FIRST-HALF strikes from João Moutinho and Raul Jimenez ensured 10-man Cherries were sunk 2-1 at home by Wolves.

The duo netted within 31 minutes at Vitality Stadium, while Cherries were left to play 53 minutes of the contest with 10 men after home skipper Simon Francis was sent off for two bookings.

Defeat meant Eddie Howe’s men have won just once in their past eight games in all competitions.

Club captain Francis made his first Premier League start since rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against Tottenham on Boxing Day.

He came in to replace the injured Joshua King, as Howe’s side matched up the visitors by lining up with three centre-backs.

Visitors Wolves remained unchanged from the side that beat Aston Villa 2-1 before the international break.

Winger Adama Traore was passed fit after overcoming a hamstring issue.

An early corner for the visitors saw them fire the first strike in anger.

After Nathan Ake headed clear for Cherries, the ball dropped to Portuguese international Ruben Neves on the volley, who drove a fizzing effort just wide.

Fellow midfielder Moutinho then shanked off target after being teed up on the edge of the box – as the Nuno Espirito Santo’s men took control of the opening exchanges.

Traore was causing problems for the hosts and he brought a key booking on 17 minutes.

After the Spanish winger was pulled back by Philip Billing on the counter, the Cherries midfielder was shown his fifth yellow of the campaign, meaning he will miss next week’s trip to Tottenham.

Francis was then cautioned as he hacked down Diogo Jota on the edge of the box – a foul which led to Wolves’ first goal.

A dipping free-kick from Moutinho at an acute angle flew over goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and into the top corner on 21 minutes.

Things then got worse for the hosts as they conceded a second in simple fashion 10 minutes later. Moutinho’s precise free-kick found Traore in acres of space down the right.

He centred for Jimenez to tap home the training-ground move from close range with simplicity.

Francis’s return to a Premier League starting XI lasted just 37 minutes, as Cherries were reduced to 10 men before the break.

The 34-year-old was judged to have pulled back Jota following an advantage played by referee Simon Hooper, who went back to send off the skipper.

Boss Howe elected to shuffle the pack at the interval. Replacing Harry Wilson and Billing with Jefferson Lerma and Arnaut Danjuma.

But it was Cherries who were given a let-off as Wolves should have had a third.

Jota ran through to slide the ball past Ramsdale and into the net – only to be flagged offside. Replays suggested the winger was being played on.

The visitors continued to threaten. Neves drilled just wide on 55 minutes with Ramsdale sharply moving to his right-hand post.

But Cherries gave themselves a lifeline with 59 minutes on the clock. Ryan Fraser’s corner picked out the near-post run of Steve Cook, whose header glanced off Traore and into the far corner for 2-1.

The hosts then made their final change with 14 minutes remaining. Dan Gosling returned for his first senior appearance since April, after replacing Lewis Cook.

As Cherries piled men forward, Wolves almost sealed it on the counter on 79 minutes. Jota surged at goal on the counter and, after being tracked by Steve Cook, forced a diving low stop from Ramsdale.

With eight minutes remaining, Ake must have thought he’d scored. A free-kick from Rico was flicked on by Steve Cook to the flying Dutchman, whose acrobatic effort was parried away by keeper Rui Patricio.

And Danjuma spurned a golden chance to earn a point in stoppage time for the hosts, blazing over from inside the box.

Cherries: Ramsdale; Smith, Francis, S Cook, Ake, Rico; L Cook (Gosling, 76), Billing (Lerma, h-t); H Wilson (Danjuma, h-t), Fraser; C Wilson.

Unused subs: Stacey, Mepham, Solanke, Boruc (g/k).

Booked: Francis (2), Billing, Rico.

Wolves: Patricio; Jonny, Saiss, Coady, Dendoncker, Doherty; Neves Moutinho; Jota (Vinagre, 89), Traore; Jimenez.

Unused subs: Vallejo, Neto, Cutrone, Perry, Kilman, Ruddy (g/k).

Booked: Saiss.

Referee: Simon Hooper