Hull City 1-3 Manchester United
Wayne Rooney rescued Manchester United in their 3-1 win at Hull
after almost playing the champions into trouble at The KC Stadium
Rooney gave United the lead in first-half stoppage time but
gifted Hull a route back with the mistake that led to Craig Fagan’s
penalty equaliser. The England striker then stepped up a gear to
force an own goal from Andy Dawson and then set up a third for
strike partner Dimitar Berbatov.
The hard-fought victory lifted United back above Arsenal into
second and within two points of leaders Chelsea.
It was also United’s first encounter with Alan Wiley since
manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s outspoken attack on the referee in
October, when he claimed the official was unfit. On this occasion
United could complain little about Wiley’s decisions, and were
perhaps lucky not to see Patrice Evra sent off in the second half.
After last week’s injury-influenced debacle at Fulham, United
welcomed back a trio of defenders in Rafael da Silva, Wes Brown and
Nemanja Vidic. That gave United a much more familiar look as Darren
Fletcher and Michael Carrick returned to midfield roles while Ryan
Giggs and Berbatov also came back the champions.
United started patiently but burst into life after five
minutes as Antonio Valencia charged down the right. The Ecuador
international picked out Giggs with a well-flighted cross but the
Welshman’s volley dipped just over Boaz Myhill’s bar.
Giggs was then inches away from scoring from a 16th-minute
free-kick after Rooney went down under a Kamil Zayatte challenge.
Hull weathered that storm and appealed for a penalty after making a
rare break but Brown’s challenge as Richard Garcia raced onto a
Fagan ball was deemed fair.
Seyi Olofinjana tried his luck from long range for Hull but
Tomasz Kuszczak was not troubled. Rooney went close again for
United as Hull waited in vain for an offside flag, forcing Myhill
to palm over with a stinging shot.
Hull were unlucky not to take the lead after piecing together
a brilliant move in the 28th minute. Garcia began the attack with a
weaving run before finding Fagan out wide. Fagan’s perfect cross
was met on the volley by Olofinjana on the six-yard line but
Kuszczak saved to his right.
Hull survived a real scare when Myhill sliced a clearance but
Giggs and Rooney were unable to take advantage of an unexpected
The Tigers spurned another good opportunity as Olofinjana
found Stephen Hunt on the left but the Irishman shot tamely across
Rafael then beat the offside trap at the end of an intricate
move on the edge of the Hull box but Myhill saved brilliantly from
Pressure finally paid off as Hull failed to clear a Fletcher
cross and Rooney tapped in from close range during two minutes of
United were relieved but Rooney turned villain with a
horrendous error just before the hour. Rooney played Kuszczak into
trouble with a weak backpass and Fagan nipped in to win the ball.
Fagan’s touch took it too wide to shoot but he turned and lofted in
a cross for Jozy Altidore, who was bundled over by the backtracking
Rafael. Wiley pointed to the spot and Fagan, taking over
spot-kicking duties, stepped up to coolly slot an equaliser.
United almost reclaimed the lead moments later as Brown rose
to meet a corner but Myhill clawed the ball away from under his bar
as Rooney threatened.
Hull went close from their own corner as Garcia met a Hunt
cross but his header flashed across goal.
Evra, booked in the first half, was fortunate to escape a
second yellow card for holding back Fagan as Hull tried to launch
Rooney then redeemed himself by forcing the own goal that put
United back in front after 73 minutes. Hull were caught as United
broke from deep and Giggs put Rooney through. The angle was a tight
one but Hull could not get back quickly enough and Rooney’s cross
was turned in by Dawson.
There was no way back for Hull and Berbatov finished the job
eight minutes from time, although he owed much to Rooney. The
England man was allowed to stroll into the area from halfway as
Hull reacted slowly to a long Vidic header and then picked out
Berbatov at the far post with a measured ball.
The Bulgarian had a simple task to slide home. Hull showed
spirit as Bernard Mendy and Fagan shot wide and their performance
should offer encouragement for Tuesday’s crunch clash at Bolton.