MANCHESTER // It is rare for any team to come away from Old Trafford with three goals, let alone leave with nothing to show for their efforts. But this tale of the unexpected was exactly what happened to Premier League newcomers Hull City who gave Manchester United a late fright with a stirring comeback from 4-1 down to finish 4-3 on Saturday.
While United dominated the match, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring two but wasting a handful of other chances along with Dimitar Berbatov, the manager Sir Alex Ferguson was far from happy. "Incredible. You nearly score 10 and you end up scrambling for a victory," said a frustrated Ferguson. "You have to give credit to Hull, they don't give in. They've had two chances and managed to score three goals. It's quite amazing."
Chelsea were the last club to score three at Old Trafford in the Premier League when they won 3-1 in May 2005. "To score three goals at Old Trafford gives me a sense of satisfaction," Phil Brown, the Hull manager, said. "But that we got nothing from the game doesn't." Hull's extraordinary start to their first top-flight campaign meant they started the day two points above United. But after a 3-0 loss to leaders Chelsea on Wednesday, Hull looked to be heading for an even heavier defeat against United when they trailed 4-1 with Ronaldo's double backed up by strikes from Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic.
"When it goes to 4-1, you tend to close your eyes," Brown said. "But I've got to give the players a lot of credit for the last 20-25 minutes and the way we threw everything at them." A Daniel Cousin header cancelled out Ronaldo's early goal and then the Tigers pulled back to 4-2 through Bernand Mendy and 4-3 with an 81st-minute penalty from Geovanni before Ferguson and United clinched their 400th victory in the Premier League.
Ferguson said "Not taking chances is the annoying thing - we should have scored 10 or 11. But you fritter them away and you're left almost embarrassed. "We had some fantastic chances and played some great football at times, and just got ourselves in an embarrassing situation, that's all. Our tactics were right, everything we planned about the game was correct, but you've got to give them credit because they never give in."