Man Utd, Wolves split spoils at Old Trafford
There was nothing to separate Manchester United and Wolves in a scoreless draw at Old Trafford on Saturday.
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It was a terrific advertisement for Portugal, with Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, and Bruno Fernandes all putting together performances on the day.
The points earned move both to 35 points, one behind fifth-place Sheffield United.
Three things we learned
1. Fernandes the real deal: Bruno Fernandes didn’t get on the score sheet on debut, but the big money January signing showed United fans what they already knew they were missing. The Portuguese had over 100 touches, three shots on target, and a penchant for finding dangerous spaces. As much as any player can be worth the big prices thrown around these days, Fernandes showed signs of being worth his.
2. Wolves run the midfield, still: While Fernandes was pretty good and plenty promising, Wolves’ midfield duo of Ruben Neves and Joao Moutinho were the momentum merchants over 90 minutes. United had most of the ball, but Neves and Moutinho were sure to make sure the spaces to make plays were mostly well outside the danger areas.
3. Red Devils defend well: The Wolves back line wasn’t your proverbial chopped liver, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men had a day. Even in moments when they were skinned, like Diogo Jota dicing up Victor Lindelof, the others were there to deal with the danger. Both Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka had key moments out wide, and Maguire was strong in the middle.
Man of the Match: Moutinho posted 89 percent passes and connected on five of six long passes while winning seven of 10 duels, making six tackles and three interceptions.
Both clubs had chances early, the best an Andreas Pereira arrow well wide of the goal.
Wolves star Raul Jimenez was his influential self, and United needed Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire interventions in the first 23 minutes.
Adama Traore rocketed a 35th minute shot just over the goal.
Juan Mata laid off for Bruno Fernandes to rifle at Rui Patricio in the 40th, and Fernandes mishit another bid within 45 seconds.
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Diogo Jota cooked Victor Lindelof in one of two early second half moments of promise without end product for Wolves.
Fred had a penalty call go unheard when his shot struck Joao Moutinho’s arm, and Fernandes hit a hopeful ball to Patricio as the match neared its final 20 minutes.
Substitute Mason Greenwood smashed a shot that took two turns before Patricio collected it in the 79th.
Maguire was denied off a set piece when Patricio raced off his line to close down the big back.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka sent in a beautiful cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time, but Diogo Dalot’s stooping header bounded wide of the frame.