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*After being dropped due to a disciplinary issue, Marcus Rashford came off the bench to score the winner as Manchester United beat Wolves 1-0 at Molineux. A place in the Premier League (PL) top four to end 2022 was the reward for United who have now lost just one of their last 15 matches in all competitions (W12, D2).*
After putting the Cristiano Ronaldo debacle behind them, the news of Rashford’s undisclosed discretion brought fresh drama to the Red Devils camp. Erik ten Hag’s stance was clear and his side, without necessarily controlling the game, certainly had the better chances of an entertaining first half. Casemiro saw his header deflected over the bar inside the first 10 minutes, while Nélson Semedo breathed a huge sigh of relief after his woeful pass allowed Alejandro Garnacho a huge opportunity, but José Sá was on hand to come to his compatriot’s rescue and deny the 18-year-old.
Julen Lopetegui’s men certainly carried a threat on the counter, but David De Gea remained largely untested. The hosts’ best opening came as they turned the ball over in the attacking third, only for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to make a crucial block to deny João Moutinho what appeared a certain goal. With momentum swinging against them, United spurned a huge chance to snatch the lead in first-half stoppage time. Garnacho’s deflected cross dropped to Martial inside the six-yard box, but he failed to work the goalkeeper.
Chances were at a premium in the second half, with De Gea finally called into serious action to deny Rúben Neves’ long-range free-kick. Most of United’s attacks had been focused down the right through Antony, but it was down the left through Rashford, finally released from the naughty step at HT, who would make the prized breakthrough. After playing a quick one-two with Bruno Fernandes, Rashford showed tremendous strength to hold off several Wolves defenders before lashing his low strike into the back of the net.
Wolves’ issues were clear, with their lack of cutting edge a real problem all afternoon. Their total of 10 PL goals is the lowest in the division, so it came as little surprise that a late comeback never materialised, although De Gea was forced into a smart stop to deny Raúl Jiménez in stoppage time. Lopetegui has a stern job on his hands to turn around his side’s fortunes at Molineux, as they’ve now lost four consecutive home games and missed out on the chance to escape the relegation zone.
*Flashscore Man of the Match: Luke Shaw (Manchester United)* — _*Flashscore*_