Rashford finds the winner for United despite being benched due to ‘internal disciplinary’

The breaking news ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Molineux today involved Marcus Rashford – who would be starting on the bench as the result of an ‘internal disciplinary’, according to United manager Erik Ten Hag.

Alejandro Garnacho was chosen as the English forward’s replacement, in what would be the only change to the Red Devils’ starting eleven. Wolves also made one change, with Matheus Nunes replacing Hodge. The last time these two sides met at Molineux in the Premier League, United emerged as 1-0 winners thanks to a late goal from Mason Greenwood.

A minute’s applause was held before kick-off in memory of Brazilian football icon Pelé, who lost his battle with cancer earlier this week. The hosts started the game well, with Garnacho soon being penalised for pulling Semedo as the Portuguese defender made a run down the wing.

Wolves thought they had a chance through Hwang and Diego Costa, after Eriksen had lost possession in his own half – but the flag was promptly raised as the Spaniard was in an offside position. At the other end of the pitch, it was United who had an opportunity to open the scoring as Casemiro attacked Eriksen’s corner – but his header was sent over the bar after a deflection by the Wolves defence. The resulting corner found Garnacho, but the young Argentinian blazed his effort well over the top of the bar.

United began to assert a dominance in the middle of the pitch, keeping the hosts pinned into their own half and limiting their forward progression. Wolves’ left-back, Hugo Bueno, managed to find space on the left and whipped a cross towards the box – but Varane was there to clear the danger for United and put the ball out for a Wolves corner – which didn’t result in much.

United’s best chance of the first-half came through Alejandro Garnacho, who really should have scored after intercepting a poor pass from Semedo towards Jose Sa. The United winger drove his powerful shot low – but the Portuguese keeper was able to make the save as Ten Hag’s side fumbled the perfect opportunity to put themselves ahead.

Antony forced Jose Sa into action once again, after breaking away down the right wing before cutting inside and finding space to unleash a shot – but the Brazilian slipped as he did so. His effort deflected off Ruben Neves, and Sa was forced into a save to prevent an embarrassing opener.

Matheus Nunes made a run into the final third, offloading the ball towards Diego Costa, though the striker was only able to fire a tame strike straight into the palms of David De Gea. Nelson Semedo received the first yellow card of the game shortly afterwards, having brought Garnacho down.

Daniel Podence’s run into the final third saw him unleash a cross towards Ruben Neves – who in turn released a shot on the half-volley – though Shaw was there to deflect the ball behind for a corner.

United’s defence were called into action again as Hwang Hee-Chan sent a cross in from the right-wing towards Daniel Podence at the back post. Varane was in a prime position block his left-footed strike and keep the scoreline at 0-0.

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United had one last chance in the final minute of the first half, as Martial’s header was mistimed and sent the ball towards the back post, rather than in the direction of Jose Sa’s goal. Antony was at the back post to head home, but Sa was able to save and the offside flag was raised anyway.

Both managers made a change at the break, with Rashford and Traore replacing Garnacho and Costa respectively. Adama Traore was soon utilised by Wolves, as he made his way through United’s midfield, but a composed defence was there to clear the danger.

Antony unleashed a left-footed shot after a blistering run down the right flank, but Collins was able to intercept, though the ball hit his arm in the process. Appeals for a penalty were dismissed as the officials felt that the defender’s arm was in a natural position.

United broke through the Wolves defence once again with Rashford offloading to Martial, who then found Fernandes in the box. The Portuguese midfielder’s effort was deflected towards Antony – but Sa was able to gather the ball before the Brazilian winger could take his shot.

Casemiro went into the referee’s book with the second yellow card of the game, after bringing down Podence with a careless lunge. The resulting free-kick was taken by Neves, who unleashed a strike towards the top-right corner – forcing a save from De Gea.

Eriksen made way for Fred in the heart of United’s midfield, shortly before Jonny Castro replaced Nelson Semedo for the hosts. United’s Brazilian midfielder was the third player in the book, after wiping out Collins who had intercepted a pass from Luke Shaw. Neves’ free-kick was fired straight at the defensive wall.

Moutinho and Hugo Bueno made way for Rayan Hit Nouri and Toti with just under twenty minutes left to play.

United finally found the lead with a 76th minute strike from half-time substitute Marcus Rashford, as a one-two with Bruno Fernandes after a blazing run down the left flank gave the Englishman an opportunity to work his way into the box and hammer a shot past Jose Sa.

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Two more substitutions were in order, as Podence made way for Raul Jimenez – while Ten Hag called upon Donny van de Beek to replace Anthony Martial in a bid to preserve their lead.

Rashford believed he had scored a second after he hammered home on the rebound, having had his first effort saved by Jose Sa. A brief VAR check chalked the goal off, as it was clear that the ball had struck the forward’s hand. Rashford soon found himself receiving a yellow card for timewasting.

United were granted another opportunity to double their advantage after Donny van de Beek found space to offload a pass towards Fernandes on the edge of the box. Despite taking a touch, the Portuguese midfielder’s effort posed no threat to Sa.

Five minutes of added time saw the final two substitutions of the game, with Ten Hag choosing to replace Antony and Fernandes with Elanga and Maguire. The defender was soon called upon to make a vital last-minute clearance, after De Gea was forced into a save as Jimenez had connected with Rayan Ait-Nouri’s cross.

The final whistle saw United return home with a crucial three points that sees them move into the top four. The Red Devils will next play on the 3rd of January, as they host Bournemouth. The Old Trafford club could still be overtaken by Spurs, who face Aston Villa tomorrow – but Ten Hag’s side have a game in hand over the North London team. Three points for Wolves would have seen them escape the relegation zone, but instead they find themselves in 18th ahead of their trip to Villa Park on January 4th.

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