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Lethargic United suffer first loss under Rangnick

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3rd January, 2022
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Joao Moutinho’s 82nd-minute goal earned Wolverhampton Wanderers a stunning first league win at Old Trafford since 1980.

The loss was the first for Manchester United since they sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November, replacing him with Ralf Rangnick.

The midlands team thoroughly deserved victory, dominating large parts of the match and having twice as many shots as a United team that looked woefully short of confidence.

The result was a disappointment for Moutinho’s compatriot, Cristiano Ronaldo, who captained United for the second time in a Premier League game. The previous occasion was on 19 March 2008, a 2-0 home win over Bolton.

In another throwback United included Phil Jones, the former England international. It was the 29-year-old’s first appearance for more than 700 days following two years of battling against injuries.

He had only made three appearances for the second team but Rangnick said, “since all other three centre-backs [are] out, he was the logical choice”.

Jones had one of the few decent United performances, but was partly at fault for Wolves’ goal.

Wolves made the early running with David De Gea forced to deny Daniel Podence then, athletically, a trademark Ruben Neves volley.

Jones made two key interceptions as the visitors dominated the half without scoring despite 15 shots.

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Bruno Lage’s team remained the most likely side after the break until United introduced Bruno Fernandes on the hour.

The Portuguese should have scored in the 67th minute but lashed a shot against the bar from Nemanja Matic’s cut-back.

With a goalless draw looming Wolves struck, Moutinho drilling a 20-yard shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the box after Jones had headed Adama Traore’s cross towards him.

It was only Wolves’ 14th goal in their 19 league games, but they have only conceded 14 too, goalkeeper Jose Sa maintaining that record with a flying 95th-minute save from a Fernandes free-kick.

Victory lifted Wolves up to eighth, one place behind United who are now four points off the top four with only one game left in hand.

© AAP

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