Joao Moutinho’s late strike downed an insipid Manchester United as Wolves recorded a 1-0 win in the Premier League on Monday.
Wolves had not played since December 19 due to COVID-19 issues but dominated the opening proceedings at Old Trafford, United only holding on thanks to David de Gea repeatedly thwarting Bruno Lage’s side.
Substitute Bruno Fernandes and Roman Saiss traded second-half strikes against the woodwork, either side of Cristiano Ronaldo – stand-in captain in the absence of Harry Maguire – seeing a goal ruled out for offside.
Moutinho then struck with eight minutes remaining to condemn Ralf Rangnick to his first defeat in charge of the Red Devils, who sit seventh in the league – four points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.
Wolves had not scored in their last 13 league games against United, dating back to 2004, but pinned back Rangnick’s languid side for much of the first half.
Daniel Podence twice forced smart stops from De Gea, while the Spain international produced an expert save to tip over Ruben Neves’ thunderous volley as Lage’s side headed in at the break with nothing to show for their efforts.
United picked up the pace after the interval, Fernandes slamming onto the crossbar following Nemanja Matic’s cross before teeing up Ronaldo’s header past Jose Sa, which was disallowed for offside.
Saiss curled a free-kick against the woodwork, with Moutinho then delivering the decisive strike as he fired into the bottom-left corner.
Sa kept out Fernandes’ stoppage-time free-kick as Lage’s side played out an eighth straight league game with less than one goal scored in it.
What does it mean? Rangnick’s unbeaten start ends in sorry fashion
Wolves outshot United 15-4 in the first half – the most efforts a visiting side has had in the opening 45 minutes at Old Trafford since Opta began recording data in 2003-04 – and were unfortunate to not be rewarded for their endeavours.
However, United’s toothless performance was eventually punished by Moutinho’s drilled attempt as Wolves recorded their first league win since February 1980 at United, who dropped further ground in their pursuit for the Champions League places.
Rangnick suffered his first loss in five league games at the helm in Manchester, while Lage’s side moved up to eighth and within three points of the Red Devils.
Almost perfect from Podence
The diminutive Podence posed a constant threat to United throughout the game, constantly slotting in between the pivot of Matic and Scott McTominay.
The Belgium international created a game-high four chances – joint with team-mate Trincao – while testing De Gea with another game-leading three shots on target, two more than any United player recorded.
Jimenez fails to fire
Wolves, despite their hard-working and impressive performances, have failed to fire in front of goal in the Premier League this season. Indeed, their leading striker Raul Jimenez has only found the net three times this term on his return from a concerning head injury last campaign.
The Mexico striker was provided with an abundance of opportunities yet again, but characterised Wolves’ lack of clinical finishing as he could not hit the target with either of his three presentable chances.
Key Opta facts
– United have failed to score in four different Premier League home games this season, already more than they did in the whole of 2020-21 (three).
– United have lost their opening league match in two of the last three calendar years, as many defeats as they’d suffered in the previous 23 years before that.
– Thirty six per cent of Wolves’ Premier League goals against Manchester United have come from outside the box (4/11), the highest of all 31 teams to have scored at least 10 goals against them in the competition.
– Phil Jones made his first Premier League appearance for United in 712 days, since a 2-0 loss against Burnley in January 2020. It is the longest gap a player who has not left the club (including loan spells) has had between Premier League apps for the Red Devils.
United face an FA Cup clash with Aston Villa, who are also Rangnick’s next league opponents, next Monday. Wolves host Sheffield United in their third-round clash in the same cup on Sunday.