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United 3 Wolves 2: Cult Status For Cup Hero



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Manchester United escaped further controversy as they secured safe passage to the Quarter-finals of the Carling Cup with a 3-2 win over the Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford.

Javier Hernandez has done his growing reputation no harm as he came as a late second-half substitute to score the all-important goal in United’s dramatic win over Wolves.

The Red Devils took the lead twice through Bebé’s first goal for the club, and then Ji-Sung Park’s neat finish, but equalizers from both George Elokobi and Kevin Foley made this Fourth Round tie all that much more enticing until the young Mexican stole the show to earn United a spot in the next round.

As expected and promised, Sir Alex Ferguson chose a very young, but capable line-up against Wolves – with the most surprising inclusion in the starting XI was shock summer signing, Bebé, who was making his first-ever starting for United.

The United boss also gave Ben Amos his first start in nearly two years and Gabriel Obertan made his start after coming on as a late substitute in their 2-1 win over Stoke City this weekend.

United had the first half-chance when Obertan dispossessed a Wolves’ defender and ran at their defenders before cutting back and picking out Darron Gibson, and the Irish midfielder’s goal-bound shot was deflected out for a United corner.

In the 12th minute, United had a shout for a penalty as Obertan’s outside-of-the-boot shot struck George Elokobi’s hand, but the referee thought against it.

Moments later The Wanderers had their own half-chance, but former United youngster, David Jones, could not get on the end of Stephen Hunt’s through ball and Amos did well to gather it up.

The first save of the match came after Bebé’s cross into Federico Macheda, but the young center forward’s shot lacked accuracy and went straight into the midriff of Wayne Hennessey.

The match became a game of very static in with very few chances being created by either side.

To prove that point, the next opportunity came 12 minutes as Michael Carrick opting to shoot from distance, but it went well over the Wolves’ crossbar.

Mick McCarthy was aware of the lack of effort and enthusiasm put in by his team, and he was seen going off on a few of his players, which seemed to work.

Wolves earned free-kick in a very good position, but Jones’ 25-yard effort lack height and accuracy as it hit the United wall.

Chris Smalling fouled Sylvan Ebanks-Blake on the United right channel, and Amos did very well to get his hands to Jones’ in-swinging free-kick.

On the stroke of half-time, there was some very good combination play between Obertan and Bebé, but the latter of the two’s shot went high over Hennessey’s bar.

United started the second-half with more potency about their attack, but Carrick was still unable to find the target.

Wolves had a good chance as well as Matty Jarvis’ cross floated to the back stick, and was met by Steven Fletcher, but, like Carrick, he could not direct his shot to test Amos.

Obertan picked out Macheda inside of the Wolves penalty area, and he did well to make some space for himself, but his shot narrowly missed catching the corner.

Smalling made a driving run into the midfield, but his run was impeded by a couple of Wolves midfielders, which set up a free-kick for United in a good position.

Gibson decided to shoot from 35-yards out, but his powerful, bending shot was directly at the Wolves’ goalkeeper.

Then came the best of the match and United should have been in front, but Carrick’s wonderful pass to Park was wasted as the South Korean shot right at Hennessey.

However, a few minutes later the moment that all the fans inside Old Trafford were waiting for came as Bebé’s cross-shot dipped over Hennessey and over the line to give United lead.

The shot looked to have been admirably cleared off the line, but the linesman flag and raced towards the center of the field, which indicates a goal and he got the decision spot on.

United’s lead, though, only last for all of four minutes as they continued to be susceptible from

As they did all match, Wolves threw bodies forward on set-pieces to put pressure on the young United goalkeeper, and that paid off as they equalized through Elokobi’s first goal for Wolves.

Wolves should have been in front, but Steven Hunt’s shot clipped the top of Amos’ crossbar after Jarvis did well to lay the ball on a silver platter for the fit-again winger.

Park was given the opportunity to run into space in front of the Wolves defense, but his shot lacked the fizz it needed to challenge the Wolves ‘keeper as it went harmlessly wide.

Then it was United’s time to blow a good chance from an ideal position as Bebé’s cross was met first-time by Macheda, but he blasted the ball over from just eight-yards out.

Gibson earned the first booking of the match as he lunged in on Michael Mancienne and Lee Mason thought that it was worthy of a yellow card.

United continued to be picked apart and stretched by Wolves, which created a few chances for the visitors to get their noses in front, but thankfully

Ji-Sung Park made amends for his earlier his miss as he latched on to a loose ball in the Wolverhampton area to strike it passed helpless Hennessey.

Gibson nearly gave United some breathing rooming, but his long-range effort was gobbled up by the Wolverhampton goalkeeper.

Gary Neville, who was comically substituted at half-time against Stoke, entered the match as he replaced Fabio with hope to add more stability to the United back-four.

Moments after the change, Dave Jones had a good look at goal, but his shot ended up going well

With no surprise, United threw away the lead after a clever back-heel from Fletcher found Kevin Foley and the right-back slotted home.

The game had the life that the first-half lacked, and it should have been full speed ahead for United into the quarter-finals, but Obertan missed the target from a very good position.

McCarthy threw on Kevin Doyle, who has scored against United during his days with Reading, to add more attacking flare to his team.

Javier Hernandez, who came on as a second-half substitute for Bebe, increased his reputation as one for the future as he scored a magnificent goal to give United their third lead.

After the goal, the referee had to be replaced by the fourth official as Mason picked up some sort of injury.

With one substitution left, Ferguson gave a first-team debut, albeit two minute cameo for young Ravel Morrison, who was just handed his senior shirt hours before the match.

Manchester United did well to see out the win, but they have continued to give their supporters more ulcers by giving away the lead twice in this match against Wolverhampton.

Usually the player that scores the game-winning goal is the Player of the Game, but Bebé enjoyed a wonderful first start and deservedly got his goal – whether he meant or not.

B. Amos – 5; W. Brown – 6, C. Smalling – 7, J. Evans – 6, Fabio – 6 (G. Neville – 5); J. S. Park – 6 (R. Morrison – X), M. Carrick – 6, D. Gibson – 6; Bebé – 7 (J. Hernandez – 7), F. Macheda – 5, G. Obertan – 6

Bebé (56′), J. S. Park (70′). J. Hernandez (90′)

Possession: 54%
Corners: 4
Shots (On Target): 17 (10)
Fouls Conceded (Suffered): 13 (6)
Bookings: D. Gibson
Attendance: 46,083

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"The United Religion: A Manchester United View From Abroad," www.theunitedreligion.com, is a blog that delivers an American perspective on one of the world's most successful football clubs. Since I have an opinion about anything and everything, I decided to put many of my off-the-wall ideas as well as passionate feelings about the ongoings of United into words. In my writings, you will discover that I do my best to back up all of my outlandish opinions, and finicky analysis with statistical and/or factual evidence. If you wish to publish any of the articles, or have any questions, please contact me directly at theunitedreligion[at]gmail[dot]com.