Raphael Varane (C) of Manchester United celebrates with Jadon Sancho during their Premier League clash with Wolves at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, August 14, 2023. /CFP
Manchester United survived an onslaught from Wolves and huge claims for a late penalty to start the Premier League season with a 1-0 win thanks to Raphael Varane's header on Monday.
Wolves had seen manager Julen Lopetegui walk out less than a week before the new campaign, but dominated for long spells at Old Trafford.
A combination of wasteful finishing and new United goalkeeper Andre Onana kept the visitors at bay until Varane headed in 14 minutes from time.
Onana was lucky to escape when he punched Sasa Kalajdzic as he flapped at a cross deep into stoppage time and VAR did not intervene.
"It looked like the keeper nearly took our forward's head off," said Wolves boss Gary O'Neil. "I think it is a foul. You go for the ball and clatter the player that hard. It is a penalty."
O'Neil added that Premier League referees chief Jon Moss had contacted him after the game to apologize for the decision.
Wolvers' Maximilian Kilman (L) and Manchester United's Marcus Rashford battle for the ball during their Premier League clash at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, August 14, 2023. /CFP
United clung on to get off to a winning start, in stark contrast to the two defeats that began Erik ten Hag's reign 12 months ago.
But the manner of the performance raises questions over whether United can pose a serious challenge for their first Premier League title in a decade.
"There is no easy game in the Premier League and definitely not Wolves," said Ten Hag. "You have to fight in every game. We hope we'll be better on the ball in the next game."
United fans' wishes that a new season would start under new ownership have not been met with a sale process seemingly at a standstill.
The home support again showed their displeasure towards owners, the Glazer family, with a pre-match protest against the Americans and chants of "we want Glazers out" at kick-off.
That lingering uncertainty has not stopped another summer of big spending by the Red Devils.
Onana and midfielder Mason Mount were handed their debuts by Ten Hag, but new 64 million pounds ($81 million) striker Rasmus Hojlund was ruled out by a back injury.
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