No fairy-tale ending for Nuno as much-changed Man Utd down Wolves

Date published: Sunday 23rd May 2021 6:03 - Neil Foster

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Manchester United warmed up for the Europa League final with a 2-1 victory over Wolves in Nuno Espirito Santo’s final game in charge of the West Midlanders. 

The Red Devils went ahead through Anthony Elanga but Nelson Semedo levelled affairs for the host. Juan Mata’s penalty in first-half stoppage time gave them the lead once again and proved to be the winner.

In his final game in charge Nuno made three changes, with Romain Saiss, Leander Dendoncker and Rui Patricio back in the line-up. John Ruddy, Max Kilman and Morgan Gibbs-White made way but it was all change for United.

Only Axel Tuanzebe was retained from their previous match, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer having one eye on Europe. Youngsters Amad Diallo and Elanga were included while Donny van Beek, Nemanja Matic and Mata got the nod.

The hosts made a bright start as Adama Traore flashed a shot across Dean Henderson’s goal. But United were soon at the races and Elanga should have done better when firing over the bar.

But he made amends on 13 minutes as the visitors took the lead. Dan James flew down the left before sending in an excellent cross for Elanga to power home.

Despite all the changes, the visitors began to play some good football, with Van de Beek and Mata bossing midfield. Roared on by the home faithful, Wolves lifted themselves and Traore’s shot was deflected for a corner.

But soon afterwards the Spaniard was forced off following a challenge with Tuanzebe and replaced by Willian Jose. That appeared to quieten the crowd as Traore seemed the hosts main goal threat.

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However, the home side were level through Semedo six minutes before the break. After an excellent move involving Joao Moutinho and Dendoncker, Fabio Silva’s measured pass found Semedo.

And the Portuguese ace stroked the ball past Henderson to ignite the home fans. But United were back in front from the penalty spot two minutes into added time.

Saiss clipped Van de Beek and, after a VAR review, Mike Dean pointed to the spot. Mata made no mistake from 12 yards to silence the crowd once again.

Crowd can’t lift Nuno and Wolves

Wolves came out firing after the break as chants of Nuno’s barmy army rang out around Molineux. But it was United who should have scored as Daniel James wasted an excellent chance on 58 minutes.

Through one-on-one, the youngest tried to lift the ball over Rui Patricio but fluffed his lines. The crowd became more and more subdued as the afternoon wore on, with little action to speak of.

There were signs of life towards the of the match as Wolves pushed forward. Tuanzebe pulled off two superb block to deny Silva and keep United ahead.

The rain began to fall towards the end of the match which failed to get going after the break. It signalled the end of Nuno’s time in charge at Molineux and gave United a spur for bigger things to follow.

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