Man United fights back to beat Stoke 3-2 in EPL

Substitute Javier Hernandez completed Manchester United’s

second-half comeback against Stoke on Saturday, securing a 3-2

victory for the Premier League champions.

Peter Crouch stunned Old Trafford with a goal after four minutes

and, although United striker Robin van Persie equalized in the 43rd

minute, Marko Arnautovic restored Stoke’s lead on the stroke of

half time from a free kick.

Wayne Rooney drew United level again in the 78th when he headed

in Van Persie’s corner, and Hernandez nodded the hosts in front two

minutes later.

United provisionally remains in eighth place – eight points

behind leader Arsenal.

But for the fine goalkeeping of David De Gea, Stoke could have

gone further ahead in a first half in which United was nervous and

guilty of a series of uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.

The first came after four minutes. Stoke left back Erik Pieters

took advantage of too much space afforded him on his favored flank,

beating Chris Smalling to cross for Crouch, who bundled the ball

past De Gea at the second attempt.

Mark Hughes’ men continued to counterattack with purpose, and

went close to adding a barely believable second goal after 13

minutes when Crouch beat Jonny Evans to reach Jonathan Walters’

cross from the Stoke right, but spooned over the bar from close

range.

Inevitably Van Persie was at the forefront of United’s attempted

fightback, twice finding dangerous balls into the box blocked by

the impressive Robert Huth, while Rooney, anonymous for the first

20 minutes, drilled a speculative shot wide from long range.

The visitors went close again when Crouch nodded a fine ball

forward from Steven Nzonzi into the path of the unmarked Walters,

whose shot from eight yards was brilliantly saved by De Gea.

Nani was not far away at the other end but a second wasted

opportunity from the Portugal winger sent the first boos of

frustration ringing round Old Trafford.

Taking full advantage of United’s fragile back-line, Stoke

continued to ooze confidence and De Gea had to be on hand again to

save a low shot from Arnautovic just past the half-hour mark.

United’s next chance fell to Rooney, who twisted a powerful

effort from outside the box which was tipped over by Asmir Begovic,

matching the heroics of his opposite number.

The champions finally drew level two minutes before the break

when Rooney’s header from Patrice Evra’s cross was kept out by

Begovic but the Bosnia goalkeeper could only flap the ball into the

path of Van Persie, who buried it from 10 yards.

As if to underline their fearlessness, Stoke responded by going

straight up the other end and restoring their lead within a minute,

Arnautovic sending a delicious 30-yard free kick into the top

corner after being fouled by Smalling.

After the first-half excitement, the game calmed down at the

start of the second, with Stoke understandably sitting deeper and

largely coping with what United could throw at them, including Van

Persie’s free kick that hit the wall from a dangerous position.

Jonathan Walters mis-hit a good opportunity for Stoke after a

cross from the left by substitute Marc Wilson, and as home

frustration grew Hernandez was booked for a bad challenge on

Huth.

It fell to Rooney to ease that frustration 12 minutes from time

when he applied the deftest of flicks to Van Persie’s corner to

draw United level, and Hernandez sealed United’s quick-fire

comeback by heading the winner two minutes later.