MANCHESTER-Wolverhampton Wanderers repeated their FA Cup defeat of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United as a Chris Smalling own goal gave them another 2-1 win in a pulsating Premier League game on Tuesday.

Despite the distraction of next week’s Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona, Manchester United, who finished the game with 10 men after Ashley Young was sent off in the second half, came out strongly for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s second game as permanent manager.

Scott McTominay’s low strike from 22 yards - his first goal for United - put them ahead after 13 minutes but the hosts equalised 12 minutes later as Diogo Jota coolly finished from a Raul Jimenez pass. The visitors had captain Ashley Young sent off in the 57th minute for two yellow-card offences after he twice fouled Jota in a five-minute spell.

Wolves took advantage as they scored a scrappy second goal when David de Gea failed to collect the ball and it ricocheted off United defender Chris Smalling and into the net to give the hosts the win. The defeat was the first under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since he was given the United manager’s job on a full-time basis and left them fifth in the Premier League.

United are level on points with fourth-placed Tottenham and two points behind Arsenal in third, but have now played a game more than both London clubs. Wolves beat United 2-1 in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on 16 March, but Solskjaer will be wondering how they managed to throw away three points here.

The visitors nearly scored within 30 seconds of the start as Jesse Lingard immediately ran at the Wolves defence and was denied by Rui Patricio. The Wolves goalkeeper also did well to keep out Romelu Lukaku’s close-range header, but was powerless to stop McTominay’s fine strike, although the goalkeeper then did make an excellent save to deny Lingard.

Wolves’ equaliser came after Fred was caught in possession 30 yards from his own goal after a pass out from De Gea, before Young was sent off for a reckless sliding challenge when he was already on a booking, catching Jota halfway up his shin.

Solskjaer will also be furious with Wolves’ winning goal as there seemed to be little danger when Jimenez challenged Phil Jones for a header, but De Gea could not collect the ball cleanly, with it then bouncing off Smalling and creeping over the line.

Meanwhile, Fulham have been relegated from the Premier League with five games still to play after being hammered by Watford 4-1 at Vicarage Road. The Cottagers needed to avoid defeat to put off their inevitable demotion for another week and were level at half-time, Ryan Babel having equalised after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s stunning opener for the Hornets. However, second-half goals from Will Hughes, Troy Deeney and Kiko Femenia condemned them to an immediate return to the Championship.

Fulham spent more than £100m on 12 new players last summer but the quality has been lacking all season. Their players looked dejected as the final whistle confirmed they will be playing Championship football alongside Huddersfield next season, making 2 April the earliest date two clubs have been relegated from the Premier League. Fulham had lost their previous eight Premier League games and, with just two points away from home all season, a visit to high-flying Watford always seemed to be a tall order.

 

 

 

Caretaker manager Scott Parker has overseen five defeats since replacing Claudio Ranieri and now relegation is confirmed, it is clear a significant rebuilding job will be required. The Cottagers impressed in the Championship last year, coming up through the play-offs, and were tipped by many to make a positive impact in the Premier League. However, it has turned into a nightmare with two managers sacked and 76 goals conceded so far - 17 more than Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City and Burnley.

Fulham had, briefly, looked like delaying the drop, when Babel rounded Ben Foster to coolly equalise from Ryan Sessegnon’s clever pass 12 minutes before half-time. Babel, Sessegnon and Aleksandar Mitrovic all had chances to put the Cottagers ahead in a dangerous spell after that but the break halted their momentum and they fell apart in the second half. Parker will hope that they can restore pride in their final five games before another hard season in the Championship.