Player Ratings, Reaction and Highlights : Wolves 1-2 Manchester United

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Manchester United, already guaranteed of second place in the league, concluded their domestic season with a new club record after going unbeaten in away games for the entire season.

It means whatever happens on Wednesday, United can justifiably claim that the season has been one of progression from last season’s third-placed finish, especially considering how low expectations were as recently as November.

For a while it seemed as though United would struggle to qualify for the Champions League and that the manager may struggle to retain his job – and while third might be a false position against a fully-fit Liverpool, United have not been without considerable injuries themselves, and over the course of a season the league table doesn’t lie.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named a much-changed side with the Europa League final in mind, and if his selection gave any indication of what to expect in Gdansk then David De Gea will be likely to start in goal.

Other than that, eyes were on Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe to see which would pass the audition to partner Victor Lindelof should Harry Maguire not make it back. On this evidence, and that of the last two weeks or so, it should be Bailly and Tuanzebe.

Games against Wolves have traditionally been tight affairs since they returned to the top flight so there was an expectation that the hosts would see out their own manager on a high – but United’s reserves were far better than they were against Leicester almost two weeks ago.

A sign of their confidence came when Anthony Elanga did well to get on the end of a fine Dan James cross – Elanga’s header thumping past Rui Patricio for his first ever goal for United.

Wolves equalised, but United hit back soon after when the impressive Van De Beek was fouled in the box; Juan Mata stepped up to take the penalty, and gave his side a half-time lead.

The task of Wolves was made much harder by the enforced withdrawal through injury of Adama Traore midway through the first period – making Alex Telles’ afternoon much less of a headache than it had been.

A third goal should have followed in the 58th minute; the very impressive Amad clipped a through ball to James, who was clear of the defence, but horribly screwed his shot wide. It was hard luck for James, who had that earlier excellent assist, but it was a moment which served as evidence that United’s requirement seems to be a class above what James can offer as a starter.

Fans were back in Molineux and they spent much of their afternoon booing referee Mike Dean, despite the Liverpool-born official actually having given the earlier penalty decision in their favour before being forced to consult VAR and reverse it.

Shola Shoretire and Hannibal Mejbri came on, the latter making his first-team debut, with eight minutes to go, with Mata departing for possibly the final time as a United player after eight years at the club.

Neither youngster were able to make as big an impression as Amad had; a timely reminder of the quality waiting to burst through at Old Trafford ahead of a summer where Jadon Sancho is expected to dominate headlines with speculation of a move back to Manchester.

Ratings

Henderson 7

Williams 7

Tuanzebe 7

Bailly 7

Telles 6

Matic 7

Van De Beek 7

Elanga 7

Mata 7

James 7

Amad 8

Subs:

Hannibal

Shoretire

Fish

Goals

Wayne Barton

Wayne is a writer and producer. His numerous books on Manchester United include the family-authorised biography of Jimmy Murphy. He wrote and produced the BT Sport films 'Too Good To Go Down' in 2018, and 'True Genius', in 2021, both adapted from his books of the same name. In 2015 he was described by the Independent as the 'leading writer on Manchester United' and former club chairman Martin Edwards has described him as 'the pre-eminent writer on the club'.

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