Marcus Rashford came off the bench to score the winner for Manchester United against Wolves after being dropped for disciplinary reasons.
The England striker drilled low into the net late in the game to secure a 1-0 victory for Erik ten Hag’s team that moves them above Tottenham into the top four.
Wolves, in their first home Premier League game under Julen Lopetegui, competed well throughout and looked set to frustrate United before Rashford’s intervention.
The England forward was denied a second goal soon after that was ruled out for handball and David de Gea had to save well from Raul Jimenez in stoppage-time to win the game.
Wolves: Sa (8), Semedo (6), Collins (6), Kilman (7), Bueno (7), Nunes (7), Neves (7), Moutinho (6), Podence (6), Costa (6), Hwang (6).
Subs: Traore (7), Jonny (6), Toti (6), Ait-Nouri (6), Jimenez (6).
Away Team: De Gea (8), Wan-Bissaka (7), Varane (7), Shaw (8), Malacia (8), Casemiro (7), Eriksen (6), Fernandes (7), Antony (6), Martial (6), Garnacho (6).
Subs: Rashford (8), Fred (7), Van de Beek (6), Maguire (n/a), Elanga (n/a).
Player of the match: Luke Shaw
How Man Utd won it at Wolves
United arrived having won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions and with the chance to move within one point of Newcastle in third with victory. Having scored in each of their last 10 and with Wolves vulnerable at the back, Ten Hag would have expected goals.
But it proved tricky. United had the better chances in the first half with Casemiro’s header deflected over the bar early on, but the clearest chance fell to Rashford’s replacement. Alejandro Garnacho seized on Nelson Semedo’s back-pass but could not beat Jose Sa.
Wolves made one change to the team that won at Everton with Portugal international Matheus Nunes returning to the team in place of young midfielder Joe Hodge.
Marcus Rashford dropped to the bench for Manchester United due to what Erik ten Hag described as an ‘internal disciplinary’ issue with Alejandro Garnacho taking his place, while Luke Shaw continued to deputise in the centre of defence.
The Wolves goalkeeper also did well to deny Antony, scrambling the ball off the line in first-half stoppage-time. At the other end, Wolves threatened without testing De Gea – a tame shot from the hardworking Diego Costa being the closest they came in 45 minutes.
The game ignited in the second half following the introduction of Rashford and the livewire Adama Traore at the interval. It was the Wolves winger who initially made the bigger impact and Ruben Neves forced a fine save from De Gea with a long-range free-kick.
But with Wolves making conservative changes and defending deeper, Rashford found the breakthrough. He received a clever pass from Bruno Fernandes and wriggled free of Jonny Otto, Nathan Collins and Toti Gomes before forcing the ball low into the net.
It was a third goal in as many games following his return from the World Cup and there was almost a fourth when his attempt ricocheted back off Sa and found the back of the net only for that to be ruled out for handball. It gave Wolves hope and they almost snatched a point.
Prior to that stoppage-time victory at Everton on Boxing Day, their only wins this season had come at home to the only two teams below them in the Premier League table. It offered little encouragement that they could trouble an in-form Manchester United.
But when Jimenez, on a substitute himself, headed firmly towards goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri’s left-wing corner they almost earned a point. De Gea saved it and in a tight game it was the man who had been punished by his manager who made the difference.
FPL Stats: Wolves 0-1 Man Utd
|Bonus points||Shaw (3), Malacia (3), Wan-Bissaka (1), Varane (1)|
Man Utd’s win in stats
- Erik ten Hag has won 10 of his first 16 Premier League matches, only Ole Gunnar Solskjær reached 10 wins in fewer matches amongst Manchester United managers in the competition’s history.
- Manchester United haven’t lost their final league game in any of the last 11 calendar years since a 3-2 defeat to Blackburn in 2011.
- Manchester United have won three consecutive away league games against Wolves for the first time in their history.
- Wolves have scored just two goals in their last eight games against Man Utd in all competitions, failing to find the net on six occasions in this run.
- Marcus Rashford scored in three consecutive appearances in all competitions for Man Utd for the first time since November 2019. Indeed, today’s strike was his 100th goal involvement in the Premier League (65 goals, 35 assists).
- Rashford also scored his 12th Premier League goal as a substitute, only Ole Gunnar Solskjær (17) and Javier Hernandez (14) have netted more from the bench for the club.
Wolves are back in action on Wednesday evening in a Midlands derby against Aston Villa at Villa Park. They travel to Anfield to face Liverpool in the FA Cup third round on Saturday.
Manchester United have two home games coming up at Old Trafford in the coming week. They host Bournemouth in the Premier League on Tuesday night before facing Everton in the FA Cup third round on Friday.