Marcus Rashford’s deflected stoppage-time strike secured Manchester United a hard-fought victory against Wolves and ensured Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men start 2021 second in the Premier League.

The encounter was the fourth meeting of these sides in 2020 and looked set to end with them sharing a third goalless draw as the hectic festive schedule took its toll.

But United dug deep and eked out a late winner at an empty Old Trafford, with Rashford capping a year to remember – on and off the field – by sealing a 1-0 triumph at the death.

It was a welcome shot in the arm at the end of a topsy-turvy 2020 for United, who are now two points off leaders Liverpool ahead of their match against Newcastle on Wednesday.

United were ponderous in periods and looked set to fall short, with Bruno Fernandes seeing a close-range strike denied in the first half and Edinson Cavani having a goal ruled out for offside after the break.

Man of the match Romain Saiss was Wolves’ biggest threat and made an unwanted impact in stoppage time when Rashford’s effort hit him and found the back of the net.

Solskjaer said afterwards: “Last season we didn’t win many points towards the end of games and we have a tradition of it at this club.

“Now we’ve won quite a few points towards the end of games and that’s both a mental aspect and also a physical aspect.

“We’ve got a group now that’s more robust both mentally and physically, we’ve gone through some tough training periods and played loads of games and they’re getting fitter.

“But mentally it gives you a mental boost knowing you can win games towards the end of games.

“We just focus on the next game. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves. We’re not even halfway and it’s a long way to go.”

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said: “We were organised until the last moments.

“This is football, it’s a learning process. We have to know that sometimes it’s cruel in the moment, but we cannot stay on getting sorry with what happened – let’s try to move forward.”

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