Marcus Rashford took the naughty step and came off the bench to lead Manchester United to the top four.
The striker, who was benched by manager Erik ten Haf due to disciplinary issues, scored his 11th goal of the season to help United move into the top four with a 1-0 victory.
Alejandro Garnacho missed a great opportunity earlier on, and David De Gea saved Ruben Neves’ incredible free-kick at the other end.
United has now lost only one of their last 15 games since being humiliated 6-3 by local rivals Manchester City in October. Ten Had has had an impact at Old Trafford both on and off the field.
Prior to kickoff, the Dutch manager stated that Rashford had been benched for inernal disciplinary reasons.
And when questioned further, he said that it was only “our rules” and refused to provide any other information.
Rashford however revealed after the game that it was a time-keeping issue.
“Obviously it’s team rules. I made a mistake. That can happen. I’m obviously disappointed not to play but I understand the decision and I’m happy we managed to win anyway,” Rashford told BT Sport.
“We draw a line under it and move on. I was a little bit late for a meeting. I overslept but it can happen.”
It was Ten Hag’s bold choice and it ultimately paid off.
United came up against a spirited Wolves team that was hoping to finish 2023 in the bottom three but avoid the relegation zone for the first time in two months.
Lopetegui has still chances of avoiding the drop as there are still reasons to be hopeful because the hosts were fighting hard.
United could have taken the lead earlier on when Casemiro’s glancing header went off Matheus Nunes, but Wolves adjusted and enjoyed much of the ball without troubling De Gea.
The hosts looked threatening on the break, but that served as a warning as United worked the ball with more purpose after De Gea saved Costa’s feeble attempt after Nunes’ break.
The visitors had obvious confidence but Wolves were recovering theirs after their crucial Boxing Day win over Everton.
Their determination to maintain their developing momentum was shown by a magnificent block from Nathan Collins as Antony Martial attempted to pounce on.
Wolves have to increase their goal scoring if they want to survive the drop, they have scored just 10 goals this season.
Despite adding Matheus Cunha on loan from Atletico to their ranks, Wolves hardly seemed like they would be able to overcome De Gea.
In the contrary, United continued to create better chances as Martial headed straight at Sa, eight minutes before the break.
Lopetegui then saw it wise to introduce Adama Traore at the break for Diego Costa. The Spain winger added some urgency to the game, but it was Neves who came close in the 57th minute.
In the last quarter of the game, Rashford took possession of the ball on theleft before exchanging one-two passes with Bruno Fernandez whole cutting inside. Even while there was still mich to do, the England striker pushed past Jonny and Collins to put the ball past Sa.
Rashford believed he had grabbed a brace soon after, but the goal was disallowed because the striker handled the ball.
The home team pushed for an equalizer at injury time and De Gea was once again called into action to stop Raul Jimenez’s header.
United defender Luke Shaw, who stood in for Lisandro Martinez at the heart of the defence told BT Sports that the team valued discipline.
“I think at a top club like this (there has to be discipline). People can’t do whatever they want. Maybe that’s been part of the problem in the past, people getting away with little things.
“The manager takes all of that into consideration and we’ve seen if you’re not keeping high you won’t play.”