Manchester United come off the ropes at Hull to claim full festive points
Chester bookends scoring but second one, unfortunately, gift-wraps game for visitors
This meant United were two behind against the Premier League’s meanest home defence. Steve Bruce’s side had allowed only three all term but this was about to change.
For this Moyes could thank the blessing in disguise that resulted from Rafael Da Silva hobbling off on 18 minutes, although he seems sure to miss Saturday’s trip to Norwich City. Antonio Valencia dropped into his right back’s berth and on came Adnan Januzaj. Moyes’s introduction of the youngster to the first team has arguably been the best move of the Scot’s nascent career at the club and a minute later Januzaj once more illustrated why.
The 18-year-old sped down United’s right and drew a foul from Maynor Figueroa from which his side would pull a goal back. Rooney, out of sorts until this point, placed the free-kick perfectly on to Chris Smalling’s head and he beat McGregor to secure his first league goal of the season.
This warm-up act from Rooney was followed by a scintillating main event – when the ball came to him from a Danny Welbeck chest-down, the Liverpudlian creamed a 25-yard volley past the hapless McGregor.
‘One of my best’
“I haven’t seen it back yet but it was one of my best,” said Rooney. “It bounced kindly for me.”
At the break each manager might have asked his team to tighten their rearguard while maintaining the attacking stuff. If so, United were first to adhere when slick interplay from Rooney and Januzaj threatened to give the visitors the lead.
Hull’s response came when Danny Graham fed Yannick Sagbo, who warmed De Gea’s fingers with a 20-yard attempt that went for a corner. Here again United’s vulnerability under the high ball was evident as Huddlestone’s corner was met by Curtis Davies, but he flashed his header wide.
Huddlestone then saw an effort of his own deflected wide by Evra before Hull suffered a dose of bad luck when Bruce’s header crashed back off the bar from the ensuing corner.
Chester’s second – and unwanted – strike of the contest was about to send United home happy, though the sight of Valencia being sent off for a second yellow card after a clash with Huddlestone will not have pleased Moyes.
It left the home manager thinking what might have been. “Go home, kick the cat, have a glass of red,” was Bruce’s verdict. –