EVERYONE can do with a bit of luck now and again, but Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray might have been tempted to buy a few scratchcards on his way home from the Riverside on Saturday.
Two late goals, the first of which was a questionable penalty, gave Boro the points against a dogged Wolvers side who bossed for long spells of the game.
And if Mowbray was feeling a bit fortunate to see the goals go in, he will have been even happier to hear that leaders Cardiff City were beaten by bottom side Peterborough United in Wales.
A penalty from Marvin Emnes after Karl Henry was deemed to have handled a Scott McDonald cross and a break-away strike from the Aussie hitman put Boro just three points off the top of the Championship.
Beating the recently-relegated side, who had won their previous two games, has set up the Teessiders well for a busy festive period – starting with Leeds United away on Saturday.
“It was a huge result for us,” said the Boro boss, who will be hoping the good luck can continue into 2013.
“It wasn’t the most fluid or polished we have played all season, but that doesn’t matter now. We can’t play well every week, but it wasn’t exactly daylight robbery.”
Boro had started the brighter with Luke Williams almost poking a perfect through ball from Josh McEachran past former Boro loanee Carl Ikeme.
McEachran dictated the early play but chances were few and far between and Wolves were able to gradually get a foothold in the game.
Bakary Sako was a constant thorn in Boro’s side as he repeatedly cut in from the left wing. He brought out two good saves from Jason Steele from distance and fired a free-kick narrowly wide.
The second half seemed to be following the same pattern as Richie Smallwood and Williams could only conjure up tame efforts on goal.
It was a flat affair, so Mowbray changed it up with an hour gone as he introduced more flair in Emnes and Emmanuel Ledesma.
Both substitutes managed to force Ikeme into saves, albeit from distance. Yet it was still the away side who looked the more likely to snatch a goal.
The gave seemed to be petering out to a 0-0 draw when McDonald swung in a cross from the right wing and the ball struck Henry on his right side. To the surprise of many, the linesman furiously waved his flag to indicate a handball.
Wolves players were livid and protested with referee Robert Madley, but replays suggested the away side’s captain had leaned towards the ball before it struck his right arm.
Emnes kept his composure to send Ikeme the wrong way.
The Dutchman then helped seal the result just minutes later in a ruthless counter-attack. He carried the ball through the centre of the pitch and it was three on two as he rolled the ball to his right for McDonald to blast past Ikeme.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Friend (Parnaby 80), Woodgate, Hines, Hoyte, L Williams (Emnes 62), McEachran, Leadbitter, Smallwood, Miller (Ledesma 62), McDonald. Subs: Leutwiler, Thomson, Bailey, Jutkiewicz. Booked: Leadbitter. Goals: Emnes 89 pen, McDonald 90.
Wolves: Ikeme, Foley, Johnson, Berra, Ward, Doumbia (Davis 74), Henry, Sigurdarson, Sako, Ebanks-Blake (Pennant 74), Doyle. Subs: De Vries, Stearman, Nouble, Batth, Forde.
Att: 15,662 Ref: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire).