Hernandez keeps head to score
Thu, 27 Dec 2012 10:03:00
Davide Santon admitted Newcastle United let slip a "big chance" after losing the lead three times in a last-gasp 4-3 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.
Alan Pardew's side took the game to the league leaders on their home turf but were unable to keep it tight at the back and eventually succumbed to a 90th-minute winner from Javier Hernandez.
Santon revealed the visitors went into the game with new-found confidence after their win over Queens Park Rangers last weekend and were disappointed not to have taken advantage of it.
He told the club's official website: "We had a really big chance to win this game, but the last 10 minutes were good for Manchester United and they won, while we come back to Newcastle with zero points.
"I think people thought Newcastle would go to Manchester United and come back with zero points, but we really had a chance to win the game.
"We were confident because last week we won against QPR, so when you win, for the next game you always have confidence. You have a winning mentality.
"Today was like that. We came here to get the result, but in the final minutes we were beaten and we are really disappointed because we should have won."
Despite the defeat, Santon insisted that Newcastle could take heart from their performance ahead of another tough away trip on Saturday, against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.
The Italian defender said: "It is a really sad day but now we have to think about the next game.
"We are disappointed but I think we can still go into the next game against Arsenal with the mentality to win.
"If we play the same as we did [against United] - especially in the first half - we can win the game.
"We will go with a winning mentality and I think we can win the game."
With Wayne Rooney ruled out through injury and Danny Welbeck consigned to his sick bed, Hernandez was handed striking responsibilities for the Boxing Day encounter with Newcastle at Old Trafford.
It looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the Mexican, who failed to convert two clear chances to give United a priceless victory.
However, his luck changed in the final minute when he beat the Newcastle offside trap to reach Michael Carrick's cross and seal a dramatic 4-3 win with his 10th goal of the season.
And Hernandez knows it would not have been possible had he let those earlier failures bother him.
"I didn't have those things in my mind," he said.
"You cannot afford to regret every chance you miss because if you do you will never be concentrated for the next opportunity.
"You are never going to play the perfect game. You will never score five goals from five opportunities.
"That is the beauty of football.
"The most important thing was the win because here there are no heroes.
"It doesn't matter if I score in the last minute or we score four goals. We won and Manchester City lost. That is very good news."
Hernandez is having to be patient, though.
Now into his third season at Old Trafford, the 24-year-old has rediscovered the form that earned him a Champions League starting berth and 20 goals in his first.
Hernandez has now moved onto double figures for the season, yet Robin van Persie's arrival means those coveted spots in Sir Alex Ferguson's team are harder to come by.
Periodically, there are rumours of interest from Real Madrid, which are bound to be head-turning to an extent given his background.
Yet, for now at least, Hernandez is content with his lot.
"Ask any player in the world and they will tell you they want to play every game," he said.
"But the competition here is incredible.
"It is the biggest club in the world. You need to be aware there are five strikers who want to be part of the games.
"I have to prove, in one minute or 90, that I want to start."
The sight of Shinji Kagawa doing his own fitness work prior to kick-off adds another dimension for Ferguson's selection poser.
But the main one is Van Persie, who took his tally to 16 on Wednesday, and whom has made such a massive impact since his ?24million move from Arsenal.
"I am reluctant to subscribe to the cult of an individual because I firmly believe that the essence of a successful football team depends on teamwork," Ferguson told United Review.
"But sometimes there really is a situation when you are lucky enough to find the last piece in the jigsaw.
"We did it when we brought Eric Cantona to Old Trafford and it doesn't have to be signing someone for a record fee.
"But I have no hesitation saying that he has made a vital difference."
And, as Ferguson pointed out, it is not just the goals that make Van Persie such a stand-out performer.
"Going into the holiday programme he had scored 15 times and with Wayne Rooney back among the goals we have a deadly duo," said Ferguson.
"I have also lost count of our Dutchman's assists.
"It is quite remarkable how quickly he has settled at Old Trafford.
"It helped that he relished the move to Manchester and he is the consummate professional.
"He has a good lifestyle with a great sense of responsibility. For instance, I have noticed the way he will speak to young players and encourage them.
"That attitude is a real bonus for us. There is no doubt he has moved us forward as a team."