Incredible scenes at Molineux saw Manchester United become the first Premier League side to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers in the West Midlands since mid-September.
Kobbie Mainoo’s stoppage-time winner propelled Erik ten Hag’s charges to a last-gasp 4-3 win, with the teenage midfielder bagging his first Premier League goal to cancel out Pedro Neto’s 95th-minute equaliser.
Amidst growing speculation linking the Dutch manager with an Old Trafford exit, the Red Devils lived up to their tag as ‘injury-time specialists’ to arrest a two-game winless league streak.
Mainoo’s heroics maintained United’s eight-point deficit on fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur as they finished Gameweek 22 in seventh with 35 points, eight fewer than they had at this stage last season.
Thursday’s nail-biting success at Molineux was a testament to Man Utd’s added-time prowess dating back to Sir Alex Ferguson’s trophy-laden stint at the Theatre of Dreams.
Back in the day, it was aptly named ‘Fergie time’ as United used to salvage points beyond the 90-minute mark with impressive consistency under one of the best managers ever.
Those days are long gone, yet the Red Devils still show occasional flashes of late resilience, as on Thursday when they refused to give up points in stoppages.
Since they had a lead going into stoppages on Thursday, the Molineux showdown is not part of the equation that places Man Utd three places higher in the standings thanks to injury-time goals.
In October, Scott McTominay’s added-time brace saw Ten Hag’s team overturn a deficit to beat Brentford 2-1 at home, while Bruno Fernandes’ 91st-minute strike fired them to a 1-0 win at Fulham in November.
United’s ability to thrive in stoppage-time drama has been off the charts in the Premier League this season, making them a side to have benefited the most from added time.
Neto’s strike was also the first goal United conceded beyond the allotted 90 minutes in 2023/24, underscoring a high level of concentration in the game’s tensest moments.
Arsenal, who rank second in this category, gave Man Utd a taste of their own medicine in early September as late goals from Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus sealed their 3-1 win in a heated affair at the Emirates.
Mikel Arteta’s title-bidding side sit third in the Premier League table, five points adrift of pacesetters Liverpool, largely thanks to goals netted beyond the 80th minute.
Game-winning strikes against Brentford and Manchester City came beyond the 85th minute, but Rice’s 97th-minute winner at Luton Town in December remains the highlight of Arsenal’s ‘never give up’ mentality.
Had they not grabbed late triumphs against United and Luton, they would’ve been languishing fifth in the standings, a place occupied by Tottenham until the last matchday.
Spurs are no strangers to added-time turnarounds themselves, as evidenced by a sensational 2-1 comeback against rock-bottom Sheffield United in September.
Wolverhampton embodied the phrase ‘what comes around, goes around’ when they scored twice in stoppages to beat Tottenham 2-1 in November – on the same day Aston Villa thumped Fulham 3-1.
Unai Emery’s lads have had their blistering injury-time moments this term, though they’ve been among a handful of sides challenging Man City’s title credentials had it not been time additions.
Arsenal and Liverpool belong to this club, with the three sides accumulating 13 added-time points combined this season as part of their top-four quest.
Man City’s bid to become the first Premier League club to win four titles on the trot has not relied on injury-time, as they’ve earned each of their 46 points throughout 90 minutes.
Despite City’s uncontested performances in regulation time, they are among rare top-half sides that came to regret substantial time adjustments in the Premier League this season.
Crystal Palace’s stunning fightback at the Etihad in mid-December stole Pep Guardiola’s team two points, courtesy of Michael Elise’s 95th-minute penalty.
If it weren’t for that upset, they would’ve been topping the league ahead of the weekend.
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