WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS 2, MANCHESTER UNITED 1
Jota’s equaliser and Chris Smalling’s own goal wiped out Scott McTominay’s first Manchester United goal as Wolves came from 1-0 down to win 2-1 at a wet Molineux with United down to 10 men for over half an hour.
It was a repeat of the FA Cup quarter final result from March 16 and represents a new challenge for permanent United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who has now lost twice to Wolves in the space of three games.
His United side have now lost three out of the last four games after a sparkling start to his Old Trafford managerial career and the Norwegian will have to lift his side for their next game against West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Solskjaer will have to do it without Ashley Young, who was sent off for a second yellow card midway through the second half – forcing referee Mike Dean to show the 100th red card of his career to the defender.
And Luke Shaw will be missing West Ham and Everton after accumulating 10 bookings for the season.Embed from Getty Images
Marcus Rashford was ruled out with an ankle injury and he was ruled out along with Ander Herrera as Solskjaer made six changes from the side that beat Watford 2-1 on Saturday.
Victor Lindelof, Diogo Dalot, Fred, Scott McTominay, Jesse Lingard, and Romelu Lukaku came into the side while Phil Jones, Anthony Martial, and Nemanja Matic dropped to the bench and Rashford and Herrera missed out altogether.
The Red Devils had started brilliantly as United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appeared to have learnt his lesson from their previous encounter with Wolves.
Lukaku had the first chance of the game – a header straight at Rui Patricio after a great cross by Dalot – as United tried to gain an early advantage in the difficult conditions.
McTominay put United into a 13th minute lead when Luke Shaw found Fred who moved he ball on to the United midfielder who unleashed a diagonal shot from the edge of the area that beat Patricio – his first goal for the Red Devils.
Lingard could have doubled that advantage 5 minutes later after Lukaku found him with a chipped ball but the midfielder’s header was clawed away by Patricio.
The home side deflated United when Diogo Jota beat the offside trap and levelled matters with a lifted shot after the United defence fell asleep in the 25th minute when Fred failed to control David De Gea’s ball out of defence and Raul Jimenez slipped the ball through to his team mate.
It was hard on United who had been excellent up till the equaliser and the home side improved massively leaving United losing cohesion and failing to cope with Wolves as they sent crosses into their box.
Paul Pogba was having another average match, with little coming off for him but there was worse news to come in the second half.
United were hit with a second yellow card for Ashley Young after a dangerous tackle on Jota who stayed down after the reckless challenge on his ankle in the 57th minute which forced referee Mike Dean to produce his 100th career red card.
Dalot had to be withdrawn into the right back slot as United reorganised with Wolves sensing blood.
Phil Jones came on for Fred in the 65th minus and Anthony Martial replaced Lukaku after 73 minutes.
Chris Smalling scored an own goal in the 77th minute after a mistake by De Gea during a goal mouth scramble.
Joao Moutinho crossed into the area from the left and Phil Jones challenged Jimenez for the ball before Dendoncker forced Smalling to put through his own net under pressure.
Solskjaer’s final roll of the dice was to swap Andreas Pereira for Dalot with 6 minutes to go as United chased the equaliser.
But it was De Gea who had to save from Smalling again as the unlucky defender tried to cut out a cross but nearly scored again at the wrong end as United’s comeback never came.
The result meant that United’s top four hopes took a massive blow as they stayed fifth in the Premier League and could be sixth by the time this weekend’s fixtures start with Chelsea to play Brighton tomorrow.