|Photo from: The Sun|
Manchester United were left with a sour taste in their mouth as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw after a quite dominant display away at Wolves on Monday night.
Despite coming away with a point from a ground in which United faced many problems over the last year, the result felt much like a defeat for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men who put in another solid performance, particularly in the first half, and were a Paul Pogba spot kick away from securing all three points at the Molineux.
There were a lot of questions about how United will approach this game. Will the Reds sit back and hit Wolves on the counter, or will the team utilise the effective high press in order to retain the ball and take control of the game?
For the best part of the 90 minutes, it was the latter. United looked very comfortable for most of the game, enjoying a lot of the possession and creating some promising half chances. In minute 26, the best chance of the first half was buried by United’s new (old) No. 9, Anthony Martial.
After some neat build up play on the left-hand side, Marcus Rashford found himself with the ball at his feet on the edge of the Wolves area before slipping in the sprinting Frenchman who coolly unleashed a left-footed rocket into the hosts goal. A very impressive, striker’s finish.
United remained in control for the rest of the half, and could have had a second right before the interval, with Martial just failing to control a loose ball misplaced by a Wolves defender.
Heading into the break, United had filled the fans with confidence after a very well-rounded display, but the hosts had not said their last word in this game.
United’s improved defence was about to be put to the test by a motivated Wolves side, injected with fresh energy by the half-time introduction of Adama Traore. The hosts gradually began to grow into the game as the second half went on, and they managed to find the equaliser shortly after Raul Jimenez clattered the post with a towering header.
The ever so impressive Ruben Neves brought Wolves level with a cracking strike from just outside of the box after a crafty set piece routine from a corner, something United could definitely take notes from for the future.
But despite conceding that goal and with the Wolves faithful getting behind their team, United seemed to recover quite well, regaining control of the proceedings. And just as it was beginning to look as though the Reds are banging their heads against a wall that is Wolves’ defence, Paul Pogba stepped forward with a bit of magic.
The Frenchman shrugged off his marker down the left-hand side before sliding a ball into the feet of Martial, who then returned the ball to his compatriot with a nifty backheel. Pogba then flicked the ball past a Wolves defender and was brought down inside the box, with the referee pointing to the spot. That was that one moment of magic that only Pogba is capable of, and that United desperately needed at that stage of the game.
The Frenchman then went on to claim the penalty from last week’s taker Rashford, with United’s No. 10 obliging to hand over the duty. And with the three points on the line, we found out that Paul Pogba is human, just like us, as his penalty was saved by Rui Patricio.
The game ended 1-1, and Pogba was visibly frustrated with himself at the full-time whistle, showing that in spite of all the transfer rumours, winning at United is his number one objective, for right now at least.
The fact that this 1-1 draw away to Wolves, who had defeated United in their last two meetings at the Molineux, feels like a loss shows that this team is making some progress. The exclusion of certain players from the matchday squads and the way in which Solskjaer is trying to get the team to play are big positives to take on going forward. And four points after having to face Chelsea at home and Wolves away are certainly not the worst of ways to start the season.