Wigan Athletic overcame the disappointment of a Hugo Rodallega penalty miss to comfortably prevail on an afternoon of astonishing individual recklessness in the Black Country.
Denied superbly by Marcus Hahnemann's spot-kick save after Richard Stearman had been further punished by Howard Webb with a second yellow card for blatant shirt-pulling, Wigan still coasted to their first League victory since late November.
And that was although they followed Wolves in being reduced to 10 men with the midfielder Hendry Thomas dismissed in the second half for the second of two ludicrously wild challenges. Only one goal separated the sides at the time but Wigan's manager Roberto Martinez said: "It was a complete performance. It was a real test of character and the biggest positive was that we looked very solid."
Wolves are the lowest scorers in the Premier League and their hopes of exploiting the division's leakiest defence receded with the departure of their full-back. Stearman, lucky only to be booked for an awful earlier challenge on Paul Scharner, was clearly guilty of a pull on James McCarthy as they chased Michael Mancienne's miscued clearance away from goal in first-half injury time. Hahnemann temporarily reprieved him with a brilliant stop from Rodallega's kick, Scharner shanking the rebound wide.
Wigan had been in control even with 11 against 11, either side of Sylvan Ebanks-Blake embarrassingly steering wide the most routine of one-on-one chances when set up close in by Nenad Milijas.
Charles N'Zogbia, Thomas and Rodallega drew saves from Hahnemann, the latter then beating him with a low 25-yarder that thudded against the post. When the American clutched a close-range effort from Rodallega and denied him bravely after Maynor Figueroa picked out N'Zogbia with a stunning diagonal pass, Wigan were in danger of being frustrated.
The trouble for Wolves was that the ball broke free on the second occasion for the 19-year-old McCarthy to highlight his first top-flight start.
N'Zogbia stylishly rolled in the second when Rodallega turned the unhappy Mancienne soon after Thomas, who was booked in the first half for a two-footed challenge on Stephen Ward, walked for lunging in on the same player. Wolves threatened only when Chris Iwelumo's volley was pushed wide and it was just as well Hahnemann remained heroic to the end. "Mistakes cost us," said their manager Mick McCarthy. "Our sending-off had a huge bearing on the game."
Referee: Howard Webb
Man of the match: Hahnemann
Match rating: 7/10