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Magnificent Wolves beat United to reach FA Cup semi-final

Wolves 2 Manchester United 1

Wolves put a rocket up Manchester United to match the pre-match pyrotechnics and send them out of the FA Cup with all the fire of a soggy Catherine Wheel.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s team were imperious to a man as they deservedly took United apart in the second half, scoring twice in seven minutes through Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota.

Marcus Rashford’s injury-time consolation flattered a poor United, who that apart failed to create a worthwhile chance.

Wolves have earned their first Wembley cup appearance for 31 years and are into a semi-final for the first time in 21 years.

And after knocking Liverpool and now United out of the Cup, they will now be regarded as one of the favourites as they seek to lift the trophy for the firs time since 1960.

The pre-match build-up certainly gave the platform for the underdog to triumph, with a lights and fireworks display to put small cities’ New Year celebrations to shame to have an already pumped-up, sell-out Molineux rocking.

After 10 minutes United had had 84 per cent of the play, but by half-time, Wolves should have been ahead after working themselves into the game only for Jota to be denied by goalkeeper Sergio Romero in a one-one-one.

United created the first chance when Paul Pogba gained a yard of space in the box and curled wide.

Goalkeeper John Ruddy was happy to let the ball drift away but was forced to make a falling save to his left soon afterwards when Marcus Rashford let fly from 30 yards.

Wolves’ first threat came in the 28th minute when Ruben Neves’s low drive was well held by Romero and it was swiftly followed by a better one, Jota failing to connect properly with a volley from Matt Doherty’s centre.

United players surrounded referee Martin Atkinson screaming for a penalty in the 37th minute after Diogo Dalot’s hooked shot hit the elbow of Jonny as he turned his back on the ball. But Atkinson was unmoved.

The best chance of the half fell to Wolves, two minutes before the break. Neves sent Jota galloping clear for a one-on-one with Romero, but the United goalkeeper beat his curling shot away.

Jota, who had arguably the best game of his Wolves career, was soon put in on goal again, this time by Joao Moutinho, but his low effort was blocked by Ander Herrera sliding in.

United had the first opening of the second half when Rashford got away from Conor Coady on the right side of the box, but could only whistle a fierce angled drive a few feet wide.

Wolves replied with a rising, diagonal effort from Jimenez that looped comfortably over the bar.

Nuno’s side were gaining in confidence however and created two chances that required some superb goalkeeping from Romero.

First he reacted superbly to tip over a bullet header from Jimenez from Moutinho’s corner.

The Argentinian keeper then palmed over a rising chip from Moutinho from 25 yards as Wolves got on top.

Wolves scored the goal they had been threatening in the 70th minute.

The chance seemed to be lost when Jimenez was forced backwards with his back to goal after being crowded out following a superb run by Moutinho who breezed through three challenges cutting in from the left.

But the Mexican swivelled 180 degrees, after getting a lucky bounce off Pogba and drilled a low shot past Romero.

Seven minutes later Wolves were in dreamland as they doubled their lead.

Neves sent Jota racing clear on the counter as Wolves broke on a United attack and the Portuguese left Luke Shaw in a heap before firing an unstoppable left-foot drive inside Romero’s near post.

High drama followed when Atkinson showed Victor Lindelof a red card for lunging in on Jota in front of the Wolves dugout.

But he was saved by VAR, which deemed it a booking, allowing the Swedish defender a reprieve.

Rashford pulled one back with a shot on the turn in the fifth minute of the five added on, but it was too little, too late.

 

Wolves (3-4-3): Ruddy; Saiss, Coady, Boly; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves, Moutinho, Jonny; Jimenez, Jota (Traore 87).

Subs: Norris, Bennett, Cavaleiro, Costa, Gibbs-White, Vinagre.

Booked: Boly (41, foul), Neves (43, foul), Coady (86, foul).

United (4-3-3): Romero; Dalot, Lindelof, Smalling, Shaw; Matic (Mata 87), Herrera, Pogba; Lingard, Rashford, Martial.

Subs: De Gea, Jones, Rojo, Fred, McTominay.

Booked: Matic (45+1, foul), Lindelof (86, foul).

Referee: Martin Atkinson.

Attendance: 31,004 (4,685 United fans).