Sub Hernandez inspires United’s comeback win
Slap-dash Arsenal held up by Fulham
Half-time substitute Javier Hernandez scored twice and made another as Manchester United came from two goals down to win 3-2 at Aston Villa yesterday and pull four points clear in the Premier League.
A brace of goals from Andreas Weimann looked set to condemn United to their third loss of the season, but Hernandez pulled one back and then set up an own goal by Ron Vlaar before heading home a sensational 87th-minute winner.
The result gives United a four-point lead over second-placed Chelsea, who host Liverpool today, with champions Manchester City a point further back ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit.
“It was an absolutely magnificent result for us,” United coach Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports.
“It was a magnificent game. Aston Villa were fantastic today and you have to feel sorry for them, but we never gave in.
“(Hernandez) does his natural thing. He’s fantastic in the box, with his movement, his quickness, his finding space, and that’s got him the goals today.”
Defeat left Villa fourth from bottom, three points above the relegation places, but they more than held their own in the opening 45 minutes at Villa Park and took the lead in first-half injury time.
Christian Benteke resisted Chris Smalling’s attentions wide on the Villa left before cutting the ball back to Weimann, who placed a first-time shot into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty box.
Hernandez replaced Ashley Young at the interval but Weimann struck again five minutes into the second half, slamming in from close range after Gabriel Agbonlahor got free down the left.
United hit back quickly though, with Hernandez to the fore.
The Mexican finished between Brad Guzan’s legs in the 58th minute to claim his sixth goal in six appearances, before seeing a volley turned home by Villa defender Vlaar to give the away side a 63rd-minute equaliser.
David de Gea denied Weimann a hat-trick with a smart save from the Austrian forward’s header, while Robin van Persie hit the bar twice, before Hernandez capped another trademark United comeback by converting Van Persie’s free-kick.
Earlier, Mikel Arteta saw an injury-time penalty saved as Arsenal’s hopes of a top-four finish faded a little further in an entertaining 3-3 draw at home to Fulham.
The result left Arsene Wenger’s side four points below the Champions League places in seventh position, with three of the teams above them still to play.
Arsenal went 2-0 up inside 23 minutes thanks to a near-post header from Olivier Giroud and a predatory finish from Lukas Podolski, but Fulham levelled through headers from Dimitar Berbatov and substitute Alexander Kacaniklic.
Giroud replied immediately after Berbatov had put Fulham ahead from the penalty spot in the 67th minute, but Arteta’s stoppage-time spot-kick drew a fine save from Mark Schwarzer after Sascha Riether was penalised for handball.
“It is very frustrating, because it’s difficult to score goals but we have to continue to score and of course get defensively better,” Wenger told the BBC.
Everton held on to fourth place by beating Sunderland 2-1, with Marouane Fellaini scoring the equaliser and setting up the winner for Nikica Jelavic after Adam Johnson had put the visitors ahead with a 45th-minute half-volley.
West Bromwich Albion remain level on points with Everton in fifth place after a 2-1 success at Wigan.
James Morrison headed in Chris Brunt’s cross to put the visitors ahead in the 31st minute, with Gary Caldwell’s own goal doubling West Brom’s lead before Arouna Kone replied for Wigan prior to half-time.
Southampton climbed off the foot of the table despite being pegged back by Swansea City in a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium, while third-bottom Reading remain without a win after a 0-0 draw at home to Norwich City.
In the day’s other game, Charlie Adam claimed his first goal for Stoke City to give Tony Pulis’ side a 1-0 win at home to QPR that sent the London club back to the bottom of the table.
Results and standings
Giroud 11, 69; Podolski 23;
Berbatov 29, 67p; Kacaniklic 40;
HT: 2-2. Att: 60,093.
Missed penalty: Arteta (A) 90.
Aston Villa 2
Weimann 45, 50;
Man. United 3
Hernandez 58, 87; Vlaar 63 og;
HT: 1-0. Att: 40,538.
Fellaini 77; Jelavic 79;
HT: 0-1. Att: 35,999.
Norwich City 0
HT: 0-0. Att: 30,501.
Stoke City 1
HT: 0-0. Att: 27,529.
West Brom 2
Morrison 31; Caldwell 43 og;
HT: 1-2. Att: 17,812.
Chelsea vs Liverpool - 17.00
Man. City vs Tottenham - 14.30
Newcastle vs West Ham - 16.00
8 goals: Van Persie (Man. United).
7 goals: Ba (Newcastle), Suarez (Liverpool).
6 goals: Michu (Swansea), Fellaini (Everton).
Saturday: 13.45 Arsenal vs Tottenham. 16.00 Liverpool vs Wigan; Manchester City vs Aston Villa; Newcastle vs Swansea; QPR vs Southampton; Reading vs Everton; West Brom vs Chelsea. 18.30 Norwich vs Manchester United.
Sunday: 17.00 Fulham vs Sunderland.
Monday, Nov. 19: 21.00 West Ham vs Stoke.
Barnsley 0 - Huddersfield 1
Blackburn 1 - Birmingham 1
Blackpool 2 - Bolton 2
Cardiff 2 - Hull City 1
Ipswich 2 - Burnley 1
Leeds 1 - Watford 6
Leicester 2 - N. Forest 2
Millwall 2 - Derby 1
Peterborough 1 - C. Palace 2
Wolves 3 - Brighton 3
Bristol City-Charlton - 16:00
Standings: Crystal Palace 33; Middlesbrough 32; Cardiff City 31; Hull 28; Leicester, Huddersfield 27; Black-burn 25; Brighton 24; Derby, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Burnley 23; Blackpool, Wolves 22; Bolton, Leeds, Birmingham 20; Charlton 17; Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley 15; Ipswich 13; Peterborough 12; Bristol City 11.
Brentford 2 - Carlisle 1
Bury 2 - Portsmouth 0
Coventry 1 - Scunthorpe 2
Crewe 3 - Colchester 2
Doncaster 0 - Bournemouth 1
L. Orient 2 - Shrewsbury 1
MK Dons 1 - Sheffield Utd 0
Notts County 1 - Crawley 1
Oldham 0 - Tranmere 1
Stevenage 1 - Preston 4
Walsall 0 - Swindon 2
Yeovil 1 - Hartlepool 0
Standings: Tranmere 37; Sheffield Utd, Stevenage 32; Crawley 30; N. County, Swindon, MK Dons 29; Brentford 28; Doncaster 27; Preston 26; Yeovil 25; Bournemouth 24; Crewe 23; Colchester, Carlisle 20; L. Orient, Walsall 19; Portsmouth 18; Oldham, Coventry 17; Scunthorpe 16; Bury 15; Shrewsbury 14; Hartlepool 8.
Accrington 2 - Northampton 4
Aldershot 0 - Bradford City 2
Bristol Rovers 3 - Chesterfield 2
Cheltenham 1 - Burton 0
Dagenham 5 - Rotherham 0
Exeter 2 - Fleetwood 2
Morecambe 4 - Barnet 1
Oxford 0 - Torquay 0
Plymouth 2 - Gillingham 2
Southend 0 - Port Vale 0
Wycombe 1 - Rochdale 2
York 0 - AFC Wimbledon 3
Standings: Gillingham 37; Port Vale, Cheltenham 32; Bradford, Fleetwood 28; Rochdale 27; Burton 26; Torquay, Rotherham 25; Exeter 24; Southend, Northampton, York 23; Dagenham, Morecambe 22; Accrington 21; Oxford 20; Chesterfield 19; Plymouth 18; Bristol Rovers, Wimbledon 17; Wycombe, Barnet, Aldershot 13.