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Manchester United 1-0 Wolves: Juan Mata goal sends hosts through

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Manchester United 1-0 Wolves: Juan Mata finishes off swift counter-attack to send hosts into FA Cup fourth-round... but win is marred by Rashford injuryThe away side had an early Pedro Neto goal ruled out by VAR after Raul Jimenez handballed in the build-up It was a let off for Manchester United after Fred cleared into his own player to allow Wolves through on goalThe Red Devils broke Wolves' resistance in the second half when Juan Mata finished off a swift counter attackThe narrow victory over their fellow Premier League side was marred by an injury to forward Marcus Rashford Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team will play the winner of Watford or Tranmere in the next round of the competition Advertisement

 It is Juan Mata's misfortune that his years at Manchester United have coincided with a period of such mediocrity at a club that won its most recent Premier League only six months or so before he joined in January 2014.

The Spaniard may lack some of the physicality so commonly found in the league's best players but remains capable of decorating a game. Here, it was Mata's cute second half goal that saw off Wolves at Old Trafford.

This was not a great game. It was somewhat better than the scoreless draw at Molineux that brought us here but it was no classic. Maybe the many thousands who left seats empty in the stadium, had sensed as much.

Juan Mata looks delighted as he wheels away with substitute Marcus Rashford after breaking the deadlock against Wolves

Spanish midfielder Juan Mata showed great composure to clip the ball over John Ruddy as he scored the only goal of the tie

A fast Manchester United counter attack saw the team race up the pitch, with Mata bursting clear to dink the ball home

MATCH FACTS 

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): Romero 7; Wan-Bissaka 6, Maguire 6, Lindelof 6, Williams 7; Matic 6, Fred 7; James 7.5 (Rashford 6, 63min; Lingard 79), Mata 7, Greenwood 6 (Pereira 6, 63); Martial 7

Subs not used: Jones, Grant, Dalot, Chong

Booked: Maguire, Fred

Goalscorers: Mata 67

Manager: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer 7 

WOLVES (3-4-3): Ruddy 8; Saiss 6, Coady 6, Dendoncker 6; Doherty 6, Moutinho 6, Neves 7, Jonny 6 (Vinagre 6, 75); Traore 7 (Buur 88), Jimenez 7, Neto 6 (Gibbs-White 6, 71)

Subs not used: Bennett, Rui Patricio, Kilman, Ashley-Seal

Booked: Dendoncker, Neto 

Referee: Kevin Friend 6

Attendance: 67,025 

Mata's goal was worth watching, though. Released by Anthony Martial, Mata raced away from a Wolves defence that shown a propensity for being caught square all night. Previously they had been rescued by their goalkeeper John Ruddy but not on this occasion.

Mata is 31 now and was never the quickest. But here it was composure rather than speed that the former Chelsea player needed and he has rarely been short of that.

His dinked finished over the previously unbeatable Ruddy was terrific and United were through to the next round of a competition that could yet feasibly save their mediocre season.

The only concern for United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the sight of Marcus Rashford leaving the field injured only 15 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

United face Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday and will need Rashford. With Harry Kane out with an injured hamstring, England manager Gareth Southgate will also wait anxiously for news on another forward who will carry such a large portion of the national team's load at this summer's European Championships.

'Bringing him on backfired,' said Solskjaer afterwards and that was something of an understatement.

For their part, Wolves had come to win and fielded a strong side in their efforts to do so. Nuno Espirito Santo's team reached the semi-final of this competition last season. They were competitive here and things did not go their way in key moments during a first half that saw them dangerous on occasion.

Wolves winger Pedro Neto thought he had opened the scoring for Wolves after a defensive mix-up but it was ruled out by VAR

The goal was ruled out after it was adjudged that Raul Jimenez had handled the ball in the build up after a failed clearance

But too often the final ball was rued by Nuno and in the second period it was hard to recall them making a clear chance.

So they will be disappointed while United will take heart from a result and a performance that was better than many witnessed in this part of Manchester this season.

Early on, they looked a little vulnerable at the back and showed a tendency to lose the ball carelessly. It may have cost them had Wolves carried a little more fortune and composure.

Brazilian midfielder Fred has a effort on goal as Manchester United attempt to break down the plucky visiting team 

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deliberates with assistant Michael Carrick with the two teams still level pegging

United had actually been first to threaten, Daniel James being denied by Ruddy as he ran on to a pass over the top from Mata. But within five minutes, Wolves should have been ahead. Adama Traore made progress far too easily down the Wolves left and when he crossed low, Raul Jiminez sold three United players a dummy to leave himself with the whole of the goal to aim at from virtually the penalty spot. Unfortunately for him, he chose the bit with United keeper Sergio Romero standing in it and his shot was saved with surprising ease.

If that served as a warning for United, it was not heeded. Two minutes later, Fred slammed the ball against his own team-mate Nemanja Matic in centre field and when Jiminez won a tussle with Harry Maguire, Pedro Neto was able to collect possession and score.

It seemed a fair goal and from a United point of view a dismal one. But a VAR review showed the ball bouncing up off United's Maguire to strike Jiminez on the arm and the goal was rightly disallowed.

The Red Devils continued their search for the opening goal at Old Trafford and Anthony Martial tested the gloves of Ruddy

United were sketchy but despite this were reasonably dangerous when they had the ball themselves. Ruddy saved twice – high from Anthony Martial and low from Mata – before James was foiled by the goalkeeper after darting clear again.

By then Wolves had come devilishly again, Matt Doherty planting a header against the post. The linesman's flag went up but it was not clear whether that was against Doherty or the clearly offside Jiminez who sought to follow up.

Anybody's game at half-time, United were the better team thereafter. Wolves were dangerous on the break but the home team were more consistently threatening. By the time Mata scored, James had already whipped a low shot inches wide.

At full-time Mata declared 'the good times are back' and while that was indicative only of how far standards have slipped in Stretford, this is a competition that United may yet have a significant say in.

Manchester United staff and supporters will be concerned after Marcus Rashford suffered an injury after coming on as a sub

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