Talking Points: Wolves 1 United 2
Manchester United rounded off the Premier League season with a 2-1 away win over Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, as we saw debuts for Hannibal and Will Fish.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s much-changed team, with the Europa League final in mind, stunned the home side early on. Anthony Elanga’s bullet header put United ahead in the Black Country. Nelson Semedo then sent the home fans wild with an equaliser, six minutes prior to half-time, before Juan Mata scored a penalty in first-half stoppage time to regain the lead.In the second half, Wolves fought for an equaliser but could not find a way past a solid Reds defence, meaning United ran out 2-1 winners.
Here are the main talking points from the Premier League season finale…
Sunday was the last match day of the Premier League season. We already knew ahead of kick-off at Molineux that United would finish second in the league. Elsewhere, it was a tight battle for the remaining Champions League spots, with Liverpool and Chelsea claiming them ahead of Leicester City, who remained in fifth after a 4-2 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur on the final day. Hence, Chelsea qualified despite a 2-1 loss at Aston Villa.
Ole’s men finish the season with 74 points, having won 21 matches, drawn 11 and only lost six - the joint-fewest in the league. The Reds have a tendency to avoid defeat away from home on the final day of the season, and did so again at Molineux. This was our eighth in in our last 11 away games on the final day of the season, with the remaining three ending all square.
Talking about away days, with the win, United finished the league season unbeaten away from home. A full season without defeat away from home has only been managed by Preston North End (1888/89) and Arsenal (2001/02 and 2003/04) in the English top-flight previously.
With our final-day win, our away statistic reads 12 wins and seven draws. We love an away day!
As expected, with the Wednesday’s Europa League final in mind, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted for a much-changed side on the final day of the Premier League season.
From the team that faced Fulham at Old Trafford on Tuesday, only Eric Bailly remained from the starting XI, meaning our manager opted for 10 changes at Molineux. Nemanja Matic led the side as captain in Harry Maguire’s absence and, up front, he opted for Daniel James, Amad and Anthony Elanga, a move which payed off…
ELANGA SHOWS PROMISE
Wow, Anthony! What a header to score your first United goal! The Academy graduate silenced the Molineux crowd and showed exactly why Ole has trusted him in our final games of the season with a bullet header, following a move consisting of 14 passes.
Our no. 56 became the 19th teenager to score in the Premier League for the Reds, a record only bettered by Arsenal on 20. The youngster became the fifth Swede to score for the club after Jesper Blomquist, Henrik Larsson, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Victor Lindelof.
United's teenage Premier League scorers gallery
Check out the teen Reds who have scored in the division after Anthony Elanga added his name to the list...
VIVA JUAN MATA
Juan Mata was back in United’s starting XI and showed his class as he scored a penalty to restore the Reds’ lead in first-half stoppage time. It was clearly an emotional moment for our no. 8 as he dedicated his goal to his mother, Marta, who sadly passed away recently.
The strike was his third penalty goal in the Premier League and his first since he scored against West Bromwich Albion, back in November 2015.
DEBUTS FOR HANNIBAL AND FISH
Throughout the second half, Hannibal warmed up and was hopeful of making his debut for the first team at Molineux. Ole said he was going to be involved in our final game of the season and, in the 82nd minute, our Academy graduate's dream was realised as he replaced Mata. The 18-year-old, was named United's Under-23s Player of the Year for 2020/21, wore no. 46 in his first appearance for Ole’s men.
In stoppage time, our young defender Will Fish also came on for his maiden United appearance at senior level. Congratulations, Hannibal and Will!
FANS ARE BACK
This was the first time the Reds have played in front of rival supporters since our triumph at London Stadium against West Ham back in December 2020. Some 4,500 Wolves supporters were in full voice at the Molineux and provided an excellent experience for those lucky enough to be inside the stadium. We hope our magnificent away following can be back inside the grounds across England next campaign.
The Premier League season finale marked the end of Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo’s four-year stay in the Black Country. The Portuguese coach guided Wolves to promotion to the Premier League in his debut campaign by winning the Championship and led his side to the Europa League in their comeback season in the top flight by finishing seventh, a feat they also achieved in the 2019/20 campaign. The home supporters gave him a brilliant and well-deserved send-off from the stands and he waved an emotional goodbye afterwards.
Sunday’s match was the first time Bruno Fernandes has not featured in our Premier League squad since the Portuguese magnifico made his debut, ironically, against Sunday’s opposition, Wolves, in February 2020. Our no. 18’s league run stops at 51 games in a row and he will finish the Premier League season with 18 goals and 12 assists to his name. Simply magnificent!
NEXT STOP: GDANSK
With the Premier League done and dusted, the only game left of the Reds' season is our biggest of the campaign - the Europa League final against Villarreal. The game kicks off at 20:00 BST on Wednesday 26 May. Let's get that trophy!