This felt like an unwelcome reminder for Wolves as to just how unforgiving the Premier League can be. Nuno Espírito Santo and the club have high expectations for this season and on another day they could easily have come away from Leicester with their first top-flight victory since 2012.
Instead Wolves were left to rue the combination of their profligacy in front of goal, the woodwork and some misfortune at the other end of the pitch as Leicester collected three points despite finishing the game with 10 men.
Jamie Vardy was dismissed midway through the second half following a robust challenge on Matt Doherty, whose own goal had put Leicester ahead against the run of play. Vardy got the ball first as he lunged with his left boot but it was the reckless nature of the follow-through – he clattered into Doherty – that prompted Mike Dean to brandish a straight red card. Doherty was unable to continue and Vardy will serve an automatic three-match ban.
For Wolves there was no way back into a game that had drifted away from them towards the end of the first half, when James Maddison marked his home debut with a deflected goal that doubled Leicester’s lead and gave Claude Puel’s side much-needed breathing space.
Wolves kept pressing, with the introduction of the electric Adama Traoré adding a new dimension to their attacking play; yet it rather summed up their afternoon when Jonny Castro Otto became the third visiting player to hit the woodwork when he struck the outside of the post 10 minutes from time.
Espírito Santo spoke later about the need for his team to be more “ruthless and clinical‚“ – Doherty had a great chance inside the opening five minutes when Ben Chilwell blocked his close-range shot from Raúl Jiménez’s cutback – and the Wolves manager also expressed his frustration that his players failed to put Leicester under more pressure in the final 20 minutes or so, when they never made their numerical advantage count.
“Disappointed with the result,” he said. “We started the game very well, we were totally in control, creating chances, playing good, managing the game.
“But in that moment we should score, we had chances enough to do it, so we have to work on that – it’s one thing that we have to improve because it totally changes the dynamic of the game.
“And in the other box we didn’t have luck – the game is like that. But the second half, playing against 10 men, we should do more.”
Puel suggested Leicester have no intention of appealing against Vardy’s red card and said the striker, who was stretching for a ball that was running away from him when he went into the tackle with Doherty, showed “too much enthusiasm”.
It was the sort of challenge that may well have gone unpunished 20 years ago but the game has moved on. “It was not aggressive and he has been unlucky,” the Leicester manager said.
Wolves were certainly unlucky in that promising spell at the start. João Moutinho swept a right-footed shot from 20 yards against the crossbar, then came that Doherty opportunity little more than 60 seconds later.
It was a reprieve for Leicester and there was another when Jiménez, afforded the time and space to turn, thumped a rising 22-yard shot that cannoned off the near post with Kasper Schmeichel beaten.
Leicester looked a little shell-shocked in that opening period but they got the break they badly needed shortly before the half-hour mark.
Marc Albrighton flung a hopeful cross into the area from wide on the right, Conor Coady could only glance the ball on and Doherty, the Wolves right wing-back, was unable to react quickly enough and sent a bullet header beyond Rui Patrício.
Coady, rather unfortunately, was also involved in Leicester’s second goal. Ricardo Pereira, Leicester’s £20m summer signing from Porto, burst forward from right-back and chose the perfect moment to release a pass inside to Maddison, whose curling shot from the edge of the area brushed off Coady to take the ball beyond the goalkeeper.
It was a blow from which Wolves never recovered.