Wolverhampton Wanderers must be wondering how they didn’t come away with all 3pts after yesterday’s game against Manchester United. Mason Greenwood struck the winner in what truly was a smash and grab win at the Molineux!
It has been an incredible last few days for Manchester United fans following the announcement that Cristiano Ronaldo has returned home. That excitement was clear to see in the traveling away support yesterday when a lifesize cut out of Ronaldo was seen making his way on the train to Wolverhampton, before being held aloft for 90 mins in the away end. There was a real buzz about the place.
Adding to that was the fact that Raphael Varane was making his full debut for the club, and Jadon Sancho was getting his first start for the side since signing from Borussia Dortmund. However, the performance from United didn’t live up to the expectations. All the hype and all the buzz led to a lacklustre performance from the Manchester side.
Wolves took control from the whistle, and with just a few minutes on the clock, a misplaced Fred pass allowed Adama Traore to run from deep inside his own half right to the edge of the United box. Luckily it came to no avail. But just 2 minutes later Wolves had a fantastic opportunity to make it 1-0. A break away from a United corner saw the ball land at the feet of Fred, who made a right mess of things, leading to the ball landing at the feet of on-loan Barcelona winger Trincao. Trincao then proceeds to walk past the on-rushing Fred like he wasn’t there, before leaving the Brazilian midfielder lying face down on the grass as he went one on one with De Gea. His shot evaded the onrushing Spaniard, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka was there to make a vital goal-line clearance. A superb block and a massive let-off.
It was more of the same for the rest of the first half with Wolves controlling the game and keeping the ball well. United were chasing shadows, and when they did manage to regain possession, were giving the ball away cheaply at every opportunity. United did manage to put the ball in the net towards the end of the first half when Paul Pogba played in Bruno Fernandes to smash home, but the flag was raised for offside.
The 2nd half was more of the same but became more of a scrappy affair, with both sides losing the ball in good areas when attacking. The biggest opportunity of the match came when David De Gea made a stunning double save to thwart Romain Saiss. Saiss first attempt came from a corner and his header from 6 yards went straight at De Gea, a save he didn’t know much about, but the rebound fell directly to Saiss who went to pass it into the net from 3 yards out to put Wolves 1-0 up, but the reactions and reflexes of De Gea were second to none, and he managed to get 2 strong hands on the shot and the ball was cleared. A save of the season candidate and we are only in the 3rd round of games. Another let-off for United.
WIth the game nearing the end, and United not looking like creating a notable chance let alone scoring a goal. Up stepped Mason Greenwood to score his 3rd goal in consecutive games. Picking up a pass from debutant Raphael Varane, Greenwood took the ball in his stride and entered the box. With a trademark shift onto his right foot, he skipped past the full-back to fire the ball through WOlves keeper Jose Sa and into the top corner. Deadlock broken. Smash and grab at the Molineux!
There was a moment of doubt however about whether or not the goal would stand following a 50/50 tackle between Paul Pogba and Ruben Neves leading to the ball landing at the feet of Varane. Pogba goes in one-footed studs up but fails to make any meaningful contact on Neves. Neves takes two steps, realises he has lost the ball, looks at the ref, then proceeds to throw himself to the floor expecting the foul. The correct decision was reached and the goal stood. To the dismay of Graeme Souness in the studio who deemed the challenge a “leg breaker”, only because it was Paul Pogba, and for some reason, Graeme has a serious issue with him. Strange man.
To read Graeme Sounness opinion – Click here
United held on for the win and take a big 3pts away from a tricky away ground. Credit to Wolves who fully deserved at least a point. But I will take a smash and grab win at the Molineux! Big shoutout to Raphael Varane who came in and was exceptional at the back, one assist and contributing to our first clean sheet in 11 games. Hopefully the start of a great partnership with Harry Maguire.
Next up for United is Newcastle at home, where a Mr. Cristiano Ronaldo will be making his debut! We cannot wait!
To read more on my reaction to the return of Ronaldo – Click Here