Rashford benched for oversleeping, still nets United winner

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford. Picture: AFP
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WOLVERHAMPTON, England (AP) — Marcus Rashford came off the bench after being dropped for disciplinary reasons and scored the winner for Manchester United on Saturday, securing a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton that sent the team into the Premier League’s top four.

Rashford was dropped by manager Erik ten Hag after missing a team meeting because he overslept, but came on after the halftime break and responded with a well-taken goal in the 76th minute.

The England forward collected the ball on the left before cutting inside and swapping passes with Bruno Fernandes, then dribbled his way past two defenders to sweep it past goalkeeper Jose Sa.

It was Rashford’s 11th goal of the season for his club and meant United will end a turbulent year in fourth place, two points ahead of Tottenham.

Rashford said he had no problem with Ten Hag’s decision to bench him despite being the team’s in-form striker.

“It’s team rules. It’s a mistake that can happen,” Rashford said. “I’m obviously disappointed not to play but I understand the decision and I’m happy we managed to win the game anyway. I think we can draw a line under it and move on. I was a little bit late for a meeting. I slept in, overslept, but it can happen.”

Alejandro Garnacho started in Rashford’s place and had earlier wasted a great chance to score, while United goalkeeper David De Gea had to keep out Ruben Neves’ stunning free kick and a late header from Mexico forward Raul Jimenez at the other end to preserve the win.

United has now lost just one of its last 15 games since a humiliating 6-3 derby loss to Manchester City in October, with Ten Hag making his mark on and off the pitch at Old Trafford.

With Cristiano Ronaldo having left the club after being dropped and disciplined by Ten Hag earlier this season, the Dutchman made another big selection call that ultimately paid off with the manager making his point without it harming United’s form.

Rashford thought he had a second goal in the 84th, only for the effort to be ruled out as a result of the striker handling the ball.

Wolves were looking to escape the relegation zone for the first time in two months but end 2022 in the bottom three.