Wolves 1-2 Manchester United: Mata ruins Nuno’s farewell

Matt Stead
Anthony Elanga celebrates his goal

Manchester United prepared for the Europa League final with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Wolves.

Anthony Elanga scored his first Premier League goal the open the scoring at Molineux before Nelson Semedo equalised at the end of a fine team move from the hosts.

Juan Mata put Manchester United back in front on the stroke of half-time with his first goal since April 2019, converting from the penalty spot after Roman Saiss was adjudged to have tripped Donny van de Beek.

In managing to go through the campaign without suffering a loss on the road, United have matched a feat only previously achieved in the English top-flight by Preston in 1888-89 and Arsenal in 2001-02 and 2003-04.

They had already been confirmed as finishing second in the table, while Wolves end the season in 13th place on the day fans returned to Molineux and bade farewell to Nuno after a four-year tenure.

With the runners-up spot sealed and Wednesday’s Europa League final against Villarreal ahead, Solskjaer made 10 changes to his starting-line up.

Axel Tuanzebe was the sole player retaining his place from the 1-1 draw with Fulham on Tuesday, with the likes of Edinson Cavani, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and David De Gea dropping out of the squad entirely.

Nuno, meanwhile, made three changes from Wednesday’s 1-0 loss to Everton for his last game in the job, two days on from Wolves’ announcement that he would be leaving by mutual consent following the contest.

A crowd of 4,500 Wolves fans were permitted to attend, and various chants of appreciation for the Portuguese were sung by the supporters both before the game outside the ground and during the match.

There were also some boos heard from the stands when the players took a knee ahead of kick-off.

Wolves fans

Adama Traore produced the first attempt of the match when he flashed a shot across the face of the United goal in the second minute and Elanga then fired over the bar at the other end.

Five minutes later, the Swedish youngster was on target as he marked what was his second senior appearance with his first United goal, connecting with Daniel James’ cross from the left to head past Rui Patricio.

Wolves responded with a Fabio Silva header and an off-target Traore strike. Traore subsequently had a penalty appeal waved away by referee Mike Dean after a tussle with Tuanzebe before having to go off injured, with Willian Jose replacing him.

The home side drew level when Silva produced a cut-back and Semedo slid in and sent the ball past Dean Henderson.

Soon after, Patricio did well to save a Brandon Williams effort and United’s lead was then restored in the final moments of the half.

Saiss’ challenge on Van De Beek led to a VAR review, and after watching the incident back on the pitchside monitor, Mike Dean awarded the penalty that Mata stroked past Patricio in composed fashion.

After the break, Jose and Rayan Ait-Nouri saw efforts comfortably dealt with by Henderson, either side of James being played in but was only able to send a shot wide.

Silva was twice thwarted by Williams blocks in the 79th minute and, after Amad Diallo saw a shot saved by Patricio, substitute Morgan Gibbs-White and Willy Boly struck wide in the closing moments as Wolves were unable to prevent Nuno’s tenure ending in defeat.