A young Manchester United side triumphed 2-1 away at Wolverhampton Wanderers in Sunday’s final game of the Premier League season. With the Europa League final just days away, Ole Gunnar Solskjær took no risks with his team selection, and was rewarded for his faith in United’s academy players with a first goal from Swedish striker Anthony Elanga. Juan Mata netted United’s second from the penalty spot in stoppage time at the end of the first half, quickly cancelling out a Wolves equaliser.
Elanga made a bright start to only his second Premier League appearance, and had a couple of chances inside the opening 10 minutes. A superb penetrating run was picked out by a deep Alex Telles cross, though Elanga’s first touch was poor and smothered by Rui Patrício. A couple of minutes later, the teenage striker did well to buy himself shooting space in the Wolves box, but smashed wildly over the crossbar.
It turned out to be third time lucky for Elanga, who opened the scoring with less than 15 minutes on the clock. Dan James’ teasing cross from the left landed square on the Swede’s forehead, leaving Rui Patrício with no chance of making a save. It was a goal satisfying in its simplicity, and United will be hoping that they’ve produced another star striker.
For the most part, the first half was an even affair, bogged down in midfield with neither side dominating. Five minutes before halftime, Wolves equalised. A fine pass from Leander Dendoncker found Fábio Silva in the right-hand channel, and his square ball was slid home by Nélson Semedo amid an almighty scrap in the United box.
Controversy marred United’s second goal immediately before halftime, which came as centre-half Romain Saïss caught Donny van de Beek in the Wolves box. The Dutchman certainly exaggerated his fall, and initially referee Mike Dean didn’t award a penalty, but after a VAR review Dean reversed his decision and pointed to the spot. Juan Mata stepped up to convert with characteristic cool — his first Premier League goal in over two years, on possibly his last appearance in a United shirt.
Wolves made a strong start to the second half, and peppered United’s goal with shots. However, the first clear-cut chance of the restart fell to the visitors, when Amad played an inch-perfect through ball for James. The Welsh international should’ve converted the one-on-one, but his delicate chip was too cute, and went wide of Wolves’ far post.
The hosts hit back with a couple of chances of their own, but some impressive last-ditch defending protected United’s slender advantage. Solskjær threw even more academy players into the mix late in the second half, with Shola Shoretire, Hannibal Mejbri and Will Fish handed their second, first and first Premier League appearances respectively. They coped well on the big stage, and United hung on to end the Premier League season with a win.