Hernandez seals United comeback
Premier League round-up:Manchester United staged a dramatic comeback at Aston Villa to win 3-2 and move four points clear at the Barclays Premier League summit. United looked in serious danger of slumping to their third defeat of the season when Andreas Weimann’s second goal of the evening handed Villa a 2-0 lead after 50 minutes.
Alex Ferguson’s decision to introduce Javier Hernandez for former Villa winger Ashley Young at half-time proved to be inspired, and decided a game in which former Shamrock Rovers full-back Enda Stevens made his debut for the homeside.
The Mexico international pulled one back with a neat finish and then another shot from Hernandez was deflected in by Villa defender Ron Vlaar for an own goal. And it was Hernandez who grabbed the 87th-minute winner when he headed in Robin van Persie’s inswinging free-kick.
United extended their lead at the summit over Chelsea, who host Liverpool tomorrow, with defending champions Manchester City a further point adrift. Roberto Mancini’s men take on Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow lunchtime.
"It was a magnificent result and a magnificent game,” said Ferguson afterwards. “Villa did fantastic today, they ran their socks off. We have to feel for them but we never gave in. We hit the bar twice but it was after the second goal we came alive, and it was a fantastic game.
“I was disappointed to go behind like that, but I started to think about (how) if we got a goal we would have a chance, and we did. We did put pressure on ourselves today but we came through it. The lesson is we need to do better defensively.
“I admire the tenacity of the performance, though. When they need to do it, they do it.”
Defeat leaves Villa just one place above the bottom three and with two wins to their name this season, but manager Paul Lambert refused to lay the blame with his players, despite them letting slip a two-goal advantage today.
“We gave it absolutely everything, we were brilliant,” he said on Sky Sports 2. “I can’t fault the team. We’ve got lots of young lads in the team and they were great. I can’t ask for any more from them.”
Arsenalsquandered a 2-0 lead for the second time in five days and missed an injury-time penalty as Fulhamclaimed a 3-3 draw at the Emirates.
The Gunners, who were held by Schalke in Gelsenkirchen in the Champions League on Tuesday night after opening up a two-goal cushion, went ahead through Olivier Giroud’s header from a Theo Walcott corner and doubled their advantage when Lukas Podolski swept home Mikel Arteta’s centre.
But Fulham pulled one back after 29 minutes as an unmarked Dimitar Berbatov nodded in Bryan Ruiz’s corner from inside the six-yard box and they equalised when Berbatov’s cross from the right was headed in by substitute Alex Kacaniklic.
The Cottagers took the lead for the first time when Arteta dragged down Ruiz in the area and Berbatov stroked home a 67th-minute spot-kick. But the visitors’ joy was shortlived as Giroud, having placed his first effort against the post, reacted well to head in Walcott’s subsequent cross.