Marcus Rashford stepped out into the cold night air, crossed himself and set off onto the green grass of Molineux. This time last week he was already swimming in Patron tequila. Now it was time to move on.
Those wags at Wolves weren’t going to let him off the hook that easily, though.
As Rashford warmed up with his teammates on Thursday night, the choice of match-day tunes began with a cover version of Tequila by Terrorvision followed by the song of the same name by The Champs.
At least Erik ten Hag had spared Rashford a demotion to the substitutes’ bench that has been his naughty step before here in the West Midlands.
The last time Manchester United were in town, on New Year’s Eve 2022, Rashford was dropped for oversleeping before a team meeting, and came on to score the winner. Wolves should probably have known what was coming last night.
Kobbie Mainoo (left) was Man United’s match-winner with a stunning 97th-minute goal
The 18-year-old sensation hit an incredibly worked winner from outside the box to clinch a thrilling contest at Molineux
Mainoo lets out a roar after netting his first Premier League goal for United at a crucial moment
Marcus Rashford had earlier scored on his first game since missing training last week following a reported ’12 hour tequila bender’ in Belfast
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His crime this time has been documented in great detail over the last week. A drunken night out in Belfast, via the Dirty Onion pub, Lavery’s Bar and Thompsons Garage, followed by a missed training session.
The 26-year-old came into this game with the rather obscure accolade of scoring the most Premier League goals on a Thursday night of any player except Harry Kane, but it was what Rashford did last Thursday that had overshadowed United’s FA Cup win at Newport on Sunday and was always likely to be the main talking point here as well.
It took United’s No.10 less than five minutes to alter the narrative as he got the ball rolling on a seven-goal thriller that ended with Kobbie Mainoo snatching victory for United in added time.
Alejandro Garnacho passed to Diogo Dalot on the right and Bruno Fernandes dummied his Portuguese compatriot’s low cross. Rasmus Hojlund span his marker and thought about shooting before laying the ball back for Rashford.
He knew exactly what to do, curling the ball coolly beyond Jose Sa from 15 yards. After that 12-hour tequila bender, these are the kind of shots Ten Hag would much rather see Rashford taking.
Hojlund’s part in the goal should not be ignored either. Their partnership has taken a long time to click, but this was the fifth goal they have shared in the last four league games and a sixth wasn’t far behind.
Again the move started on the right between Dalot and Garnacho who cut inside and switched play to Rashford on the left. He fed Luke Shaw on the overlap and the defender’s low cross took a touch off Maximilian Kilman and Sa before Hojlund bundled it over the line.
This time it was Rashford’s contribution that deserved recognition. ‘Rashford’s on the p***!’ sang the jubilant United fans.
On nights like this, he really does look a fine footballer. Hungry and full of running. You can see why the likes of Alan Shearer have expressed concerns that he could waste his career by going down the wrong path.
Rashford celebrates putting Man United in front inside the first five minutes
Rashford was a constant threat and United looked to be cruising to victory when Rasmus Hojlund (left) doubled their lead in the first half
But Pablo Sarabia gave Wolves hope when he slotted home a second-half penalty
Scott McTominay restored United’s two-goal cushion, but there was more drama to come
Up to that point, Wolves had played their part, but they were becoming increasingly ragged and United could have been out of sight by half-time.
Hojlund had Casemiro had goals ruled out for offside. Casemiro and Fernandes placed efforts narrowly wide of Sa’s right-hand post.
This was so much better from a United side that have stumbled and spluttered through this season ever since a fortuitous win in the opening game against Wolves at Old Trafford in March when Andre Onana got away with conceding a late penalty for his wild challenge on Sasa Kalajdzic.
Onana was back in goal here after a brief absence at the Africa Cup of Nations, but Wolves didn’t test the Cameroon keeper nearly enough against a United side who look considerably more stable following the return of Lisandro Martinez and Casemiro. They were more confident building out from the back, and more threatening in attack, than they have been for much of this campaign.
Max Kilman made it 3-2 as he fired home after Craig Dawson kept the ball alive from a set-piece
Pedro Neto then brought Wolves level as his deflected effort wrong-footed Andre Onana
If this wasn’t Ten Hag’s strongest line-up back together at last, it was pretty close to it. If he can keep them together for the rest of the season, that eight-point gap between United and the top-four doesn’t look so worrying after all.
Martinez underlined his importance moments after half-time when Onana came out for a cross but was beaten to it by Kilman, and the Argentine produced an excellent clearance from under his own crossbar. A Wolves goal at that stage could have changed the course of this game against a United side who let League Two Newport back into Sunday’s cup tie after going two up.
Onana used his face to keep out Craig Dawson’s effort soon afterwards as United creaked and Wolves and their supporters sensed a way back into the contest.
Their opportunity came in the 71st minute after Pedro Neto went down rather theatrically claiming he had been caught by Casemiro’s trailing leg. The Brazilian insisted there was no contact – and replays seemed to back up his argument – but referee Jared Gillett pointed to the spot and VAR backed him up. After a lengthy wait, substitute Pablo Sarabia beat Onana with a penalty down the middle.
Mainoo stepped up at the death to curl home a brilliant finish from the edge of the box
It was a huge result for Erik ten Hag and his side as they move up to seventh in the table
Ten Hag sent on Scott McTominay for Casemiro and Antony for Rashford. Not for the first time season, McTominay got his manager out of a hole, scoring with a header from Fernandes’ corner within two minutes.
It was a vital one too because Kilman scored from close-range off Dalot and Onana before Neto whipped in the equaliser from a Wolves breakaway in nine minutes of injury-time.
United weren’t done though and when Mainoo got the ball 25 yards from goal, the hugely talented teenager beat two players before curling a wonderful shot beyond Sa for his second goal in a week.
On a night of redemption for Rashford, it needed something special to steal the headlines from him and Mainoo had just done it.