RED hot Diogo Jota fired Wolves top of the Championship.
The Atletico Madrid loan star ripped Aston Villa apart as Nuno’s side looked every inch promotion candidates.
Wolves want to make 20-year-old Jota’s move permanent in January with a £14 million deal.
Jota was simply too much for Villa as he grabbed his sixth goal in the last seven games and set up Wolves’ second for sub Leo Bonatini.
He opened the scoring after 54 minutes when Ivan Cavaleiro’s cross fell perfectly for Jota and he teed the ball before scoring with a powerful drive.
The Portugal Under-21 star has netted seven goals this season – and on this evidence he could fire Wolves back to the Premier League.
Villa went into the game on the back of four successive wins – they were eight unbeaten – but this was always going to be a test of their chances of going up.
For the moment, Villa are falling short – but slick Wolves were on top of their game always looked like taking the points.
Jota looked to have scored another – after a 20 pass move – but a superb save from Johnstone denied him as Wolves threatened to run riot.
Wolves fans are also sensing something special is happening under Nuno as his side moved two points clear at the top.
The derby clash attracted 30,239 – a record at the rebuilt Molineux and the biggest crowd for a Wolves home game since 1981.
There was a bad tempered edge to the game from the start and Wolves defender Rod Miranda and Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia were both spoken to after squaring up off the ball.
But Wolves looked the more dangerous before the break and Alan Hutton – filling in at left-back – made a superb tackle to take the ball off Helder Costa in the area as he was about to unleash his shot.
Seconds later, Rob Snodgrass was booked for a tackle on Ivan Cavaleiro on the edge of the box and ref Tim Robinson had his work cut out to keep a lid on the game.
From the free-kick, Wolves skipper Danny Batth headed just wide of the far post.
Both sides reckoned they might have had penalties with Costa going down for Wolves and Kodjia bundled over in the area but Robinson said no.
Villa struggled to cope with Wolves’ pacy frontman and Diogo Jota threatened after 25 minutes.
But Miranda came close when he fired just wide from 20 yards out.
Nuno was becoming increasingly frustrated with the officials’ decisions and was unhappy again when Matt Doherty went down in the box after tangling with Albert Adomah.
Wolves’ record £15million signing Ruben Neves then produced a 25 yard shot which was punched clear by keeper Sam Johnstone.
Ref Robinson needed eyes in the back of his head with both sides niggling at each other. But Conor Hourihane was booked after blocking off Cavaleiro with Wolves threatening again.
Wolves lacked a cutting edge and Nuno replaced Costa with striker Leo Bonatini at the break.