Youthful Man United spoil Espírito Santo’s Wolves farewell

Solskjaer’s side turn attentions to Gdansk after completing unbeaten away season

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Manchester United 2

So Nuno Espírito Santo waved farewell to Wolves after four years, with a win ratio better than Stan Cullis’s and a defeat that summed up this disappointing final season. But he was left in no doubt as to the affection in which he will always be held here as Molineux, home to a crowd for the first time in 442 days, took to their feet to show their appreciation.

Goals from Anthony Elanga and Juan Mata, Manchester United players at either end of their careers, ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjær's team became only the third club in top-division history to remain unbeaten away from home for the entire league season, joining Preston North End (1888/89) and Arsenal (2001/02 and 2003/4).

With second place in the Premier League already assured, United changed 10 players so this barely counted as preparation for their Europa League final against Villarreal in Gdansk on Wednesday but at least their second string could claim a first win over Nuno at Molineux.


The home side had equalised through Nélson Semedo’s first goal since last summer’s £27m move from Barcelona. But when Adama Traoré, in blistering form as he showed why Wolves are so keen to tie him down to a new contract, had to go off injured inside half an hour, the attacking bluntness of last season’s Europa League quarter-finalists was laid bare as they dominated possession without creating another chance of note.

Raúl Jiménez addressed the 4,000 crowd at half-time, as he looks forward to returning to action next season after he fractured his skull at Arsenal six months ago, a day when Wolves went sixth. They won 50 per cent of their games with the Mexican leading the line, compared with half that without him.

Elanga had already spurned one great chance, when he had lifted his shot high over the crossbar after receiving Daniel James’s low centre, before he opened the scoring. Again James, receiving Alex Telles’s pass down the left wing, was the provider, and his superb cross was headed thunderously home by the 19-year-old Swede for his first senior goal.

Even then the returning home crowd continued to fete Nuno and it was a shame both for home and neutral fans that Traoré had to leave the field, clutching his hamstring, midway through the half.

The Spain winger had been on fire as he ripped into United’s second string. It was from his cross that Fábio Silva headed wide and then Traoré himself blasted a shot that deflected wide.

He went down under the slightest of hand-offs from Axel Tuanzebe in the penalty area before he was replaced by Willian José.

It was from down the inside-right channel that Wolves conjured their goal. João Moutinho laid the ball off for Leander Dendoncker to play a first-time pass for Silva, accelerating into the area, to square just inside for Semedo to turn in his first goal for Wolves.

United went ahead in first-half stoppage time. Donny van de Beek felt Romain Saïss make contact as he ran across goal and took the option to go down. Mata converted the penalty with elan.

James should have made the game safe when he was sent clear 13 minutes into the second half but he dinked a weak shot wide.

This was the first time Wolves had lost three successive Premier League games under Nuno but their fans still gave him a rousing farewell. - Guardian