Park pounces to defeat dogged Wolves

It was perhaps a fitting way for Sir Alex Ferguson to celebrate his

24th anniversary as United boss given the number of times his side

have snatched victory in such a manner. Mick McCarthy will not be

the last manager to thrash about in frustration after United

old-boy Sylvan Ebanks-Blake had looked to have snatched a deserved

point for his team, cancelling out Park’s opener in the first half.

However Park’s run into the penalty area in the final seconds went

unchallenged and he found the bottom corner of the net. But it was

not all good news for United, with the future of Owen Hargreaves

again under scrutiny after the midfielder lasted just five minutes

after starting for the first time since September 2008 before

limping off with a hamstring injury. The subject of Hargreaves’

fitness has been the subject of debate for a number of weeks now.

At one point his Colorado-based surgeon Dr Richard Steadman claimed

he was ready to play, only for Ferguson to step in and explain the

midfielder had suffered a setback in his recovery programme. Only a

week ago, Ferguson suggested he had no idea when Hargreaves would

return, so the midfielder’s presence in this afternoon’s starting

line-up was a big shock. His departure was probably less of a

surprise. After making a spirited start, the England star signalled

to the bench he had a problem following an attempted cross from his

right-wing station. Hargreaves tried to continue but it was

impossible and he made his way off, first to the touchline, then

down the tunnel, a dejected figure, whose career is now thrown into

fresh doubt, even though his latest setback is so obviously nothing

to do with the dodgy knees that have kept him out for so long. It

is quite possible Hargreaves had gone before Fabio Capello, who had

made the short trip south from Bolton, had even taken his seat. The

introduction of Bebe was an obvious move given the options Ferguson

had at his disposal. Yet United’s team sheet appeared woefully

weak. Just 35 appearances, before today, for their front three, the

vast majority of which had come as a substitute. Wolves sensed

their opponents were in trouble and once Richard Stearman had

bravely blocked a Bebe shot, they pushed forward with intent. Matt

Jarvis was a particular threat and if Nemanja Vidic had diverted

Nenad Milijas’ 20-yard shot just inside, rather than outside, Edwin

van der Sar’s right-hand post, the stranded Dutchman could not have

kept it out. As it was, the game was still level when Darren

Fletcher provided the pass of the first half, cutting in from the

left before splitting the Wolves defence in two with a brilliant

through ball that allowed Park to finish smartly. After a

disappointing start to the second period, Wolves finally gained

their reward for all their industry when Ebanks-Blake was in the

right place to intercept a Milijas shot, turn sharply round Vidic,

then drive a fine shot through the legs of Van der Sar. Under such

circumstances, the introduction of Paul Scholes was an obvious

move, so too that of Federico Macheda as Bebe joined that rare

breed of substitutes who have been substituted themselves. Yet the

golden chance fell to a Wolves replacement as Steven Fletcher found

himself with a clear sight of United’s goal following an

ill-advised attempted clearance by Vidic. Instead of calmly finding

the net, the Scotland international rushed his chance and scooped

it over. Wolves thought they would at least be heading home with a

point. Then Park cut inside the area from the right wing two

minutes into injury-time, and drove his shot past Hahnemann at the

near post.