United 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United side go into the new year in second place in the Premier League thanks to a sensational late win against Wolves.
The manager made six changes from the Reds' XI that started our Boxing Day 2-2 draw at Leicester City, four days ago.
Following the delights of United’s last Old Trafford showing just before Christmas with that astonishing 6-2 treat against Leeds, this was a come-down in terms of entertainment value with goal chances few and far between on a cold Manchester evening until Rashford came up with a late, late winner.
It had been a frustrating night for the Reds but, once again, United's perseverance and never-say-die attitude came to the fore and turned a match that was heading for a stalemate into added-time glory.
FIRST HALF - BRUNO CLOSE BUT WOLVES DANGEROUS
The Reds' squad had enjoyed 24 hours more rest than Wolves with the visitors having played last Sunday in a 1-1 draw with Spurs. The Midlanders only made four changes from the XI that had started at Molineux but made a livelier start than United in front of goal.
It didn’t really amount to a serious test for David De Gea but our goalkeeper had to make three saves from Pedro Neto, Vitinha and Ruben Neves inside the first 15 minutes. Then defender Romain Saiss hit the top of United’s bar at the Stretford End from a free-kick.
United didn’t wake up as an attacking force until the 34th minute, when Mason Greenwood created the best chance of the match as he lofted a delivery to the far post. Bruno Fernandes connected with the cross but Wolves keeper Rui Patricio saved from point-blank range.
It was De Gea who was back in action next when Saiss flicked on a 39th-minute free-kick from Neto and our Spanish no.1 reacted superbly to double-fist away the goalbound effort.
SECOND HALF - RASHFORD TO THE RESCUE
Solskjaer made his first change of the match at half-time with Luke Shaw coming on for Alex Telles.
United struggled to create any danger to the visitors in the opening minutes of the second half and, after 64 minutes, the manager decided to add a new dimension up front by subbing Mason Greenwood and bringing on Anthony Martial in his place.
After 69 minutes, Eduinson Cavani, seeking his first Old Trafford goal, had the ball in the net but was ruled offside immediately and the assistant-referee’s decision was confirmed by VAR, despite some suspicion that Conor Coady had accidentally handled in the build-up.
Paul Pogba managed to get a shot off after 75 minutes as United started to take command as the prominent attacking force but the Frenchman’s long-range drive was saved well by keeper Patricio and Martial followed up with a chance from distance but got underneath his effort and it sailed high over into the empty stands.
As the fourth-official signalled five added minutes, hero Rashford found himself in the box and his shot took a deflection off defender Saiss to wrong-foot Patricio in goal and snatch the three points for the Reds to end 2020 on a hard-earned winning note.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire (c), Telles (Shaw 45); Matic, Pogba; Greenwood (Martial 64), Fernandes (McTominay 94), Rashford; Cavani.
Subs not used: Henderson, Tuanzebe, Fred, James, Mata, van de Beek.
Goals: Rashford 90+3
Wolves: Patricio, Hoever, Kilman, Coady, Ait-Nouri, Saiss, Moutinho, Neves, Vitinha (Podence 54), Traore, Neto (Fabio Silva 68).
Subs not used: Ruddy, Nélson Semedo, Cundle, Richards, Otasowie, Corbeanu, Marques.