Report: United 0 Wolves 1
Manchester United suffered a shock opening to 2022 as Wolves threw cold water on our new year hopes with a 1-0 Old Trafford win.
It was a disappointing start to the year for Ralf Rangnick as our interim boss's unbeaten start to his United job came to an abrupt end.
United were largely off the pace all match, despite only making two changes at the heart of defence to the starting XI who had beaten Burnley 3-1 in our final match of 2020 last Thursday.
Wolves dominated the shots-on-target stats, with the Red only managing two all game, and finally won the match in the 82nd minute when a Joao Moutinho blast from the edge of the area beat David De Gea.
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FIRST HALF - DE GEA KEEPS WOLVES AT BAY
It was a sluggish start to the new year by United as the first half was dominated in large parts by Wolves.
The visitors from the Midlands had only scored 13 goals in the Premier League coming into this match and had only bagged one goal in their last six outings. But they were not shy in testing the Reds and it was a good job that, once again, De Gea was on top of his game.
Our No. 1 had to stop a 12th-minute near-post drive from Daniel Podence and, immediately afterwards, needed to be on his toes to leap and tip over a cracking half-volley from Ruben Neves. After 18 minutes, he was back in action again when thwarting Nelson Semedo before Podence, once more, was denied by the Spaniard.
United were struggling to cause any danger or test Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa. The one highlight had come after only seven minutes when a superb Mason Greenwood pass sent Jadon Sancho away, but he eventually ran into trouble and the move petered out.
Once Bruno Lage’s side survived that early scare, they took over and the Reds found it hard going.
It wasn't until the 42nd minute that the hosts conjured up an opportunity that got the crowd to their feet. Sadly, Edinson Cavani lifted his shot over the bar from the edge of the area, when a pass to Greenwood looked the better option.
SECOND HALF - WOLVES SNATCH IT
United started the second half a touch brighter but still drew a disappointing blank in terms of threatening the Wolves goal.
Ten minutes into the half, Bruno Fernandes stripped off and eventually came into the action, replacing Greenwood with the Old Trafford crowd registering their disappointment that it was the No 11 who came off.
But the stadium was soon hailing the substitution as Fernandes made an impact and raised the Reds’ tempo and danger.
Eight minutes after coming on, the Portuguese midfielder had United’s first golden chance of the match. Excellently set up by Nemanja Matic’s cutback, Bruno slammed a sidefoot shot against the bar.
With the crowd rocking at last, Fernandes then delivered a free-kick for Ronaldo to head home only for our stand-in captain to have his effort ruled out for offside.
Ronaldo then broke away but dragged his left-foot shot wide with the crowd on its feet again in anticipation. It was certainly a much welcome upbeat period for United, finally giving Wolves something to think about, but the renaissance was all too brief.
The visitors survived and hit back with a Romain Saiss free-kick shaking De Gear's bar after Matic had fouled sub Adama Traore.
Rangnick made another change when he brought on Marcus Rashford immediately after that scare and took off Sancho However, with eight minutes to go, it was Wolves who made the breakthrough.
Traore forced his way to the byline before lifting a cross into the centre which Jones headed away. But the clearance fell to Moutinho on the edge of the area who had time to control before drilling a low shot past De Gea.
There was one final glimmer of hope for United when Jones put his head in where it hurts and bravely won a free-kick on the edge of the area with only seconds left. Keeper Jose Sa acrobatically kept out Fernandes's effort to deny the Reds a late point-saver.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka (Elanga 84), Varane, Jones, Shaw; McTominay, Matic; Sancho (Rashford 75), Greenwood; Cavani, Ronaldo (c).
Subs not used: Henderson, Dalot, Telles, Fred, Fernandes, Lingard, van de Beek.
Bookings: McTominay, Shaw, Matic.
Wolves: Sa; Marcal, Neves, Jimenez (Silva 81), Podence (Dendoncker 87), Trincao (Traore 65), Coady (c), Semedo, Kilman, Saiss, Moutinho.
Subs not used: Ruddy, Hoever, Ait-Nouri, Jordao, Cundle, Bueno.
Goals: Moutinho 82.