Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 Manchester United
Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves put on a brilliant second-half show at Molineux to see off Manchester United and charge into the FA Cup semi-finals.
After a dreary first half, the game sparked into life in the second. Wolves hit the Red Devils twice in six minutes as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men had no answer to their hosts’ skill and tenacity until Marcus Rashford bagged a 95th-minute consolation.
We almost had one of the biggest FA Cup 2019 results imaginable earlier when Swansea City led Manchester City 2-0 well into the second half of their tie, but the Sky Blues turned the game on its head to win 2-3. We had a huge result here, though. I wouldn’t say this was a shock, but Manchester United are a big scalp to take in any competition.
Highlights of the game
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba argues with referee Martin Atkinson during their FA Cup match against Wolverhampton Wanderers
It was a scrappy start to the game with neither side looking fluent in the wet and windy conditions, and it was ten minutes before we saw a shot on goal: Manchester United skipper Paul Pogba curled one wide after good work from Marcus Rashford.
As both teams continued to struggle, it took Wolves almost half an hour to have a shot on goal — Ruben Neves firing one in from twenty yards — but it went straight to United keeper Sergio Romero. The best action of the first half came in the closing minutes. First, the visitors appealed for a penalty after Ander Herrera took a shot and the ball appeared to hit Jonny on the arm, but VAR said ‘no’. And then Romero made a brave save, charging off his line to deny Diogo Jota after he latched on to a Neves through ball.
The Molineux crowd drifted into the concourses to escape the cold and hope for a better second half. Experienced goalkeeper John Ruddy has been Wolves’ FA Cup last line of defence, and he couldn’t have hoped for an easier ride in the first 45 minutes.
It didn’t get much busier for him in the next 45!
Wolves started the second half on the front foot, Neves with a spectacular try from well over 30 yards, and then Romero kept the scores level with a brilliant save from a Raul Jimenez header which seemed destined for the top corner. And the visitors’ keeper made another good save to keep out a curling effort from Joao Moutinho.
The Red Devils fought back, and Chris Smalling was inches away from getting the vital touch when Rashford fired a dangerous ball across the box. But then Wolves got the goal their play deserved on 70 minutes. Moutinho did well to evade the visitors’ defence and get the ball into Jimenez, who slid the ball past Romero and into the net, to prompt bedlam in a sea of gold.
And the roof came off the stadium again just six minutes later when Jota beat Luke Shaw on the halfway line and tore into the United territory before firing a bullet past Romero at his near post.
Rashford fired his late goal past Ruddy, but that was virtually the last action of the game.
It was no more than Wolves deserved, and they can now look forward to a trip to Wembley. Solskjaer’s Premier League charge was halted by Arsenal last week, and now the Red Devils are out of the FA Cup. But they are fighting for a top-four place and are still in the Champions League.
The Red Devils have a big few weeks ahead.
Under 2.75 @ 2.00 RB Leipzig Asian Handicap -1.25 @ 1.97 1X2 Draw @ 4.30CLICK HEREDisclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.Bundesliga
A Wolves win was at betting odds of 3.20 with us, and in the end, they were full value for their victory.
In a dreary first half, Manchester United dominated possession and used the ball well, with 90 per cent passing accuracy. But they only managed one shot on target as Wolves looked slightly more threatening on the break.
By the end of the game, the visitors had only managed two shots on target while the hosts registered seven.
Wolves have reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup for the first time since 1988.
Wolves have had a brilliant year in the top flight after storming the Championship last season, and the FA Cup 2019 betting odds will likely install them as second favourites to lift this trophy.
Manchester United need to dust themselves off as there is much left to play for. There were echoes of the old days (under Alex Ferguson) when the Red Devils pulled off a stunning recovery to beat PSG in the Champions League Round of 16; they also have a mouth-watering quarter-final tie against Barcelona, Messi and all, to look forward to.
But before that, and after the international break, Manchester United welcome Watford to Old Trafford as Solskjaer aims to lift his team back into the top four. And the following Tuesday, they return to Molineux for a league clash with Wolves.
Nuno’s team will warm up for that rematch with an away game at relegation-threatened Burnley.
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