A second half goal from Juan Mata fired Manchester United to a narrow 1-0 win over Wolves in their FA Cup third round replay at Old Trafford.
Manchester United had a few chances in the first period with Daniel James and Juan Mata being denied by John Ruddy, while Wolves did score through Pedro Neto, only to see the goal chalked off by VAR for a handball during the buildup.
Halfway through the second half, Manchester United managed to break the deadlock as Mata beat Ruddy with a beautifully dinked effort after being played in by Anthony Martial. The Red Devils were solid enough to hold the visitors at bay and secure the win that will see them face either Watford or Tranmere Rovers in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Here’s how we rated the performances of the Manchester United players on Wednesday night.
Sergio Romero: 7/10
An excellent deputy to have. Came in for David de Gea and put in another solid display and bagging another clean sheet – his 33rd in 53 appearances. Showed good alertness and command to charge out and take care of any potential threats, while dealing with whatever little Wolves threw at him with relative comfort.
Sergio Romero’s goals conceded this season (all competitions):
Five clean sheets in a row. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/ucE2UxYVMl
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 15, 2020
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 7/10
Kept busy at the back by the visitors, but did not miss a step, nullifying the threat of the dangerous Adama Traore, while he offered a decent outlet going forward as well, impressing with some of his dribbles. Needs to work on his final delivery though.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Started off slugglishly as his distribution from the back wasn’t accurate, while he had his problem when Wolves charged at him. Did improve as the game wore on though, but Lindelof and his defensive partner need to do better at the weekend when they face a ruthless Liverpool outfit.
Harry Maguire: 6/10
The world’s most expensive defender had his hands full going up against the lively Raul Jimenez. Was handed a reprieve by the handball rule for Wolves’ cancelled goal and didn’t always look convincing, but did enough to secure a clean sheet on the night.
Brandon Williams: 8/10
Another fine performance from the young full-back, who is growing in stature with every passing game. Had a battle at his hands against Pedro Neto and later Adama Traore, and came out on top in both contests. Williams did not offer a lot in the attacking sense like usual, but defensively he was aggressive and strong in challenges, while showing great positional sense to thwart danger.
Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in six of the last seven matches Williams has featured in across all competitions.
Brandon Williams’ game by numbers vs. Wolves:
100% successful take-ons
86% pass accuracy
20 final third passes
1 chance created
0 x dribbled past
0 goals conceded
Growing with every game. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/P65a317YzV
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) January 15, 2020
It was a mixed bag of a performance for the Brazilian midfielder, who showed his quality with some nice defence-splitting passes forward, while working tirelessly to help out his defence. However, Fred found it difficult to contain the Wolves’ midfield unit and it was his poor pass that led to their goal in the first half and he was lucky VAR ruled it out.
Nemanja Matic: 4/10
There were some nice forward passes and a few strong tackles sprayed over the ninety minutes, but, Matic, for most of the game, was slow and ponderous. Found it hard to contain the Wolves’ midfield duo of Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves, while there were quite a few passes that went astray when he was on the ball. Manchester United need an upgrade in the position and fast.
Mason Greenwood: 4/10
A rare off night for the Manchester United academy product, who never really got into the game against Wolves. Apart from a neat layoff for Martial in the first period, Greenwood did little of note and was anonymous for most of his time on the field, although he wasn’t helped by the lack of service from his teammates. Subbed off a little after the hour mark.
Juan Mata: 8/10
For the second game in a row, the Spanish playmaker was Manchester United’s best player on the field. Everything positive that the 20-time English champions conjured up in the final third went through Mata and he capped off a fine display with a brilliant goal, timing his run perfectly before showing great composure to chip the ball over Ruddy and into the back of the net.
Daniel James: 5/10
The Welsh winger, back into the side, after being left out for the Norwich game, had a couple of promising goalscoring opportunities early in the game but failed to make them count. Had another great chance in the second period, which he once again did not take. Made good runs in behind, but the end product wasn’t quite there.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
Got the assist for the only goal of the game with a perfectly weighted pass for Mata after beating Conor Coady with a great turn. Had endured a quiet night until then though, as he lacked the usual sharpness in his link-up play.
Marcus Rashford: N/A
Came on to replace James in the 64th minute. Added more thrust to Manchester United’s forward play, but had to be taken off with a back injury soon after. This will be a major cause of concern for the manager and the supporters.
Andreas Pereira: N/A
Replaced the ineffective Greenwood, but struggled to make any sort of impact.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
Late substitute for the injured Rashford.