Wolverhampton Wanderers are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup after beating Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday. Second-half goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota knocked out Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United, who had to settle for a late consolation from Marcus Rashford.
Molineux was served up a special night of football as Wolves put in a performance which will live long in the memory to seal a place in the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time in more than 20 years at the expense of 12-time victors Manchester United.
It was the reliable striking duo of Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota who got the second-half goals for Wolves as they booked their place at Wembley, despite a late consolation goal for United from the boot of Marcus Rashford.
An electric atmosphere greeted the teams out onto the pitch at Molineux with both the Wolves and United supporters in fine voice for the opening stages of the match.
Unfortunately for the sold-out crowd, neither team could carve an opportunity in the first ten minutes of the game as the defences stood strong in sustained spells of possession, with United having two long-range efforts which were comfortably dealt with by John Ruddy in the Wolves goal.
But Wolves grew into the first-half and had a chance from a corner following good work by Matt Doherty and Jimenez down the Wolves right. However, the short Joao Moutinho corner was not able to be headed goalwards by Romain Saiss at the back post and United were able to eventually clear the danger.
Roared on by lively support, Jimenez came close to opening the scoring with just under 20 minutes on the clock, but the Mexican couldn’t stretch his leg out far enough to get on the end of a cross from strike partner Jota.
Leander Dendoncker was quick to his defensive duties to stop United from taking the lead when he was able to get his body in the way to block an Anthony Martial shot from crossing the line from inside the penalty area.
It was then United’s turn to be aware at the back as Wolves broke quickly through Jota. His cross was cut out by Luke Shaw for a corner which Moutinho used to lay up to Ruben Neves on the edge of the box, but Sergio Romero was able to get down low to stop Neves’ driving effort. The keeper was then called into action again as Jota got on the end of a Doherty cross but couldn’t get the power needed to force the ball past Romero.
Both sides appealed for penalties during the first 45 minutes, with both waved away by referee Martin Atkinson. First, Willy Boly went down in the United area following a corner, and then United called for a spot kick when the ball hit Jonny’s arms in the box, but VAR decided neither should be punished.
Wolves had a huge chance to go in front just before half-time, as Jota was played in down the left by a delightful Neves pass after good work by the home side in the middle of the pitch. But after powering his way towards the United area, his curling effort was palmed away by Romero.
Half-time: Wolves 0 Man United 0
Unlike the first period, the second 45 minutes opened with goalmouth chances at both ends of the pitch, but it was Neves who had the first opportunity of the half, who tried his luck from 35-yards out but could not direct his powerful effort on target.
It then took a miraculous Romero save to stop Wolves from taking the lead. A Moutinho corner curled into the box landed perfectly onto the head of Jimenez who aimed his bullet effort on target, but the United keeper – at full stretch – somehow managed to claw the ball away from under his crossbar.
It was the home side who continued to attack, with Neves launching long-range efforts on Romero’s goal, but it was one of the midfielder’s crosses into the box which caused the most danger to United, curling just inches away from the outstretched Jota, who was racing in at the far post.
Not wanting to be outdone by his midfield colleague, just before the hour mark, Moutinho let fly from 20-yards out, but Romero was there to turn the ball – which was headed for the top right corner – around the post.
Wolves’ efforts were finally rewarded with 70 minutes on the clock. Moutinho does brilliantly to somehow wriggle through three United players and into the area where his cross found Jimenez. The striker’s initial effort was blocked, but Jimenez was quickest to react, striking a low driving effort on the turn into the back of the net – lifting the roof off Molineux.
It took United going behind before they showed signs of life in the second half as substitute Andreas Pereira took a shot from distance which flashed just wide of Ruddy’s right post.
The Molineux crowd were sent into dreamland with 15 minutes to go. Jota managed to keep hold out the ball as he raced through the United defence before the Portuguese striker took a shot from just inside the area which flew past the diving Romero and into the bottom corner of the net.
After doubling their advantage, Wolves were not happy to just sit back and rest on their laurels, the players were trying their hardest to get their third of the night, with Neves, once again, taking aim from distance as the United defence were pushing up.
VAR come into use inside the last 10 minutes of the match as Victor Lindelof chopped down Jota just in front of the dugout. After Atkinson initially showed the United defender a red card for the challenge, the sending off was rescinded, with the Swede instead getting a yellow card.
Wolves continued to put a gold and black wall in front of the goal as they caught United on the counter. Substitute Adama Traore was using his pace to great effect as he stretched the visiting defence, before launching a shot from just outside the area which flew wide.
United finally broke the Wolves defence late on in added time as Rashford turned and aimed a low drive past Ruddy, but it wasn’t enough for the Red Devils as Wolves held on to make a cup trip to Wembley for the first time since the Sherpa Van Trophy victory in 1988.
Full-time: Wolves 2 Man United 1
Wolves: Ruddy, Doherty, Saiss, Coady, Boly, Jonny, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jota (Traore 87), Jimenez (Costa 90). Unused subs: Patricio, Bennett, Vinagre, Gibbs-White, Cavaleiro.
Man United: Romero, Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw, Herrera (Pereira 71), Matic (Mata 86), Pogba, Lingard (McTominay 86), Rashford, Martial. Unused subs: De Gea, Jones, Rojo, Fred.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Image: Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Mexican striker Raul Jimenez (C) celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the FA Cup quarter-final football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on March 16, 2019.