Bakary Sako struck twice as Wolves kept pace with their Championship play-off rivals by avenging last month’s FA Cup exit to Fulham.

Skipper Danny Batth headed the home side ahead from Sako’s corner.

Sako then settled the outcome in the space of seven minutes just before the break.

First he rifled home a stunning low left-foot shot from the edge of the box, before beating Fulham keeper Marcus Bettinelli at his near post.

In front of Molineux’s lowest league crowd of the season – 17,744 – Wolves failed to cut the five-point gap to the play-off places, as all their rivals won too.

But they got the job done against a Fulham side who threatened more before the break, but ended up offering little in a second half that was a virtual non-event.

After winning on penalties in the third round of the FA Cup at Molineux six weeks ago, Fulham won their next two league games too. But they are now without a victory in eight matches in a run that has sent them down to 20th in the table.

They looked lively in the half hour that followed Batth’s near-post header from Sako’s viciously inswinging right-wing corner.

But Ross McCormack wasted their best opening when he could only fire straight at home keeper Tomasz Kuszczak. And, for all their fancy footwork and intricate dribbling and passing movements, the visitors were then rocked by Sako’s goals.

The first of them was a sweet low left-foot strike from the right corner of the box which flew across Bettinelli to nestle in the Fulham keeper’s bottom right corner.

But when Sako found the same spot from a narrow angle, this time from the left, Bettinelli was at fault, beaten for sheer pace at his near post.

Bettinelli did have to make one second-half save, going low to his left to deny Benik Afobe, but the destination of the three points had long been decided.