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Manchester United 1 - 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers


Manchester United opened their Premier League campaign with a lacklustre win over a fiery Wolves side at Old Trafford.

The recent departure of Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui implied that the west-midlands side would struggle in their opening game, however Gary O'Neil's team overpowered Manchester United for large parts of the season opener.

The first half proved very frustrating for the home side, with Wolves providing the greater attacking threat. Matheus Cunha, who was a constant threat through the midfield, evaded challenges from Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez to play in Pablo Sarabia on his left, whose deflected strike rolled just wide of André Onana's goal. Minutes later, Cunha dragged another promising chance just wide, as Wolves continued to fly forward whenever the opportunity arose.

As for United, chances were limited, with much of their play appearing disjointed and lacking in any real sense of cohesion. The most notable feature of the first period was the positional swap of Luke Shaw and Lisandro Martínez, with Shaw operating in a low-lying midfield slot for much of the first half. Frontmen Alejandro Garnacho and Marcus Rashford struggled to influence, while gaps were often left for Wolves midfielders Mario Lemina and João Gomes to exploit. It was perhaps a fitting marker of the performance when Lisandro Martínez, who has quickly become a fan favourite at Old Trafford, was replaced at half time by Victor Lindelof after picking up a yellow card.

In the second half, chances were somewhat evenly created. Frustration began to seep through the stands as the home team became increasingly passive and unwilling to move with incisiveness. United attempted to haul the ball forward in seek of a golden goal, with the breakthrough coming after Rafaël Varane nodded home Aaron Wan-Bissaka's cross in front of the Stretford End. Wolves will feel the result was far from an accurate reflection of the match, as debutant Onana was called into action a number of times towards the end, standing firm to give United an opening day win.

There was however a plausible penalty appeal for Wolves late into stoppage time. Craig Dawson was taken down by Onana who attempted to claim an aerial ball, and in truth the Cameroonian was fortunate not to have conceded his team a penalty.

Wolves dominate midfield battle

United started the game with Casemiro at the base of a midfield three alongside Mason Mount and Bruno Fernandes. On Sky Sports' Monday Night Football coverage, Gary Neville claimed that the trio were "ripped apart by Wolves." Casemiro in particular looked completely helpless in his attempts to control the explosive runs from Cunha and Lemina. He struggled to intercept balls near to him, and also struggled to match the pace of the game.

Mason Mount was signed from Chelsea earlier in the summer, the expectation being that he could add an extra dynamic to what Christian Eriksen offered in a similar position. The Englishman's performance was limited in pristine quality, but his efforts in closing down were clear to see. Understandably, it will take a short while for him to settle into the team, and from then his performances can be fairly judged.

Bruno Fernandes, while frustrating, provided perhaps the most helpful display for United's forward line, playing a key part in the lone goal when he played Wan-Bissaka through down the right side. United were completely overhauled by the spectacular Matheus Cunha for Wolves, who carried the ball fearlessly to set up a constant string of attacks for his side. His counterparts Lemina and Gomes also outplayed United's midfield on many occasions.

What's next?

United will travel to London next Saturday evening to take on Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

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