Marcus Rashford has revealed he was dropped for oversleeping and being late for a team meeting before snatching Manchester United winners from Wolves.
The striker came on as a substitute to inspire United’s 1-0 win at Molineux after being fined for breaking rules by manager Erik ten Hag.
He took United to the top four and above Tottenham – who host Aston Villa on New Year’s Day – and Rashford admitted he was responsible for being left out.
He told BT Sport: “Obviously it’s team rules. I made a mistake. It can happen. Obviously I’m sorry I didn’t play, but I understand the decision and I’m happy that we still managed to win.
“Let’s draw a line under it and move on. I was a little late for a meeting. I overslept but it can happen.
Ten Hag added: “Everyone has to abide by the standards and rules. We have to have consequences and that’s what I expect on the pitch. He gave the right answer.
“I was not satisfied with the performance in the first half. We need to be more clinical and we know Rashy can score goals and that’s what he did.
“We’re a team, it’s hard to beat and that’s because we attack with 11 and defend with 11. When you’re off the pitch and you lack standards and rules, that also flows onto the pitch.”
Casemiro’s header was deflected wide before Alejandro Garnacho squandered United’s best chance of the first half when he failed to beat Jose Sa after latching onto Nelson Semedo’s terrible back pass.
Wolves were competitive but United still found openings, with Antony heading to Sa.
Rashford was called up from the bench at the break, but it was Wolves who threatened first when David De Gea turned a superb Ruben Neves free-kick wide.
Yet there was going to be no stopping Rashford scoring the winner with 14 minutes left when he traded passes with Bruno Fernandes, held off Jonny and Nathan Collins and beat Sa.
Only a call from the VAR for handball denied him a second minutes later after the ball hit his arm when Sa parried his early effort.
De Gea still had to fend off Raul Jimenez’s header in added time and Wolves would end the year in the relegation zone.
Julen Lopetegui said after his first home league game: “We are disappointed with the result, we deserved more but I want to underline the conviction and the way they fought against a great team.
“They were thinking and working to beat them. We have to improve but in the end we deserved more.
“They didn’t have any chances in the second half, the game came at a key moment but it was a shame they scored. In the last 15 minutes it was a different game.
“The only way I know to improve is to score more chances and trust the players to score more. I believe in my players.”