark his milestone birthday with a family get-together at a restaurant in the Welsh countryside, and the meal will taste all the sweeter after second-half goals from Aron Gunnarsson and Junior Hoilett completed yet another Cardiff comeback win.
Matt Doherty had marked his 200th league appearance for Wolves by opening the scoring after 18 minutes, but a fifth defeat in six games means Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have only picked up one point from a possible 18.
Cardiff have found some momentum in recent weeks and this was their third win from four home games, all of which they have fallen behind in.
This victory was secured by Hoilett’s 77th-minute thunderbolt, which gave goalkeeper Rui Patricio no chance and the Canadian forward his first Premier League goal since November 2012.
The two sides had last met as Championship promotion rivals in April when there was late drama on and off the pitch.
Cardiff missed two stoppage-time penalties as Wolves won 1-0 and Warnock and Nuno were involved in a furious bust-up at the final whistle.
Warnock was enraged by Nuno’s failure to shake hands with him as the visitors’ bench celebrated wildly, refusing the Wolves boss’ belated offer and later labelling the Portuguese a “total disgrace”.
Both managers said before the game that they had made peace and put that incident behind them, and Warnock made his way straight to the Wolves bench at kick-off to shake hands with Nuno and his backroom staff.
Warnock sprang a surprise by playing three at the back for the first time this season with the recalled Hoilett and Victor Camarasa starting high and wide.
Cardiff manufactured early half-chances but Wolves hit the front when Joao Moutinho’s corner was met by the head of Raul Jimenez.
Although Neil Etheridge reacted well to save, the loose ball ran for Doherty to finish firmly from a tight angle.
Wolves threatened to add to their lead but Adama Traore, making only his second league start following an £18million summer move from Middlesbrough, was let down by a heavy touch with Cardiff majorly outnumbered on the break.
Wolves were showing signs of comfort at the back apart from when Cardiff could get bodies into the box at a set-piece.
Sean Morrison caused confusion from one of these, and the ball squirmed out to Harry Arter for the on-loan midfielder to strike an upright from 20 yards.
Ruben Neves curled an effort just wide before Cardiff had penalty appeals waved away moments before half-time.
Callum Paterson went down in the area after being nudged in the back by Ruben Vinagre, although whether it was enough to send the burly Scotland striker crashing to the turf was questionable.
Paterson suffered more pain at the start of the second half but was able to resume after receiving treatment on a damaged shoulder.
Neves saw his swerving effort pushed to safety but Cardiff were level after 65 minutes.
Patricio, perhaps hampered by Paterson, failed to collect Arter’s up and under and Morrison nodded the ball on for Gunnarsson to volley home from close range.
It got even better for Cardiff 12 minutes later when Hoilett, out on the left edge of the penalty area and with little danger apparently lurking, dispatched an unstoppable shot to give Warnock the best birthday present possible.
Although it was a stunning finish from Hoilett, a lot of fans couldn’t help but notice, and laugh, at what Paterson did immediately after the goal.