Man United needs late goal by Raphael Varane to beat dominant Wolves 1-0 in Premier League opener
- United Kingdom
Manchester United needed a rare goal from defender Raphael Varane and a slew of late saves from Andre Onana to eke out a 1-0 win over Wolverhampton after being outplayed for long periods of their Premier League opener.
The former France center back headed home from point-blank range in the 76th minute after Aaron Wan Bissaka ran onto a lofted pass from Bruno Fernandes and lobbed a cross into the six-yard box on Monday.
It was one of the few slick moves produced by United, which gave competitive debuts to Onana and midfielder Mason Mount and failed to look cohesive against a visiting team that dominated midfield and was a constant danger on the break.
Wolves struck the post through Matheus Cunha early in the second half, while substitute Fabio Silva drew two saves from the feet of Onana in the closing stages as United hung on. Wolves had 23 shots — the most by a visiting team at Old Trafford in the Premier League since 2005 — but lacked a cutting edge just like last season, when it was the lowest scorer in the league with 31 goals. Onana had a worrying moment deep into stoppage time when he appeared to clatter into Wolves substitute Sasa Kalajdzic in an aerial collision.
The incident was reviewed by video but no penalty was given, much to the annoyance of Wolves manager Gary O'Neil, who was shown a yellow card in the technical area to mark his first match in charge after being hired last week.
“It looked like their goalkeeper almost took his head off,” O'Neil said. ''I'm not overly surprised we didn't get it, to be honest. He booked me rather than Onana for smashing into my forward.” Onana otherwise had an impressive debut, making six saves in total and showing the kind of coolness under pressure and distribution skills that convinced United to buy him for $57 million from Inter Milan.
On the other hand, Mount, who joined from Chelsea, lasted 68 minutes before being substituted after an ineffective display in a midfield three with Fernandes and Casemiro that was overrun throughout.
Fernandes, United's newly appointed captain, said his team struggled to adapt to the tactics of Wolves — which flooded the central areas of midfield and sprang forward at pace — and was too rushed on the ball.
United kept 17 clean sheets last season, more than any other team in the league, and has somehow started this campaign with another.
“We had a great fighting spirit,” Fernandes said. “Sometimes you just have to find a way to win the game.”
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