United ought to have settled this game and had their feet up before half time, but their profligacy in front of the Wolves’ goal nearly cost them dearly.
That United put in one of their most impressive first half performances in months almost counted for nothing as Wolves scored late and pegged the score back to 3-3. The return to form and fitness of Martinez, Casemiro and Shaw has made a huge difference to how Manchester United can perform and although at 70 minutes these player ratings looked rather different than the current ones given the near capitulation, but there was enough in the performance to be optimistic going into February.
Here are the player ratings:
André Onana (5/10):
Andre Onana is a different player when he has press resistant options in front of him and helps United control possession when Martinez et al are present. There were very few questions asked of him as a shot stopper in the first half but was grateful for Martinez whose goal line clearance bailed him out after he flapped at a cross. Unconvincing for Wolves’ second goal. He continues to be a shaky presence when the opposition put crosses into his area.
Diogo Dalot (7/10):
United’s first choice right back started and finished well. Not at fault for any of the Wolves goals and was instrumental in United’s first two goals. His 42nd minute block that richocheted out for a United goal kick was celebrated enthusiastically by Onana, Martinez and Varane.
Raphael Varane (7/10):
Performed solidly at the back for United and used the ball well to start some attacks. Neto shot through his legs for Wolves’ third goal. As a World Cup champion and multi Champions League winner, he should be helping his team see out games like this in less erratic fashion.
Lisandro Martinez (8/10):
What a difference it makes having your defensive leader and quarter back in the side. He received almost every Onana goal kick short and broke the lines with brave passing. The Argintine read things well at the back and nipped in front Matheus Cunha on a few occasions. Cleared off the line when Onana misjudged a cross and was left in no man’s land.
Luke Shaw (8/10):
His tireless running on the left hand side gave United so much impetus in attack.. Shaw’s genuine commitment to the overlap meant that the often isolated Semedo was left helplessly exposed. Shaw provided an assist for Hojlund and if he can stay injury free United will be a different prospect.
Yellow carded after 2 and a half minutes but still managed to make countless tackles and interceptions. Looks like he is still looking to get up to the pace of PL football which is understandable given he was making his first league start since October. Casemiro warmed into the game and his intelligence, astute positional play and composure showed what United have been missing in his absence. Should have scored in the 26th minute when he ghosted into space inside the Wolves penalty area and nodded a clever Fernandes free kick wide. Conceded a laughable penalty but gave a poor referee a difficult decision to make. He was subbed off shortly after.
Kobbie Mainoo (9/10):
Kobbie Mainoo is the most impressive midfielder United have produced since Paul Scholes and he saved his team on Thursday night. A young man who is always looking for work, even his loose passes were good and the right ones. Mainoo broke up countless Wolves attacks. Having him alongside Casemiro makes United a team that looks like they can finally control the tempo (at least against weaker opposition) Indeed when Casemiro made way, Mainoo assumed more control of the United midfield and indeed the game. His goal was a thing of pure beauty and will allow United fans to dream of what this kid can achieve over the next few years.
Bruno Fernandes (7/10):
Some key passes, should have had an assist in the first half for Casemiro. In the 4th minute of added time at the end of the half he had a chance to play a simple square pass to the unmarked Garnacho to kill the game but he fluffed his lines and his pass was ballooned out of play. Wasted two excellent chances to put the match beyond Wolves. Uncharacteristically wasteful in the final third but if he continues with Casemiro and Mainoo behind him we can expect more goals and assists from the captain.
Marcus Rashford (7/10):
What a way for Rashford to reintroduce himself. The last time United came to Molineuax Marcus Rashford was left out of the side for disciplinary issues he was introduced and scored the winner. This time he put United into the lead with an assured finish. Rashford worked hard defensively and his pass for goal number two was well timed and perfectly weighted. Rashford was at it today and did the simple things excellently.
Alejandro Garnacho (6/10):
Afforded space on the right and linked well with Dalot. He grew into the game and caused some problems for Toti and Doherty. Garnacho didn’t make the most of his opportunities on the counter attack but he does now look like the best option for Utd on the right hand side. The young man stood up to be counted against Wolves in terms of his workrate but his quality let him down. The more appearance he makes on the right, the more comfortable and effective he will prove to be.
Rasmus Højlund (8/10):
Scored a goal and an gave an assist early on for Marcus Rashford. Hojlund was a nuisance and occupied the Wolves centre halves well and dropped deep well to link play. A mature performance from a man who has benefitted from having netting in three of his previous four games. He should have buried a chance following a Garnacho cut back but Sa’s studs stopped him.
Scott McTominay (7/10):
The drop off in quality from first choice United midfielders to second choice is stark but Scott McTominay made a difference moments after coming on. He may not have the ability of the man he replaced but the big Scottish international netted his 7th goal of the season from a corner kick.
Did less than nothing in attack and worse than that, did not do his job defensively. It was interesting that he was asked to play on the left hand side despite both he and Garnacho preferring to play wide and cut in. Surely this means that ten Hag has lost faith in the Brazilian and prefers Garnacho to develop on the right.
Harry Maguire & Jonny Evans: (N/A)
Omari Forson (6/10):
The young academy product only came on in the 86th minute, but was promptly impactful in creating the goal for Mainoo’s winner.
Man of the Match:
Manchester United’s performance until the first Wolves’ goal was their most impressive this season. They showed composure and control and nobody could have complained had United been 4 or 5 goals to the good. Hojlund with a goal and an assist and Mainoo with his stunning winner stake good claims to be Man of the Match but I will opt for Lisandro Martinez. His return to the side allows all of the other players to play as well as they can. He allows his teammates to take up more advanced positions. He commits opposition players to close him down and he then plays a killer defence splitting pass. That he is back to his best gives cause for optimism.