A Ruben Neves stunner and a Rui Patricio penalty save ensured Wolves continued their unbeaten start to the 2019/20 Premier League season with a 1-1 draw with Manchester United at Molineux.
Anthony Martial opened the scoring for United in the first-half but Neves equalised with a long-range effort which cannoned the underside of the bar, before Patricio kept out Paul Pogba’s penalty moments later.
Nuno Espirito Santo made nine changes to the side which took Wolves into the Europa League play-off round with victory over FC Pyunik at Molineux on Thursday night, reverting back to the starting line-up which stepped out at King Power Stadium for the opening game of the season.
Despite United having more of the possession in the early stages, it was a fairly even start to the game with neither side testing the goalkeepers within the first 15 minutes of the game.
The visitors had the first sniff of an opportunity on 18 minutes when Marcus Rashford raced into space down the right hand side, and after turning Ryan Bennett, he fired a cross towards Martial who was running towards the back post, but his cross went out for a goal kick after missing his fellow forward – who was being closely marked by Willy Boly – by a matter of inches.
Almost ten minutes later, United took the lead through Martial. A quick attack saw the visitors cut through the home side when Jesse Lingard and Rashford linked up well before the England striker put Martial through. The Frenchman made no mistake when he latched onto the ball to fire high past Patricio and into the back of the net.
In a first-half where chances for either side were few and far between them, Raul Jimenez had the best opportunity to get Wolves back into the match with a hammer drive towards goal which was charged down by Pogba.
Wolves fans’ hearts were in their mouths as the game entered the one and only minute of added time when Martial ran through clear on goal, but fortunately for the home supporters Boly was able to get back and stop the marauding United striker.
Half-time: Wolves 0 United 1
Wolves appeared to step up a gear in the second-half and came out fighting to get back into the tie, with Jimenez unlucky not to get onto a dangerous Jonny cross which was arrowed towards the far post, but Victor Lindeloff got back to clear the ball behind.
The home side came inches away from equalising when Jimenez headed against the post from a Moutinho free-kick.
After good work by substitute Adama Traore, the wing-back was brought down by McTominay when he raced through on goal. From the resulting free-kick, Jimenez leapt highest in the box and directed his header towards the far post, but it cannoned back and hit David De Gea on its way out.
But the Wolves supporters didn’t have to wait long for their side to be back level. From a corner the ball went back to Moutinho who pulled the ball back across the 18-yard box and to the feet of an unmarked Neves who took a touch before firing an unstoppable effort beyond De Gea and off the underside of the crossbar.
However, there was a nervous wait for the goal to be confirmed as VAR checked for a possible off-side for when the ball was played back to Moutinho, but thankfully for most of those inside Molineux, the goal was eventually given.
Mid-way through the second-45 minutes there was more drama when Pogba went down inside the penalty area after being clipped by the back heel of Wolves captain Conor Coady’s boot as he raced through on goal.
The United midfielder stepped up to take the spot-kick himself, but Patricio stood up to the task and although diving to the right, he was able to get a strong hand on the ball – which was struck down the middle of the goal – to keep Pogba’s effort out of the net.
Great work by Traore down the right almost created Wolves’ second when he used his pace and trickery to get past Luke Shaw and aim a cross towards the far edge of the penalty area where Jonny was lurking. The left wing-back tried an audacious header from distance, and although it was on target, the ball was comfortably gathered in by De Gea.
After scoring on his debut against Pyunik in the Europa League the previous week, Pedro Neto came on late in the game for the impressive Diogo Jota to make his Premier League bow. The forward almost got in on goal immediately when Harry Maguire played a nervous backpass to De Gea, but the summer signing from Lazio was unable to get to the ball before the United keeper.
However, Wolves held on to take another point from the ‘big six’ and maintain their seven month unbeaten home record.
Full-time: Wolves 1 United 1
Wolves: Patricio, Doherty (Traore 46), Bennett, Coady, Boly, Jonny, Neves, Dendoncker, Moutinho, Jota (Neto 86), Jimenez (Cutrone 90).
Unused subs: Ruddy, Vinagre, Saiss, Gibbs-White.
Man United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Pogba, McTominay, James (Greenwood 89), Lingard (Mata 81), Rashford (Pereira 89), Martial.
Unused subs: Romero, Tuanzebe, Young, Matic.
Referee: John Moss