Hernandez strikes late to keep Wolves at bay
Manchester Utd 3
The green and gold sombreros dotted around Old Trafford might soon outnumber the green and gold scarves if the goals of Javier Hernandez continue to send Wayne Rooney tumbling down the popularity stakes.
Hernandez, the £7m Mexican striker, sent holders United into the Carling Cup quarter-finals by scoring his sixth goal in 11 games after coming on for fellow goalscorer Bebe late on. Two goals at Stoke, a fine finish at Valencia and now a 90th minute winner. And Rooney questioned the club's acquisition strategy.
Not one of Ferguson's starting XI in the 2-1 victory at Stoke was called upon to start, but while younger players were given a chance to prove a point, selection for this tie was further evidence of the purgatory of Wes Brown and Michael Carrick who had just six starts between them all season.
Brown has paid a heavy price for clashing with Ferguson on the club's summer tour of the US, while Carrick has fought a losing battle to return to favour since his woeful performance in the 2009 Champions League final defeat against Barcelona.
While the likes of Bebe, Federico Macheda and Darron Gibson would view this outing as a chance to secure their future, Brown and Carrick would more likely be casting a glimpse to the directors' box in the hope that one of the observers might be prepared to offer them an escape route in January.
None of the established stars did much in the first half, however, to convince Alex Ferguson that they were worthy of more rewarding fixtures.
In front of banks of empty seating, the United fans were at least given a glimpse of Bebe, the £7.4m signing from Guimaraes. Ferguson admitted to not having seen the Portuguese winger play prior to sanctioning his purchase and his delayed introduction to first-team duty led to claims that United had been the victims of a transfer market mugging.
But while he still appears short of the physical requirements in terms of his muscular strength and condition, Bebe does not lack pace or adventure.
In truth, his goal was more cross than shot by the 20-year-old, but Wayne Hennessey was undone by a deflection although Kevin Foley attempted to head clear on the goal-line, the linesman correctly flagged that the ball had crossed the line.
United's lead lasted a mere five minutes, however, as Wolves equalised through full-back George Elokobi before Stephen Hunt hit the crossbar with a great chance two minutes later.
The game was now wide open and Ji-Sung Park put United back in front with 20 minutes remaining. However, Wolves once again took advantage of the home side's defensive frailties to make it 2-2 with Irish international Foley finishing well from 10 yards.
Hernandez sealed victory, though, when he latched onto Darron Gibson's pass before coolly finishing past Hennessey to underline his growing reputation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)