Wolves 1-1 Manchester United: Fan's Match Report
A classic game of two halves can plainly summarise an exhilarating game of football between two top teams on the second week of Premier League football in the new season. United had the upper hand in the first 45 minutes thanks to a neat finish from Anthony Martial, but a game-changing substitution at half time gave the speedster, Adama Traore, a chance to run at the opposition’s backline, replacing Matt Doherty. An instant reaction from the home-side was soon evident, with Raul Jimenez hitting the post before Ruben Neves’ peach of a strike from the edge of the area found the back of the net. A penalty was awarded to Manchester United after Coady fouled Pogba inside the box, but the Frenchmen failed to convert his spot-kick, with Patricio making an exquisite save to keep the tie even.
Nuno made nine changes to the XI that comfortably beat FC Pyunik in the midweek Europa League tie, with Conor Coady and Joao Moutinho being the only remainers in the starting team.
Patricio; Bennett, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota (3-5-2)
As for United, Ole made one change to the side that eased a 4-0 victory vs Chelsea last week, with Andreas Pereira making way for Daniel James on the right wing, with the Welshmen making his first competitive start for United after they signed the speedster from Swansea last summer.
De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Pogba, Rashford, Lingard, James; Martial (4-2-3-1)
The eruption of noise around Molineux as the players walked out of the tunnel was enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, with it being the first game at home in the new Premier League season. The game then commenced on a blast from Jon Moss’ whistle, with encouragement from both sets of supporters in cheering their sides on through the tiresome 90 minutes of top-level football.
Wolves allowed the away-side to keep possession and hold the ball, typical in their playing style, but struggled in the opening 25 minutes to register anything meaningful in the final third. The opener came on the 27th minute for United, with Martial breaking past the backline as he was picked out with a perfectly weighted ball from Marcus Rashford. The Frenchman showed composure as he slotted the ball into the roof of the net, leaving Patricio with no chance of saving the forward’s strike on his weaker foot. The Frenchman later had a chance to double United’s lead, after a poor back-pass from Bennett was later rectified by Willy Boly, with an excellent recovery tackle to keep Wolves’ heads still in this game. A much deserved opening for the away side as the half concluded on a poor performance from the golden shirts.
Nuno made a tactical substitution on the half-time interval, as Adama Traore came on for Matt Doherty at right-wing back, with the Spaniard’s pace and power proving to be menacing for all defenders he’s come up against in his time. An instant impact from Traore was shown, as he was brought down by Maguire on the edge of the box on the 53rd minute. A delicate out-swinging ball from Joao Moutinho found the head of Raul Jimenez, with his attempt hitting the post as De Gea was rooted to his spot between the sticks. The keeper knew nothing much about the header, but he managed to clear the ball from his goal-line and out to safety.
A corner on the right wing was won, after Traore’s volley into the box was cleared by Maguire. A training-ground routine was in-play, as Jota came short to Moutinho, who then played a one-two with his Portuguese comrade. The maestro then drilled the ball into the path of Ruben Neves, who took two small touches and bent the ball into the top corner of the net, leaving De Gea with no chance as the ball hit the underside of the bar. The signature celebration was conducted in-front of the animated South Bank stand, as well as in the dugout with Nuno and his team in joyous spirits after the tactic resulted in a tremendous goal – a sheer pandemonium inside the Golden Palace.
The attitude from Nuno’s men completely changed the swing of the game, but against the run of play, Manchester United were awarded a penalty. An accidental foul by Coady on Paul Pogba gave United a chance to extend their lead in this tie by an extra goal, as we were approaching the final 20 minutes of the game. Some neat footwork by the Frenchman resulted in him being brought down by the skipper, but some confusion over who was taking the penalty was cleared up as Rashford (who scored a penalty last week vs Chelsea) threw the ball to Pogba and he stepped up from 12 yards. An apparent change in the midfielder’s run-up proved to be unworthy, as his spot-kick was saved by the strong palms of Rui Patricio. Chants of the veteran’s name echoed around the stadium as he kept his side in the tie.
Jon Moss signalled the end an intense and exciting game of football, with a classic ‘tale of two halves’ evidently shown in both 45 minute periods. Wolves now move onto Burnley next Sunday, with a mid-week fixture vs Torino in the final round of the Europa League qualifiers.
Cameron is a Wolves fan and Talking Wolves writer. You can follow him here.
Image: Evening Standard