Manch­ester United fight back to beat Villa 3-2

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

BIRM­ING­HAM

Javier Her­nan­dez's dou­ble in­spired Manch­ester United's come­back against As­ton Villa, with a 3-2 vic­tory ex­tend­ing the team's pro­vi­sional lead to four points at the top of the English Premier League

Villa stunned United by tak­ing a two-goal lead through An­dreas Weimann in the space of five min­utes ei­ther side of half­time.

But Her­nan­dez turned the game on its head by scor­ing United's first goal, see­ing his shot de­flect off Villa skip­per Ron Vlaar for the equaliser, and then head­ing the win­ner in the 88th off Robin van Per­sie's in­swing­ing free kick.

United had looked in seri- ous dan­ger of slump­ing to its third league de­feat when Villa moved 2-0 ahead with 40 min­utes left. But United man­ager Alex Fer­gu­son's de­ci­sion to in­tro­duce Javier Her­nan­dez for for­mer Villa winger Ash­ley Young at half­time proved to be in­spired. United ex­tended its lead at the top over Chelsea, which hosts Liver­pool on Sun­day, with an­other of its fa­mous fight­backs, tak­ing its goal tally to 29 in 11 league games. But Fer­gu­son will be con­cerned that United again looked sus­pect de­fen­sively against a Villa side which had scored only eight times in the pre­vi­ous 10 league games.

A su­perb strike from Weimann put Villa ahead in first-half stop­page time. Weimann re­leased Chris­tian Ben­teke, who shrugged off the chal­lenge of Chris Smalling be­fore spot­ting the run into the box of the Aus­trian. Weimann's ris­ing first-time shot from just inside the box flew past United goal­keeper David de Gea into the roof of the net.

Shortly af­ter the break it got worse for United when Ben­teke's step-over dummy al­lowed Ash­ley West­wood's pass to find its way to Stephen Ire­land, who re­leased the over­lap­ping Gabriel Ag­bon­la­hor. The Eng­land striker's pre­cise ball across the box was smashed home by Weimann at close range.

United re­duced the ar­rears af­ter 58 min­utes when Her­nan­dez took a flighted pass from Paul Sc­holes and slipped the ball past Villa 'keeper Brad Guzan.

Af­ter 63 min­utes an own goal from Vlaar brought United level. Her­nan­dez was again in­volved as he got on the end of Rafael's cross but his shot de­flected off Vlaar past Guzan into the net.

The wood­work twice came to Villa's res­cue in the space of 30 sec­onds with An­to­nio Va­len­cia's header and Van Per­sie's dip­ping shot hit­ting the cross­bar. Wayne Rooney picked up a knock and was re­placed with 10 min­utes left as United pressed for the win­ner. It fi­nally ar­rived in the 88th when Her­nan­dez stooped down to head home Van Per­sie's free kick.

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