Manchester United humbled by Wolves in the Premier League
Joao Moutinho’s late strike downed Manchester United as the Wolves recorded a 1-0 win in the Premier League on Monday at Old Trafford to inflict more pain on the red devils.
Wolves had not played since December 19 due to COVID-19 issues but dominated the opening proceedings at Old Trafford, United only holding on thanks to David de Gea repeatedly denying Bruno Lage’s side.
Man United substitute Bruno Fernandes and Wolves centre-half Roman Saiss traded second-half strikes against the woodwork, either side of Cristiano Ronaldo – who was the stand-in captain in the absence of Harry Maguire – seeing a goal ruled out for offside.
Moutinho then struck with eight minutes remaining to play to condemn Ralf Rangnick to his first defeat in charge of the Red Devils, who sit seventh in the league – four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, albeit with one game in hand.
Wolves had not scored in their last 13 league games against United at Old Trafford, dating back to 2004, but pinned back Rangnick’s languid side for much of the first half.
Daniel Podence twice forced smart stops from De Gea, while the Spain international produced an expert save to tip over Ruben Neves’ thunderous volley as Lage’s side headed in at the break with nothing to show for their efforts.
United picked up the pace after the interval, Fernandes slamming onto the crossbar following Nemanja Matic’s cross before teeing up Ronaldo’s header past Jose Sa, which was disallowed for offside.
Saiss curled a free-kick against the woodwork, with Moutinho then delivering the decisive strike as he fired into the bottom-left corner.
Sa kept out Fernandes’ stoppage-time free-kick as Lage’s side played out an eighth straight league game with less than one goal scored in it.
Wolves outshot United 15-4 in the first half – the most efforts a visiting side has had in the opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford since the 2003-04 season – and were unlucky not to be rewarded for their endeavours.
However, United’s toothless performance was eventually punished by Moutinho’s stunning attempt as Wolves recorded their first league win since February 1980 at United, who dropped further ground in their pursuit for the Champions League places.
Rangnick suffered his first loss in five league games at the helm in Manchester, while Lage’s side moved up to eighth and within three points of the Red Devils.
The tiny Podence was a constant threat to United throughout the game, constantly slotting in between the pivot of Matic and Scott McTominay.
The Belgium international created a game-high four chances – joint with team-mate Trincao – while testing De Gea with another game-leading three shots on target, two more than any United player recorded.
Wolves, despite their hard-working and impressive performances, have failed to fire in front of a goal in the Premier League this season. Indeed, their leading striker Raul Jimenez has only found the net three times this term on his return from a concerning head injury last season.
The Mexico international was provided with an abundance of opportunities yet again but characterised Wolves’ lack of clinical finishing as he could not hit the target with either of his three presentable chances.
United face an FA Cup clash with Aston Villa, who are also Rangnick’s next league opponents, next Monday. Wolves host Sheffield United in their third-round clash also in the FA cup on Sunday.