Manchester United’s FA Cup campaign started in underwhelming fashion as they drew 0-0 with Wolves in a dire third-round meeting at Molineux.
In a repeat of last season’s quarter-final – which finished 2-1 to Wolves – the encounter did not come alive until Marcus Rashford hit the crossbar moments after coming on in the second half.
Sergio Romero has been the busiest of the goalkeepers prior to Rashford’s chance, though United believed they should have had a penalty when Leander Dendoncker bundled into Brandon Williams.
Having been let off the hook when Rashford’s effort hit the woodwork, Wolves upped the pressure late on but, though Matt Doherty had a goal rightly disallowed and Raul Jimenez hit the woodwork, the tie will have to be settled in a replay at Old Trafford.
United were fortunate to escape unscathed 13 minutes in when Doherty was found unmarked from a corner, Romero’s instinctive save keeping out the defender’s volley.
Wolves, however, were themselves lucky just after the half-hour mark, with VAR official Michael Oliver deeming a clumsy tackle from Dendoncker on Williams not worthy of a penalty.
United looked set to be dealt a blow when Romero went down with an apparent hamstring injury shortly after the restart, though the goalkeeper battled on and was in place to block Pedro Neto’s strike.
After Juan Mata went close with a free-kick, Rashford almost made an instant impact when introduced with 20 minutes remaining, only for Conor Coady to deflect his strike onto the bar.
Doherty had the ball in the net in the 76th minute, only for the goal to be disallowed due to the full-back heading the ball onto his arm, with Jimenez then rattling the woodwork from a tight angle to sum up a frustrating day for both sides in which United failed to muster a single shot on target.
What does it mean? More fixture congestion for United
United face Manchester City in the EFL Cup on Tuesday, before hosting Norwich City on Saturday. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side then face Liverpool at Anfield on January 19, and that fixture will now follow what will have been an unwanted replay as the games continue to come thick and fast.
Neto making his case for Wolves
Former Braga youngster Neto has made just three Premier League starts this season but did open his top-flight account against Watford on New Year’s Day and was a constant threat to United’s defence throughout Saturday’s encounter.
VAR frustration comes to the fore in the cup
The use of VAR in the Premier League has been a huge talking point this season, and the video review system was again at the centre of a contentious moment when Oliver deemed Dendoncker’s rash tackle unworthy of a foul, despite the Belgium international clearly making contact with Williams.
Key Opta Facts
– Manchester United failed to have a single shot on target in this match, the second time they have done so in all competitions this season (also vs AZ in the Europa League).
– Wolves are unbeaten in their past five matches against United in all competitions (W2 D3), their longest such streak against the Red Devils since a run of six between 1959-1962.
– United failed to score for the first time in 14 meetings with Wolves in all competitions, since losing 0-1 in a Premier League match in January 2004.
– The Red Devils have been taken to an FA Cup third-round replay for the first time since 2012-13, when they eliminated West Ham at Old Trafford.
– Wolves’ Roman Saiss picked up his 11th card in all competitions this season (10 yellow, one red), more than any other Premier League player this term.
Local rivals City are up next for United, who face Pep Guardiola’s side at Old Trafford in the first leg of the EFL Cup semi-final. Wolves, meanwhile, are in Premier League action against Newcastle United on Saturday.
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