Manchester United 1 (Mata 67) Wolves 0
Juan Mata scored the only goal and sent Wolves out of the Emirates FA Cup at the third round stage, as Manchester United progressed. The Spaniard capitalised on one moment of hesitation in the Wolves defence and raced clear to clip gently over John Ruddy.
That came after the visitors had passed up big chances to open the scoring in the cup tie before the break. Pedro Neto had a goal ruled out by VAR, Raul Jimenez should have scored after making space for himself in the box, but shot straight at Sergio Romero, while Matt Doherty crashed against the post, before United took advantage.
After 90 fairly uneventful minutes in the original tie, the replay began much improved and United would have taken the lead within minutes, had it not been for Ruddy’s hand getting to the ball before Daniel James. Meanwhile, Wolves had their own early opening, but Jimenez shot across goal after good work by Neto.
The Mexican was at the centre of the early action and should have put his side ahead on eight minutes. Adama Traore, operating on the left usually, got to the byline and crossed for Jimenez, whose touch was a delight to throw three United players off the scent, but his left-footed strike only forced a routine save out of Romero.
Wolves’ positivity continued and soon after the ball was in the United net, before VAR intervened. Jimenez set up Neto to convert, but the Mexican was adjudged to have used a hand in the build-up and it remained goalless.
Wolves flurries forward were being punctuated by United chances and Ruddy was alert to push away Mata’s effort, before the visitors came even closer to the opening goal. A clever corner routine saw Ruben Neves clip a brilliant cross on to the head of Doherty, but his effort crashed against the post and couldn’t be turned in by an offside Jimenez.
Half-time: Man United 0 Wolves 0
After the interval there was nothing to choose between the teams, with Wolves’ charges forward regular, but unfruitful, and they were made to pay for a slip in concentration. The back three failed to deal with a ball forward and Marcus Rashford slipped in Mata to clip over Ruddy.
Wolves almost produced the perfect response on the break, but Neto couldn’t find the required weight on his pass for Traore, before Morgan Gibbs-White took to the field for the first time since October, in place of the Portuguese.
As the contest entered the last ten minutes, Wolves were taking control and when Moutinho picked out his fellow midfielder Neves on the edge of the box, the 22-year-old hit a sweet volley which fizzed just over the bar.
Ruben Vinagre and Oskar Buur took to the field in the closing stages, with Jonny and Traore making way, but no final chance fell the way of the visitors, who will go no further in the competition they reached the semi-finals of last term.
Full-time: Man United 1 Wolves 0
Man United: Romero, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Williams, Matic, Fred, Mata, James (Rashford 63)(Lingard 80), Greenwood (Pereira 63), Martial.
Unused subs: Grant, Jones, Dalot, Chong.
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Dendoncker, Coady, Saiss, Jonny (Vinagre 74), Neves, Moutinho, Traore (Buur 88), Neto (Gibbs-White 71), Jimenez.
Unused subs: Patricio, Bennett, Kilman, Ashley-Seal.