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Wolves stun Man Utd at Old Trafford



Moutinho scored the winner with eight minutes to go to give Wolves the win

Joao Moutinho struck the only goal eight minutes from time to give Wolves a deserved victory at Old Trafford and end Ralf Rangnick’s unbeaten start as interim Manchester United manager.

It also needed a Jose Sa save in the fifth minute of stoppage time to earn Wolves their first Old Trafford win since 1980.

Sa turned away a curling free-kick from substitute Bruno Fernandes, who had earlier fired against the bar when he should have done better.

The visitors controlled the opening half-hour and were back on top by the time Moutinho struck, although the goal was unfortunate for central defender Phil Jones, who was one of United’s better performers on his senior return after a near two-year absence because of injuries.


His clearing header fell to the 35-year-old midfielder on the edge of the area and although Moutinho had not scored since February 2021, he kept his nerve to drive a shot through a packed penalty area and into the bottom corner.

The Wolves fans celebrated noisily at the final whistle but it was a crushing blow for Rangnick, with his side remaining seventh in the Premier League, a staggering 22 points behind leaders Manchester City – although they have played two games fewer.

Wolves, meanwhile, are now three points and one place behind Manchester United in eighth.

Wonderful Wolves

It had been more than two weeks since Wolves last played, the home draw with Chelsea on 19 December, and it was 6 November since they had last been involved in a game that contained more than one goal.


As the opening period inched towards its conclusion, and Jones stretched to intercept a Nelson Semedo pass intended for Ruben Neves, who was in a shooting position, Wolves boss Bruno Lage offered an animated shrug of the shoulders.

Evidently, Lage believed his team should have had something tangible to show for an opening period in which they had an incredible 15 shots, the most by a visiting team at Old Trafford in the opening 45 minutes of a Premier League game since records started being kept in the 2004-05 season.

David de Gea was forced into a string of saves, denying Semedo and Daniel Podence twice. Arguably the pick was a fingertip effort to touch over a volley from Neves, who had controlled a headed Jones clearance on the edge of the penalty area.

Wolves were forced onto the defensive more often after half-time but even though they weathered the storm, it seemed they would have to settle for a point when Romain Saiss clipped the bar with a free-kick in his final game before heading off on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Morocco.


Moutinho had other ideas. And while Wolves’ run of games involving no more than a single goal now extends to eight, few in the visitors’ camp were worried about that.

Underwhelming United

The return of Phil Jones, who last played for Manchester United in a 6-0 defeat of Tranmere in the FA Cup on 26 January, 2020, was one of the few positives for the hosts

The return of Phil Jones, who last played for Manchester United in a 6-0 defeat of Tranmere in the FA Cup on 26 January, 2020, was one of the few positives for the hosts

It is becoming evident the issues that arose during the final weeks of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reign will not disappear through a change of manager.

Ronaldo was a muted force and the United fans did not think Mason Greenwood deserved to be substituted for Fernandes given the boos that accompanied his exit.

United were overrun in midfield during those opening stages and, as so often under Solskjaer, were left hoping for a moment of inspiration that did not come.

As it turned out, any fears about Jones playing instead of the injured Harry Maguire had long since been dispelled by the time Wolves scored. If anything, the defender was a galvanising presence.


It was a first United defeat since Solskjaer’s final game in charge, at Watford, on 20 November. For Rangnick, there is no quick fix to the mess United find themselves in.

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