Manchester United Rescued By Ji-Sung Park Against Wolverhampton
Manchester United were rescued by an injury time goal from Ji-Sung Park to prevent an embarrassing home draw against relegation zone Wolverhampton Wanderers.
United were forced to start a very unusual looking starting XI due to injuries and a virus going around Old Trafford. There was good news though, as for the first time since 2008 Owen Hargreaves was included in the starting XI.
The euphoria of Hargreaves returning to the team was short lived though, as Hargreaves' return lasted less than five minutes before the midfielder had to come off with a hamstring problem.
Summer signing Bebe came on to replace Hargreaves and suddenly the team on the field looked less like a Manchester United first team, and more like a Manchester United Carling Cup team.
From the midfield forward, only Darren Fletcher could be considered a first-choice player for Sir Alex Ferguson, with Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez starting to demand a first-team place. They were flanked by unproven youngsters Gabriel Obertan and Bebe who both scored during the midweek Champions League fixture against Bursaspor.
John O' Shea was also included in the midfield, though in the past few years he has been used primarily as a defender.
The most important man on the pitch however, was midfielder Park Ji-Sung. Park started out on the left wing, though with the team looking the way it did, it was clear Park was going to have to have more of a roll than his typical hard-working style.
Despite both Obertan and Bebe scoring earlier in the week, neither could be looked at as a reliable option to depend on to score. With Javier Hernandez being the only striker on the pitch, the Wolves defense put most of their focus on him.
United were struggling to mount any sort of attack, especially with Bebe struggling and failing to find the form that he had in his previous two appearances.
When it looked as if United were never going to be able to score, in stepped Park to step up and open the scoring just before the halftime whistle.
The second half was more of the same, with United once again failing to mount a serious attack. Just after the hour mark, after Sylvan Ebanks-Blake was introduced for Wolves, United's defensive struggles came out once again allowing Wolves to even the score.
United brought on Paul Scholes, who played 90 minutes during the midweek, and who United were clearly trying to save for the Manchester derby this Wednesday, to try to save this game along with Federico Macheda with 15 minutes left to play.
This match was very similar to the match that these two teams played in the Carling Cup just two weeks ago. In that game, Javier Hernandez came on with 10 minutes to play and rescued United to score a late winner.
This time, it wouldn't be Hernandez to save United, but rather a man who fans rarely look to for a goal in a big situation. After striking in the first half, many thought Ji-Sung Park had made his contribution for the game.
Everyone except for Park that is.
Deep into injury time, Park made a move inside the box before firing a shot towards the near post that snuck behind keeper Marcus Hannaman to give United the win.
Park is routinely one of United's most undervalued players. He is looked highly upon for his strong work-rate, but many see him as a player who lacks strong attacking skills. Nevertheless Park has had a history of scoring goals in big games.
With United dropping points early in the season, and too many injuries to count, every game United is playing now is a big game. And when there is a big game, Ji-Sung Park has stepped up and raised his game to rescue Manchester United.
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