Manchester United scored twice in two minutes late in the second half to secure an important 3-2 victory at home to Stoke City on Saturday in the Premier League. Trailing 2-1 for much of the second half and staring down a fourth league defeat of the young season, United turned the match around via quick-fire goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez.
Stoke, who had scored just once in their last five matches, led twice through goals by Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic. Robin van Persie scored United's other goal.
With legendary former manager Sir Alex Ferguson watching from the stands, United got off to another shaky start under first-year boss David Moyes. Stoke punished United's sloppy defense with a direct attack focused on the imposing physical frame of Crouch.
Chasing their first win at Old Trafford since 1976, Stoke got off to a dream start. In the fourth minute, Erik Pieters glided past three United defenders and crossed for Crouch, who forced a fine save out of David De Gea with his initial shot.
But with Crouch prone on the pitch, the Stoke man poked in the rebound for a shocking early Stoke lead.
United pushed for an equalizer straight away, but Stoke came close again 10 minutes later, once more through Crouch. Rooney served as United's main attacking outlet throughout the first half, and it was no surprise that he was involved when the hosts equalized in the 43rd minute.
Nani found space on the right and crossed to the back post, where Rooney's header forced a save out of Asmir Begovic. The rebound fell to Van Persie, who powered home a first-time volley to make it 1-1.
But United were level for only moments. In the 45th minute, Arnautovic curled in a fine free kick from the edge of the box to give Stoke a 2-1 lead at half-time.
After the break, Moyes brought on 18-year-old starlet Adnan Januzaj, along with Hernandez and Antonio Valencia, in an effort to turn the match around. But the equalizer came from a familiar source—two reliable attackers already on the pitch.
In the 78th minute, Van Persie hit a driven corner toward the near post, where Rooney slipped his marker before flicking a header into the net at the back post. Stoke were stunned, but United weren't finished.
Just two minutes later, Patrice Evra crossed from deep on the left, finding an unmarked Hernandez at the back post. Hernandez powered in his header to give the champions a 3-2 lead they would not surrender.
The relief was palpable at Old Trafford. For Moyes, the result could become a turning point in what has been an unexpectedly difficult start to life at United.
"I was worried it wouldn't come—especially when we were 2-1 down," Moyes said, per PremierLeague.com. "But I think we deserved it in the end. We kept at it and deserved to score."
Of the 2 big Moyes question marks: tactics + substitutions; he nailed the latter today #MUFC— Full Time DEVILS (@FullTimeDEVILS) October 26, 2013
Man United are still unbeaten when Rooney, RVP and Kagawa have started together.— Squawka Dave (@SquawkaDave) October 26, 2013
|David De Gea||B|
|Robin van Persie||B|
|Charlie Adam||No rating|
Manchester United host Norwich on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup, then visit Fulham next Saturday in the Premier League.
Stoke visit Birmingham on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup, then host Southampton next Saturday in the Premier League.