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SPORTS

Elanga strikes as second-string Man United side beat Wolves

PREMIER LEAGUE By Reuters | May 23rd 2021
Manchester United's Anthony Elanga in action with Wolverhampton Wanderers' Rayan Ait-Nouri [Reuters, Andy Rain]

A makeshift Manchester United side ended their Premier League campaign on a high as 19-year-old forward Anthony Elanga scored his first goal for the club in a 2-1 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.

It was the last game for Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who is set to leave after four seasons in charge having guided the Midlands club back into the top flight in 2018 and then enjoyed two successive seventh-placed finishes.

The home fans gave Espirito Santo a standing ovation after the final whistle, with Wolves finishing 13th this term as they struggled to cope with injuries and the departure of some key players.

"I promised that I would stay strong but it was very special and very emotional," the Portuguese told BT Sport. "I will miss it. Now I want to rest."

With Champions League qualification secured for second-placed United and Wednesday's Europa League final against Spanish side Villarreal looming, their boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rested his regular starters.

Elanga made the most of the opportunity as he linked up with 18-year-old Amad Diallo up front and showed predatory instincts when he fired United ahead in the 13th minute.

The Swedish youngster netted in his second start for United with a thumping header from eight metres after Daniel James picked him out with a fine cross from the left.

Juan Mata celebrates scoring their second goal with Anthony Elanga [Reuters, Andrew Couldridge]

A flowing move allowed wing-back Nelson Semedo to draw Wolves level in the 39th minute, as he slid in to steer a fine cutback from Fabio Silva into the bottom right.

Juan Mata restored United's lead as he sent home keeper Rui Patricio the wrong way with a coolly taken penalty, given after a lengthy VAR check as Romain Saiss was adjudged to have stamped on Donny van de Beek's foot in the area.

Solskjaer praised his side's performance and for finishing the season with an unbeaten away record in the league but remained tight-lipped on whether United will offer 33-year-old midfielder Mata a new contract.

"Very happy, proud of them," he said. "They took the ball well, created chances and got the win they deserved. Very pleased for (Elanga) and he has a bright future ahead of him.

"Our home form hasn't been the greatest but what an achievement to go a season undefeated away.

"We are talking to Juan and it's a bit what he wants as well. I don't give him enough game time but he is such a professional and top quality. We will have a discussion."

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