Wolves 0 Manchester United 0
Manchester United's Emirates FA Cup hopes were kept alive on Saturday evening, with a gutsy goalless draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux.
Marcus Rashford almost won the game just seconds after taking to the pitch as a substitute in the 70th minute, but saw his shot deflected onto the bar via a deflection from Wolves captain Conor Coady.
The home side then thought they'd taken a decisive advantage when Matt Doherty's header beat Sergio Romero, but the goal was ruled out because of the diversion imparted on the ball by the Irishman's leading arm.
He also restored the back four that beat Burnley by installing Ashley Young and Brandon Williams in the full-back berths. In central midfield, Andreas Pereira came in to partner Nemanja Matic, while Tahith Chong lined up on the left flank and Juan Mata started in the no.10 role behind Mason Greenwood at the tip of the attack.
Wolves sprang to life around the quarter-hour mark, when the second of two corners led to a superb reflex save from Sergio Romero that denied Matt Doherty the game’s opening goal, after the wing-back met Dendoncker’s flick-on with a first-time shot from around six yards out.
But the much-changed Reds XI grew into the match as proceedings wore on, and arguably should have had a penalty when Brandon Williams was tripped by Dendoncker inside the penalty area. The referee Paul Tierney was unmoved and, when VAR checked the call, United’s players were visibly befuddled by its failure to award the decision in their favour.
Andreas and James both shot over from presentable opportunities, and the best Wolves could muster was a speculative Ruben Neves attempt from distance, to the disappointment of a restless Molineux crowd.
Nuno Espirito Santo evidently recognised that something different was required for the hosts and sent on the impressive centre-forward Raul Jimenez for the restart, and Wolves began after the interval with a new level of vigour.
A sublime Mason Greenwood touch kickstarted United’s first memorable passage of the second period. The youngster effortlessly caressed a Romero clearance to Mata on the halfway line and, when the Spaniard fed Chong on the right, he won a free-kick 25 yards from the Wolves goal. Mata’s subsequent attempt was agonisingly close to finding the top left-hand corner of the net with Ruddy stranded after initially moving in the wrong direction.
Solskjaer made his first changes — Fred and Marcus Rashford — with 20 minutes to go, and they almost bore instant fruit when Greenwood found Rashford inside the area. The forward just dallied too long, however, enabling Coady to deflect his shot so it bounced off the top of the bar.
Wolves thought they’d taken the lead with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, when Doherty headed home, but VAR ruled correctly that the ball had hit his hand before reaching the back of Romero’s net.
Rashford claimed for a penalty after another burst into the Wolves area, but it was the home side making the majority of the attacking moves as the game wound towards its conclusion, buoyed by the controlling influence exerted by substitute Joao Moutinho and Neves in the centre of the pitch, and the always challenging movement and intelligence of Jimenez – who struck the bar with a flashing shot across goal.
Lindelof did well to divert a wicked low Traore cross in six minutes of added time, but the Reds played out the final stages under little pressure, earning a creditable draw at a ground where away wins have proved elusive for the Reds since Wolves returned to the Premier League in 2018.
United: Romero, Young, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Matic, Andreas, Chong (Dalot 82), Mata (Fred 70), James (Rashford 70), Greenwood.
Subs not used: Grant, Wan-Bissaka, Jones, Gomes.
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady, Kilman, Vinagre (Otto 75), Neves, Saiss (Moutinho 71), Neto, Ashley-Seal (Raul Jimenez 46), Traore.
Subs not used: Patricio, Bennett, Otasowie, Rasmussen.
Booked: Saiss, Kilman, Moutinho.
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