Manchester United battled their way to a thrilling 4-3 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium on Thursday night.
United got the match off to an energetic start, showing a strong passing game all over the field while also playing some threatening balls upfield.
Just three minutes in, however, Casemiro lost his composure, making a reckless challenge that earned him an unnecessary yellow card. He would have to be on high alert when making tackles for the rest of the match.
In the fifth minute, Marcus Rashford put United in front when he took a first-time shot from outside the box. Following a week of controversy, this goal was exactly the kind of start that Rashford needed to get off to, not to mention the team as a whole.
While Wolves attempted to generate a response against United, Erik ten Hag’s team managed to constrain them, with Lisandro Martinez dispossessing Pedro Neto in the box to win a goal kick for United.
10 minutes in, United were on the attack yet again, with Bruno Fernandes passing the ball back to Casemiro, who attempted a long-range effort that veered past the post.
On another Wolves attack, Pedro Neto outpaced Luke Shaw on the right flank, however, Shaw compensated by deflecting the attempted cross out for a corner which was dealt with as well.
Following a frustrating period for the home side in which they were unable to get a sight on goal, Matheus Cunha decided to release a shot from outside the box that Andre Onana managed to comfortably catch.
23 minutes in, United struck again when Rashford slotted a through ball to Shaw on the left of Wolves’ penalty box. Shaw was able to pick out Rasmus Hojlund, who managed to find the back of the net for the third Premier League match in a row.
Less than five minutes later, United almost got a third goal as Casemiro’s header off a Fernandes’ free kick caught the Wolves defence off guard, only to veer just wide of the post.
While United gave away a free kick in their final third moments later, Tommy Doyle’s well-struck shot was impressively held onto by Onana.
In the 30th minute, Hojlund showed great awareness as he tracked forward and blocked a clearance from goalkeeper Jose Sa. The deflection skimmed just wide, showing how dangerous the 20 year old striker can be when given the chance.
Following a corner, Raphael Varane got a sporadic shot on goal, with his ball beating the keeper but floating over the top.
On the stroke of half-time, Hojlund got on the end of a through ball and slotted a shot into the back of the net. Unfortunately for him, VAR adjudged the goal to be offside.
After being awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, United were denied a goal yet again by VAR due to an offside call. This time, Fernandes’ cross met the head of Casemiro, who impressively struck the ball into the back of the net.
Ultimately, it would remain 2-0 as the players made their way down the tunnel for half-time.
In what has been a rare occurrence this season, United were oozing in confidence, producing an impressive attacking display. Erik ten Hag would need to ensure that his players did not lose their composure as they looked to seal the win in the second half.
Straight off the restart, United looked to extend their lead, with Fernandes taking a hard close-range shot that was saved by the keeper.
Moments later, Wolves were on the counter when Lisandro Martinez was booked after taking down Nelson Sememdo from behind. The subsequent free kick was almost lethal, as Wolves came the closest to scoring that they had all game. Onana made the mistake of coming out to collect the ball, however, he was fortunate that Martinez managed to clear the subsequent header off the line to maintain United’s two-goal cushion.
54 minutes in, Casemiro got on the end of another Fernandes cross, with the keeper saving it. Just seconds later, Hojlund was in on goal taking a thunderous shot that Sa was forced to keep out with a leg save.
Yet again, Wolves raced off on a sporadic counter-attack, with Craig Dawson thumping the ball into Onana’s face. While the ball remained in play, United were fortunate that the deflection was off target, otherwise, it may have entered an open goal.
The home side continued to press for a goal, however, United’s defence held steady, with Hojlund even dispossessing the Wolves’ goalkeeper up top before slipping.
With just over 20 minutes to play, United conceded a penalty as Casemiro was adjudged to clip his opponent’s heel from behind. Pablo Sarabia scored the penalty to halve United’s lead.
In an effort to change up United’s game, Ten Hag took off Rashford for Antony while bringing on Scott McTominay for Casemiro, who was already on a booking.
Minutes later, both Fernandes and Mainoo took long-range efforts, with the latter’s shot being deflected out for a corner. Fernandes’ corner kick found its target, with McTominay heading in United’s third just two minutes after coming on.
With five minutes left of normal time, United conceded again as Max Kilman’s shot breezed past Onana, putting pressure back on United.
Harry Maguire came on to replace Martinez, while Omari Forson replaced Hojlund.
In the 87th minute, Wolves came within inches of equalising as Mario Lemina’s shot went inches wide before he was whistled for offside. United launched a rapid counter-attack, with Antony getting on the end of a threatening ball only to be tackled from behind by Cunha, who received a yellow card while handing United a free kick just outside the box.
Just before the free kick could be taken, nine minutes of stoppage time were announced, giving United a long period of time in which to maintain their concentration. While Fernandes’ shot hit the wall, United won a throw-in high up the field.
Jonny Evans came on as Ten Hag’s final substitute, replacing Garnacho.
Shaw sent a threatening cross into Evans, who accidentally chested the ball to McTominay. While McTominay was in a threatening position, his shot was saved by Sa, before disaster struck.
United’s defenders were caught off guard by a blistering Wolves’ counter, with Pedro Neto easily slotting the ball past Onana to hand the home side an equalizer with just four minutes of stoppage time remaining.
Then, out of the blue, United were back in it, with Mainoo cutting into the box and firing the ball into the far corner in a piece of individual brilliance.
While United’s defensive consistency clearly needs to be worked on, the team produced an entertaining attacking display that they’ll clearly want to take forward as they enter the business end of the season.
Starting XI: Onana, Martinez, Fernandes, Rashford, Hojlund, Garnacho, Casemiro, Varane, Dalot, Shaw, Mainoo
Subs: Antony, McTominay, Maguire, Forson, Evans