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Boss Julen Lopetegui hailed Diego Costa as Wolves took a giant leap to safety.

Striker Costa scored his first Premier League goal for six years to help inspire the hosts to a 2-0 win over Brentford.

Hwang Hee-Chan also netted to leave Wolves seven points clear of the relegation zone with seven games left, having won successive top flight games for just the second time this season.

Former Chelsea hitman Costa joined Wolves on a free transfer in September, under former manager Bruno Lage, as an emergency signing following Sasa Kalajdzic’s season-ending knee injury.

Costa had not played for nine months before moving to Molineux and Lopetegui praised his character.

He said: “He has a big heart. He is a very competitive player, in the bad moments he continued working because he has his spirit. You can’t buy this spirit. That’s why he’s made the career he’s had. We are happy for him, he has to continue working.

“He has made a very good match and when he came here, he came with the intention to help the team, the club and the coach.

“He deserves that goal, he is working hard to have his chance. He came here in a bad moment (for Wolves) and he has always put in his best. I hope he is going to continue.

“We are in the middle of the river (in terms of survival). We have a lot of crocodiles around us. You achieve your aim when you’ve achieved it. We have a lot of points in front of us. It’s not enough yet.”

Josh Dasilva lifted over the bar from five yards and Ivan Toney had a shot blocked but it was a meek performance from the Bees.

Costa rolled back the years to bully them and opened the scoring after 27 minutes, with his first goal in English football since the 2017 FA Cup final.

David Raya had already saved well from Marino Lemina and Matheus Cunha but was beaten by a rejuvenated Costa.

He collected Nelson Semedo’s clearance to charge forward and pick out Toti Gomes on the left. The striker continued his run to collect Toti’s cross and find the corner from 12 yards.

Searching a brace, he was denied by Raya early in the first half and the goalkeeper survived a VAR check when Toti went down under his challenge in the box.

A tame Yoane Wissa effort is all the Bees could manage and Hwang doubled the hosts’ lead, tapping in after Ethan Pinnock blocked Matheus Nunes’ cross following the midfielder’s dazzling run.

Toney hit the bar in stoppage time but Brentford have won just two of their last 10 outings to fall away from European contention and sit ninth.

Boss Thomas Frank said: “It’s more fun to win. I think this performance was up there, if not better, than West Ham away (a 2-0 win). It’s about looking at the performance, not the result, and not getting too emotional.

“There are things we could have done better but it was a very even game. Their two goals are two ricochets and their second goal killed it. The boys worked unbelievably hard but we lost a bit of structure and coolness on the ball.

“It hurts, we hate losing. It’s totally unreal for a club of our size, what we have done this season. We will keep focused on the performance.

“It is so difficult. It shouldn’t be possible with the resources with the top six and now Newcastle to get in the top seven. It’s so tough to keep going and keep performing when the difference between the bottom 13 is so slim.”