Wolves 2 (Jota 25, Smalling OG 77) Manchester United 1 (McTominay 13)
Wolves came from behind to claim yet another sensational victory over Manchester United. Scott McTominay’s sweet strike quickly became a distance memory as Diogo Jota hauled his side level and Chris Smalling’s own goal turned the game on its head to give the hosts their second win over the Red Devils in the space of three weeks.
When McTominay drilled United in front early on, Wolves’ task looked a hefty one, but the character which has shone through this season was on show again. First, the front two combined to great effect once more, as Jota slammed home Raul Jimenez’s deft through ball.
Then, once United had been reduced to ten men following Ashley Young’s dangerous challenge on Jota, Wolves claimed the points as a brilliant Joao Moutinho cross caused carnage in the United box, with United’s Smalling the man to apply the final touch and earn Wolves the points.
Molineux was becoming accustomed to hosting United. Less than three weeks earlier Wolves had conquered the Red Devils, and the visitors were determined to ensure that wouldn’t happen again. However, their early chance went begging as Diogo Dalot impressively picked out Romelu Lukaku in the middle, but after rising high, the striker could only head straight at Rui Patricio.
However, United came back and took the lead from range. Patient build-up play saw Fred lay the ball off to McTominay, who didn’t need a second invitation to rifle a low, hard drive into the bottom corner, with Rui Patricio’s fingertips unable to keep the ball out.
The goalkeeper was more convincing minutes later, however, pushing away a Jesse Lingard header, after the England international had been left all alone inside the Wolves box.
Yet, back came Wolves and they gave their visitors a warning before equalising. First, when Willy Boly slipped in Jimenez, the Mexican would have been disappointed to slice wide, but he made amends when Moutinho robbed Fred of possession, allowing Jimenez to send Jota through, and that link-up produced the goods again, as the Portuguese slammed past David De Gea.
Wolves tails were up and, when Matt Doherty barged his way into the United box and set up Leander Dendoncker, the Belgian couldn’t keep the ball down and fired over. Then, the next opportunity fell to the Irishman, but Doherty couldn’t divert Moutinho’s free-kick towards goal.
It was another set piece by the midfielder which caused problems in the United box soon after. Doherty and Boly both had sniffs of the ball, before the Ruben Neves hit the clearance with a fierce volley, which De Gea plucked impressively out of the sky. United still almost went in for the break ahead, but Lukaku could only fire across goal and wide.
Half-time: Wolves 1 Man United 1
The excitement continued into the second-half, with both teams longing for the advantage, and United would have moved ahead, had it not been for Patricio who, despite moving in the opposite direction, produced a strong arm to keep out McTominay’s diving header.
The game then took a twist, as Jota nipped in ahead of Young and was caught by a horrible-looking challenge, the United captain was shown a deserved second yellow and the visitors were down to ten men.
Wolves attempted to seize the initiative, and excitement levels inside Molineux raised at times, without a final shot being produced. Then, with 15 minutes remaining Jota, who’d ran United ragged, was replaced by Ivan Cavaleiro, before Jonny Otto took the place of Ruben Vinagre.
Just seconds after the changes, Wolves moved ahead for the first time. Moutinho’s cross caused all sorts of problems once again, Jimenez and Dendoncker attempted to force the ball home, before Smalling got the decisive touch, watching the ball trickle over the line.
The defender was almost guilty again soon after, but after diverting Jonny’s low cross goalwards, the defender was grateful to see his goalkeeper push behind for a corner. Then, in added time, Jimenez clipped a lovely ball over the top for Cavaleiro, who beat Victor Lindelof to the ball, but crashed his effort against the crossbar, but it mattered not as Wolves saw out the win.
Full-time: Wolves 2 Man United 1
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty, Bennett, Coady, Boly, Vinagre (Jonny 76), Neves (Saiss 84), Dendoncker, Moutinho, Jota (Cavaleiro 74), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Ruddy, Gibbs-White, Costa, Traore.
United: De Gea, Young, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, Fred (Jones 65), McTominay, Pogba, Dalot (Pereira 84), Lingard, Lukaku (Martial 74).
Unused subs: Romero, Rojo, Matic, Mata.