Manchester United moved up to second in the Premier League on Tuesday evening with a last gasp victory against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In what was a tight-fought affair, it took until the 93rd minute of the game for the Red Devils to break through thanks to Marcus Rashford’s deflected effort.
Here are three things we learned from Old Trafford:
From one extreme to the other at Old Trafford
Having seen their team plunder six goals against Leeds United last time out in an exhilarating attacking showing, Manchester United supporters will be disappointed to have seen their team revert back to more sloppy, uninspiring play despite victory. The Red Devils, unlike against Leeds, struggled to create any real chances of note throughout the game – the clearest opportunity being a volleyed effort from Bruno Fernandes in the first-half. In fact, that was only one of their three shots on target during the 90 minutes.
Their drop off from their previous home match is even starker considering that they managed to generate 26 shots against Leeds, 14 of them being on target. Whereas this time around, they only managed to just 11 shots in total, just two more than Wolves.
Mark of champions?
It is certainly true that the Red Devils struggled to get going throughout the game but they eventually managed to snatch the win when it really mattered. Rashford kept hassling the Wolves defence and earned his rewards late on as he manufactured space and then saw his effort deflected in off of the otherwise impressive Romain Saiss.
To agree with the well-broadcast cliche, it could be a mark of champions that even when not producing the best of performances, a team is still capable of earning three points.
The victory also brings Jurgen Klopp’s table-topping Reds into focus, with Manchester United now sitting just two points behind their great rivals heading into 2021. They can now be backed at a price of 17/2 with Betfair to win the Premier League title come the end of the campaign.
Wolves’ defensive discipline almost denies Red Devils
Whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men were not all too inspiring when it came to getting into attacking positions, they were not the main contributors to that. The visitors’ defensive discipline was impressive, limiting Manchester United to rare opportunities before their eventual winning goal.
So often, Wolves had plenty of bodies back to ensure that their hosts were simply not able to find enough space in the attacking third. The midfield duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho have to take a lot of credit for that fact. The two Portuguese produced nine tackles between them, six coming from Neves and the further three being provided by the veteran Moutinho. Only Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Ki-Jana Hoever got near those numbers with three of their own.
That organisation and ability to snuff out any fledgling attacks from the Red Devils was almost enough to see them earn what would have been a well-earned point.
Manchester United: De Gea (7); Telles (6) (Shaw (7), 46′), Maguire (7), Bailly (7), Wan-Bissaka (7); Matic (7), Pogba (6); Rashford (7), Fernandes (6), Greenwood (5) (Martial (6), 64′); Cavani (6).
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Patricio (7); Ait-Nouri (7), Kilman (6), Saiss (7), Coady (6), Hoever (6); Moutinho (7), Neves (7), Vitinha (6) (Podence (5), 55′); Neto (6) (Silva (6), 68′), Adama (6).
Goals: Rashford (90+3′)
Referee: Jon Moss
Yellow Cards: Rashford (50′), Patricio (73′)
Red Cards: N/A