Rangnick suffers first defeat as United manager
Manchester United’s hopes of challenging for the Premier League title suffered a major blow as they lost 1-0 to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Monday. The defeat was the first for interim manager Ralf Rangnick, who had won his previous two games in charge.
Wolves scored the only goal of the game in the 82nd minute, when Joao Moutinho fired a low shot past David de Gea from the edge of the box. The Portuguese midfielder capitalized on a poor clearance by Phil Jones, who was making his first league appearance in almost two years.
United had few chances to equalize, as Wolves defended resolutely and frustrated the hosts with their pressing and counter-attacking. The result left United seventh in the table, four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal, while Wolves moved up to eighth.
Wolves dominate first half
Wolves started the game brightly and created several opportunities to take the lead in the first half. Daniel Podence, Ruben Neves and Nelson Semedo all tested De Gea with shots from distance, while Raul Jimenez and Adama Traore also caused problems for United’s defence.
United struggled to cope with Wolves’ intensity and pace, and failed to create any clear-cut chances of their own. Their best opening came when Edinson Cavani received a pass from Mason Greenwood, but the Uruguayan striker blasted his shot over the bar instead of passing back to his teammate.
Rangnick made a change at half-time, bringing on Bruno Fernandes for Greenwood, but the substitution was met with boos from some of the home fans, who felt that the young winger had been United’s most creative player.
United fail to improve after break
The second half was more even, as United tried to increase their tempo and possession, but Wolves remained dangerous on the break. Podence had a chance to score when he ran through on goal, but De Gea made a crucial save with his foot.
United’s best chance came in the 76th minute, when Cristiano Ronaldo headed a cross from Luke Shaw towards the bottom corner, but Jose Sa made a brilliant diving save to deny him. Ronaldo appealed for a penalty after he was clipped by Max Kilman, but the referee waved play on.
Wolves then punished United for their wastefulness, as Moutinho scored his first goal of the season with a precise finish. United had no response, as Wolves held on for a historic win at Old Trafford.
What they said
Rangnick admitted that his team did not play well and that they have a lot of work to do.
“We didn’t play well at all individually or collectively. In the first half, we had big problems to keep them away from our goal,” he said.
“The game showed we still have a lot of work to do. We had too many unforced errors. I don’t want to speak about individual performances of players. It’s an issue of the whole team. It doesn’t make sense.”
Wolves manager Bruno Lage praised his players for their performance and their attitude.
“We did a great job today, we deserved this win. We played very well in the first half, we created chances, we pressed high. In the second half, we controlled the game and scored a fantastic goal,” he said.
“I’m very proud of my players, they showed character and personality. They played with passion and quality. We are happy with this result, but we have to keep working hard and improving.”