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Three things we learned from Manchester United - Wolves

Manchester United - Wolves

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ English defender Max Kilman (R) tackles Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 29, 2020. (Photo by Michael Regan / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by MICHAEL REGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Manchester United - Wolves: Marcus Rashford scored his fourth goal in as many games, his deflected stoppage-time shot the difference in Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Wolves at Old Trafford.

The scoreline shouldn’t surprise anyone, as Wolves and United combined for a total of three goals in their previous four outings.

[ MORE: Arsenal strikes late to beat Brighton ]

Now it’s four-in-five, as Rashford’s marker gives Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men 30 points on the season and second place on the table, two behind leaders Liverpool and four clear of the logjam of teams with 26 points between fifth- and ninth-place.

Wolves stay on 21 points, 10 clear of the bottom three and 11 back of the top.


Two things we learned from Manchester United - Wolves

1. Fernandes, Rashford take advantage of weary Wolves: A long, sprayed pass from Bruno Fernandes was chased down behind the backs by Rashford, who worked toward the top of the box and cut right, then left, before smashing a shot that turned off Romain Saiss’ back end to defy Rui Patricio (and really the quality of attack, as we note below).

2. Forwards absent: The Red Devils’ Edinson Cavani has been good and looks set to stay at Old Trafford even longer, but he had an off-night, a second-half goal taken off the board by offside to add to his frustrations. Mason Greenwood’s first appearance in three matches was stopped in the 64th and Anthony Martial’s turn in his place was just a bit better than the teen’s hour-plus. Rashford won it and credit to him for getting a goal on a day he wasn’t at his best.

For Wolves, the challenge of replacing Raul Jimenez, one of the most complete center forwards in the world, has proven daunting. Adama Traore, Pedro Neto and -- eventually -- Fabio Silva did not have an answer at Old Trafford.

Wolves had five of the match’s eight shots on target but United was credited with the match’s lone three big chances.

3. Maguire stands tall: There were two plays in the second half where the ex-Leicester City center back grabbed the game. First, Maguire charged to meet an inswinging corner kick as Silva bid to nod it toward goal. Maguire won the ball and treated the teen to the turf in a physical display quite symbolic of his day. Maguire then acted quickly when De Gea’s outstanding save (see MOTM, below) left a juicy 81st-minute rebound. There was no panic from the England international as he dribbled laterally from his own six to clear the danger.

Man of the Match: David De Gea

United’s long-time No. 1 goalkeeper needed treatment after running into Adama Traore (not on purpose but still not fun). He still managed to make a great save late -- his fifth of the game -- and deserved even more credit for the win than the match-winner Rashford.

Manchester United - Wolves recap

The Red Devils are clearly feeling good these days and showed chemistry in movement during the early stages, most of those spent in the Wolves third.

Pedro Neto struck a clean ball into the arms of David De Gea in the eighth minute after Adama Traore led a Wolves counter. Vitinha then hit a bouncing shot that De Gea caught, Wolves putting the game’s first two shots on frame.

United wasn’t just playing tiki-taka in the 18. Bruno Fernandes and Co. swept several crosses to the back post, absent receiver.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Cavani had the ball in the goal off a corner kick but was offside when he lashed home. But was there a handball? The ball brushed Conor Coady’s hand but VAR wouldn’t punish the defender for, well, having an arm and keeping it in the same spot as most standing people.

It looked deadset for nil-nil when Rashford got onto the end of Fernandes’ pass and juked left and right before putting the ball off an unlucky Saiss -- who was very good -- and behind Rui Patricio.

Follow @NicholasMendola