Writer: DJ Wolves
Wolves qualified for the FA Cup Semi Finals with a win over Manchester United that will stay in the memories for a long time. This wasn’t only a win for Wolves it was a statement that they are closer to joining the Premier League elite than many people imagined, as they were quite simply superior to their illustrious opponents. Owners Fosun have been claiming that they want to take the club to the top of the English game and develop a stadium that could hold 50,000 supporters. This match showed that within two years Wolves have progressed from being a half decent Championship team to one that can go toe to toe with the biggest clubs in the land, and a stadium of 50,000 would not have been big enough to accommodate everyone that wanted to see this game.
With John Ruddy retaining his ever present position in this season’s FA Cup team it was otherwise the same 11 that started at Chelsea last week for this game. In the early stages it was Utd dominating possession with the front three of Lingard, Rashford and Martial pushed forward to face up to the Wolves back 3 with the attacking intent that Solskjaer has reinstated into their game. But they were unable to exert much pressure on the goal and gradually Neves and Moutinho took control of the midfield and from that time on Wolves always looked the more likely winners.
The first clear chance of the game came when a Neves through ball split open the United defence but Jota was foiled by keeper Romero. The keeper was then to go on and keep the scores level in the early stages of the second half with excellent saves from Jimenez and Moutinho. The breakthrough came in the 70th minute when Moutinho cleverly darted between three defenders to the left of the penalty area before feeding Jimenez. The striker tried to turn and shoot, then tried to lay the ball back to Dendoncker, but when the ball rebounded back to him he turned on a sixpence and turned the ball in. The stadium had been rocking all night and the noise level reached new heights after that and erupted 6 minutes later when Jota outmuscled Shaw and broke through on the left of the area before driving a low shot in at the near post.
United never seriously threatened to recover from that double blow when Shaw got through on the left of Wolves area and squared for Rashford to turn and score. But that came in the 95th minute and there wasn’t time for another United attack and Wolves were on their way to Wembley.
Ruddy 7 – had a quiet evening but what he did he did well.
Saiss 8 – retained his place despite the availability of Bennett and justified his position by holding his own against a left sided trio of Martial, Pogba and Shaw who could easily have been United’s match winners.
Coady 8 – with Rashford playing well forward this should have been a big test for the central defender but his defending, intercepting and distribution were as reliable as they have been for the last two seasons.
Boly 8 – a powerhouse in defence and a threat when going forward for corners.
Doherty 8 – signed for a few bob from Bohemians in 2010 and now looking very much the part against top class opposition. Got forward to be a great outlet on the right wing in the second half.
Dendoncker 8 – now firmly established in the team and becoming a key player defensively and in midfield.
Neves 9 – ran the game for large parts with excellent short and long passes and some decent long range shots. Became 22 this week and you have to wonder just how good he will be in a few years time.
Moutinho 9 – surely the Premier League signing of the season at £5m, the guy is simply top class.
Jonny 8 – a top quality full back and wing back. Superb technique where he charges in to face up to attackers but then never makes a rash challenge, just forces his opponents to check.
Jimenez 9 – reportedly Wolves have agreed a £30m fee to sign him before his loan expires, and if that is true he would be a bargain at twice that price. Has got better and better as the season has gone on and there can be few better centre forwards anywhere on the planet.
Jota 8 – a constant threat to United with his positive runs and his link up with Jiminez. Took his goal superbly.
Traore and Costa used as late subs.
It’s an international break next weekend which gives a break from the domestic scene and gives supporters the chance to recover from, and savour, this memorable win. Next league games are a trip to Burnley on the last Saturday of March, before a home game against guess who, Man Utd on April 2nd. Hopefully Wolves can keep the momentum going in the league before a cup semi final date the following weekend for which ticket and travel plans will be the main agenda for supporters in the next couple of weeks.