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Rediff.com  » Sports » Solitary Wolves goal stuns Man Utd

Solitary Wolves goal stuns Man Utd

Last updated on: January 17, 2004 22:29 IST

It probably happens once in a lifetime, and maybe not even then. But it happened at Molineux today.

David beat Goliath.

In a stunning result, Wolverhampton Wanderers, the no-hopers of the English Premier League, who look a certainty for relegation and whom no one must have given a whisper of a chance, played above themselves and combined well to defeat champions and league leaders Manchester United, one of the world's great football clubs, by a solitary goal.

Going into the match, Manchester United held a point's advantage over their nearest rival Arsenal and five points over third-placed Chelsea, and manager Alex Ferguson was looking to extend that gap.

But the shock defeat, the biggest upset of the season and probably one of the great results in Premier League history, means Arsenal now have a chance tomorrow to take the lead and Chelsea can move to within striking distance of United.

Wolves' Scottish forward Kenny Miller scored the first Premier League goal of his career in the 67th minute to secure the amazing victory. The home side had come close to taking the lead soon after half-time when skipper and former Manchester United player Paul Ince curled a 25metre shot against the upright in the 49th minute.

But Miller went one better when he collected the ball outside the area. Defender Wes Brown, substituting for Rio Ferdinand, slipped as he attempted a tackle and was easily rounded, leaving Miller clear to steer a low shot past American goalkeeper Tim Howard who should have stopped it.

The rest of the Wolves, a side with the worst defensive record in the league -- they have conceded an average of two goals per game -- played like men possessed to hang on to the lead, with goalkeeper Michael Oakes bringing off some spectacular saves in the last quarter.

Wolves, who fielded former Manchester United players Ince in midfield and Denis Irwin in defence, showed limitless spirit and determination as they kept pace with the Red Devils and prevented them from getting their game flowing. Irwin, 38, exemplified this spirit as he time after time kept pace with 19 year-old Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and repeatedly frustrated his attempts to either shoot at goal or cross for his colleagues.

The Wolves defence worked hard to ensure that none of United's four strikers, Ronaldo, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan and David Bellion, could get so much as a clear look at goal. And on the odd occasion that they managed to shoot, Oakes was more than equal to the task.