Carling Cup - Hernandez United's hero again
Javier Hernandez came off the bench to score a 90th-minute winner and give Manchester United a 3-2 win over Wolves in the fourth round of the Carling Cup at Old Trafford.
All the action came in a thrilling second-half in which Bebe and Park Ji-Sung twice put United into the lead only to be pegged back by almost instant replies from George Elokobi and Kevin Foley.
With the clock ticking down and extra-time looming, substitute Hernandez, who score twice at Stoke at the weekend, stole the headlines once again with a classy run and fine finish and this time Wolves had no answer.
The result moves United into the quarter-finals of a competition that they have won three times in the last five years, though it was harsh on a Wolves side that showed not just admirable spirit, but no little lack of talent, with the jinking runs of Matt Jarvis in particular catching the eye.
Michael Owen's anticipated return from injury failed to materialise, so much of the pre-match interest centred around Portuguese striker Bebe, who was handed his first start for United since his £7.4m move in the summer.
He proved one of the liveliest, most-impressive performers in a first half that was admittedly badly lacking in inspiration and quality. Neither goalkeeper was genuinely tested, though Federico Macheda's 20th minute toe-poke through a defender's legs did at least warm the palms of Wayne Hennessey.
Perseverance and strong running from Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Steven Fletcher earned Wolves a succession of free-kicks around the area, though poor delivery let the hosts off the hook every time.
As if to make up for a yawn-inducing first half, the game exploded into life after the break, with both sides suddenly finding the way in behind each other's defences.
First Macheda curled a shot inches past the far post, before Darron Gibson struck a fierce free-kick from all of 35 yards that Hennessey could only gather at the second attempt.
Ebanks-Blake then drove a shot straight at Jonny Evans when left unmarked in the area, before United opened the scoring on the following attack through Bebe. The Portuguese winger once again forced his way past Elokobi on the right, before seeing his shot deflect over the stranded Hennessey. Foley raced back to head clear, though the assistant referee signalled that the ball had already crossed the line.
The lead lasted just three minutes however, as United's defence were twice caught napping. First Fabio da Silva managed to get his leg in the way of a Stephen Hunt drive after the Irishman was left totally free in front of goal, though there was no let off from the resultant corner, when Elokobi rose unchallenged to head home David Jones's corner.
With both defences all at sea, Hunt had another chance to get himself on the scoresheet after being expertly teed-up by Jarvis, though he could only skim his shot off the top of the bar, before Macheda blazed over on the half-volley from Bebe's cross moments later at the other end.
Park put the home side back into the lead, with a fine left-foot finish. The Korean was fortunate to see his pass to Macheda rebound back into his own path after a strong run at the Wolves defence, though his finish from just inside the area left Hennessey rooted to the spot.
Once again Wolves wasted no time in fighting back. Ebanks-Blake and Fletcher combined well to spread the ball to Foley on the right hand side of the area, and though the Irishman was forced to check his run, he turned expertly before finishing low past young United keeper Ben Amos.
Sir Alex Ferguson responded by throwing on Hernandez in place of Bebe, and the Mexican's impact on the game was instant, and almost decisive. He threaded a wonderfully measured through-ball into the path of the marauding Gabriel Obertan on the right, only for the Frenchman's shot to be well-blocked by Hennessey.
With the clock ticking down, Hernandez made the difference for his side once again. He latched onto a measured pass from Michael Carrick and ran straight at the Wolves defence, drew a challenge from Steven Mouyokolo, before shifting the ball onto his left foot and beating Hennessey with a cool chipped finish.