Wolves 0 Manchester United 0
Wolves ended their two-match losing run but were unable to reproduce last season’s FA Cup magic against Manchester United, meaning an unwanted third-round replay at Old Trafford.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s side were the more likely scorers as they were again left cursing VAR, after Matt Doherty had a second-half effort ruled out after he headed on to his hand, while Raul Jimenez hit the bar.
But United hit the woodwork as well after sub Marcus Rashford’s shot deflected off the sliding Conor Coady.
Wolves were their own worst enemies in the first half when they were wasteful in possession and invited pressure, but they recovered well and United couldn’t punish them.
But Wolves improved after the break and took the game to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, at times camped in their half without finding a breakthrough to record their first Molineux blank in 11 games in all competitions going back to the 1-0 defeat against Braga on September 19.
The big news from the Wolves camp before the game was Patrick Cutrone’s absence from the matchday squad, which handed a full debut to academy graduate Benny Ashley-Seal.
It emerged that the striker has returned to Italy to secure a loan with a view to a permanent move back to his homeland this month with an un-named club.
Clearly things have moved on in the last 24 hours since Nuno’s press conference when he said the Italy Under-21 international had a chance of playing in this tie.
Ashley-Seal for Jimenez was one of five changes Nuno made from the 2-1 defeat at New Year’s Day.
John Ruddy, Max Kilman, Ruben Neves, Ruben Vinagre replaced Rui Patricio, Ryan Bennett, Joao Moutinho and Jonny Castro Otto in the other changes.
Ashley-Seal had the first opening for Wolves after emerging with the ball deep in his own half before robbing Victor Lindelof andf racing goalwards only to run into Harry Maguire, the ball running behind.
United responded with a shot from Mason Greenwood that flew high and wide.
But Wolves had two chances in as many minutes to take the lead from corners.
Romain Saiss glanced across the face of goal and wide, then Matt Doherty was denied by a superb one-handed save by Sergio Romero after Leander Dendoncker nodded on Pedro Neto’s corner.
United thought they had a claim for a penalty in the 31st minute for a collision between Dendoncker and left back Brandon Williams left the latter sprawling after the Wolves man seemed to twist and momentarily lose his footing.
The video referee was called but it ruled no foul, with replays from different angles looking inconclusive.
Neves tried his luck from 30 yards but his fierce drive flashed narrowly over the bar after Adama Traore’s cross from a corner had been partly cleared.
Wolves were makers of their own undoing when a pass from Neto to Ashley-Seal was intercepted and United worked the ball well around the box for Daniel James to drag a shot wide.
Nuno’s side stepped it up following the restart and Neto was first to try his luck, sending a left-foot shot too close to Romero.
Saiss was booked in the 57th minute for hacking down Tahith Chong in full flight as he took on Vinagre.
The resulting free kick from Juan Mata whistled desperately close to the woodwork before swerving just wide with Ruddy rooted to his line.
Wolves responded with a half chance for Vinagre at the far post after Doherty flicked on Traore’s cross, but the wing back sliced into the South Bank.
An effort from Greenwood at the other end went the same way after Maguire dispossessed Doherty and raced upfield.
Rashford replaced James in the 70th minute and made an immediate impact. A loose ball broke to the England striker when he was unmarked, leaving him clean through on with only Ruddy to beat, only for Conor Coady to make a superb block which diverted his shot onto the top of the bar and over.
Kilman became the second player to be booked for a foul on Chong before Wolves’ best chance was ruled out by VAR for handball against Doherty after his header from Neto’s cross flew into the net in the 77th minute.
Wolves went close again four minutes later when substitute Jimenez lashed a thunderous shot against the bar from a ridiculous angle after racing from halfway with no support.
The home side were building up a heas of steam going for the winner and fellow sub Joao Moutinho drove just wide.
At the other end, Neves made a superb tackle on Greenwood to nick the ball as he prepared to shoot.
United had the final chance deep into the six minutes of time added when substitute Diogo Dalot’s low shot hit the heels of Greenwood and flew well wide.
A draw seemed slightly harsh on Wolves as both sides will have to do it all again at Old Trafford the week after next.
Wolves (3-4-3): Ruddy; Dendoncker, Coady (c), Kilman; Doherty, Neves, Saiss (Moutinho 71), Vinagre (Jonny 75); Traore, Ashley-Seal (Jimenez HT), Neto.
Subs not used: Patricio, Bennett, Otasowie, Buur.
Booked: Saiss, Kilman, Moutinho.
United (4-4-2): Romero; Young (c), Lindelof, Maguire, Williams; Chong , Pereira, Matic, James (Rashford 70); Mata (Fred 70), Greenwood.
Subs not used: Grant, Jones, Gomes, Wan-Bissaka.
Referee: Paul Tierney.