Morgan Gibbs-White denied 10-man Brighton the chance to secure Premier League safety after Wolves’ late show.
The midfielder’s last-minute strike earned a 2-1 comeback win at Molineux following Lewis Dunk’s game-changing red card.
The Seagulls skipper was sent off after the break for pulling back Fabio Silva, having given the visitors a first-half lead.
Adama Traore levelled with 14 minutes left and Graham Potter’s side had been in complete command until Dunk walked.
Victory would have sealed Premier League survival for the Seagulls, although it will be confirmed on Monday if Burnley beat Fulham, and Neal Maupay underlined their frustrations after he was sent off at the final whistle when he confronted referee Jon Moss.
Mid-table Wolves looked to set the early tone and Robert Sanchez tipped Vitinha’s low effort wide after four minutes.
Yet they quickly faded and Brighton took the lead with their first attack after 13 minutes.
Patient play from the Seagulls ended when Ki-Jana Hoever cleared behind but, from Pascal Gross’ corner, Dunk outjumped a limp defence to power a downward header in from six yards.
Wolves were ragged and, much like their last awful 4-0 home defeat to Burnley, looked porous at the back and out of ideas up front.
Against the Clarets, they were 3-0 down at the break and Brighton could have easily repeated the trick this time.
Dunk’s towering, looping, header was creeping in until Rui Patricio clawed it away after 25 minutes and, from the corner, Adam Webster headed at the goalkeeper.
Brighton’s swift attacks left the hosts floundering, with Danny Welbeck’s movement giving Max Kilman and Conor Coady countless problems, and it was from his knockdown which saw Maupay flash a drive over.
Wolves’ season had been in limbo for some time, being robbed of the injured Raul Jimenez and Jonny halted Nuno Espirito Santo’s desire to establish a different style and the side remains in transition.
Late victory will give them renewed confidence but with three wins from their last 10 outings and games against Everton, Tottenham and Manchester United to finish, further improvement is needed.
Brighton have fared little better, they have won just three in 14, but there are clear signs of progress under Potter, despite a frustrating defeat and their flirtation with the drop.
Potter’s side had more desire, were slicker and had the confidence of a side who knew survival was in their grasp – before it slipped away in the second half.
The break gave Wolves a breather and they emerged with much-needed impetus, with Sanchez turning Gibbs-White’s sharp low effort wide.
They were then handed a lifeline when Dunk was dismissed eight minutes into the second half.
Fabio Silva had previously been anonymous but smart movement allowed him to dart onto Vitinha’s pass and ahead of Dunk, who pulled the striker down as he went clean through.
Referee Moss was left with little option but to send the Seagulls skipper off and the momentum shifted to Wolves.
Traore was introduced but it took 15 minutes with their numerical advantage for the hosts to force Sanchez into a save, when he denied Joao Moutinho’s volley from the edge of the box.
Wolves had forced Brighton back though and finally made their pressure count when Traore levelled 14 minutes from time.
Neat build-up involving Vitinha and Silva saw the striker quickly swap passes with Traore and the winger beat Sanchez from 16 yards.
Gibbs-White then missed a glorious chance with five minutes left when Traore charged down Sanchez’s clearance and squared for the midfielder who could only blast over.
But he atoned in the final minute when he found the top corner after Alexis Mac Allister blocked his initial shot. Maupay was then dismissed after the final whistle when he confronted referee Moss.