|Picture Courtesy of https://www.bbc.com/sport/football|
An FA Cup 3rd round replay to determine progression into the next round of the prestigious tournament was probably not what either Manchester United and or Wolves were looking forward to last night as they lined up at Old Trafford. Particularly with both teams having a am-packed fixture list for January 2020. Solskjaer in particular had to select a team with one eye on the key fixture this Sunday at Anfield against arch rivals and run-away League Leaders Liverpool. Man Utd’s season has been extremely inconsistent to say the least and the FA Cup offers the Red Devils an opportunity to deliver a piece of silver wear at the end of a topsy turvy season. With transfer rumours circulating all around Old Trafford of possible signings and players leaving Old Trafford during the January transfer window period the Red Devils were under pressure to deliver a favourable result and progress to the next stage of the cup.
The major talking point was team selection for the Red Devils with Marcus Rashford not starting the match after he was subbed off with an apparent injury against Norwich on Saturday. Mason Greenwood Sergio Romero and Juan Mata were the three changes made who played against Norwich which United won comfortably 4-0. Wolves had not lost to Solskjaer’s reds since their return to top flight football and have an impressive record against their opponents. United started the match off pretty brightly and showed their intention nearly finding a breakthrough inside three minutes. Juan Mata’s delicate ball over Wolves’ high line released Daniel James, but John Ruddy was swiftly out to make a vital touch. Wolves also showed glimpses of their counter attack prowess and the visitors were next to offer the goal threat as star striker Raul Jimenez was allowed to twist away from Brandon Williams, however Sergio Romero was up to the task and saved a fairly tame shot to keep his side in the match. VAR decision saved Red Devils blushes as a handball decision went against the visitors. Jimenez inadvertently hand ball allowed the ball to be directed it into the path of Pedro Neto, who coolly tucked his shot under Romero only to have the goal disallowed. The game ebbed and flowed with The Red Devils looking to take advantage of their good fortune and Juan Mata was next to test the goal of Wolves with a powerful strike saved by Goalie John Ruddy. Both teams had chances to open the scoring prior to half time but a 0-0 score line was due to chances not being taken and was probably a true reflection of the game.
The Second half was slow to start and get going as Manchester United struggled to get into a rhythm and a decision to do a double substitution bring on fresh legs by Solskjaer with bringing on his talisman Marcus Rashford and Andrea Pereira for Mason Greenwood and Daniel James in the 63rd minute. This was a surprise decision as Marcus Rashford had shown sign of picking up a slight injury against Norwich on the weekend and with the massive game against Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday it was thought to be a huge risk to bring Marcus Rashford on. The goal was directly influenced by Marcus Rashford in the 67th minute but at what cost to many Man Utd fans horror he had to be substituted in the 80th minute as Jesse Lingard replaced the Red Devils striker. Man United have always managed to score in a fantastic run of ties of 17 games at Old Trafford and it was Martial who collected a ball hoofed over from Harry Maguire to feed Mata and who held his nerve and lifted his shot over an advancing Ruddy to finally break the 157 minute deadlock. The Red Devils managed to see the game out and clinch the all-important win, however the possible loss of Marcus Rashford to injury could take the gloss off the victory.
Sergio Romero – 7.5
Was once again able to keep a clean sheet has an impressive record of 33 clean sheets in 53 appearances.
Aaron Wan- Bissaka – 6
Had his hand full with the attacking prowess of Wolves, he did manage to get forward and tried to find his forwards during the course of the game,
Harry Maguire – 7
Was occupied trying to keep Raul Jimenez quite and was fortunate with handball going United’s way thanks to VAR decision. He was instrumental in setting up the eventual winner.
Victor Lindelof – 6
Ball distribution was wasteful in first half and caught out of position on occasion.
Brandon Williams – 7
Really impressed able to stand up to the very daunting Adama Traore could be very happy with overall game. Grows more confident with every appearance.
Nemanja Matic – 5
Is struggling in the midfield to link with Fred and was given another tough outing, no match for the Wolves midfield and seemed to really find his stride throughout the game.
Fred – 5.5
Missing his partner Scott McTominay was able to make defensive tackles but seems to have lost his form displayed in December.
Juan Mata – 8.5 Man of Match
He was the star of the evening and was easily the best player on display scored a great decisive goal to win the tie.
Daniel James – 6
Had a few chances in the opening 15 minutes but was unable to convert any of them. Was subbed off on 63rd minute for Marcus Rashford.
Mason Greenwood – 5
Seemed off the pace of the game first half not really able to influence the game at all and Wolves were able to deal with him decisively. Subbed off for Andreas Pereira in the 63rdminute.
Anthony Martial – 6
Forlorn in the first-half looked not to be on the same wave length as his team mates and was instrumental in setting up Mata for the winner.
Marcus Rashford – 5
Went off injured came on for 15 minutes did influence the result. Major injury worries for key games against Liverpool on Sunday.
Andreas Pereira – 4.5
Careless in possession did not stamp authority on the game. Came on to replace Daniel James in 63rdminute.
Jesse Lingard – 5
Came on for Marcus Rashford in 80th minute no real chance to influence the game.