x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 3

Trailing three times against Newcastle, Sir Alex Ferguson's side never says never and, with late goals from Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez, finally snatch the lead at the 90th minute.

Manchester United's Javier Hernandez, stepping for an injured Wayne Rooney, provided the winner past Newcastle United's goalkeeper Tim Krul.
Manchester United's Javier Hernandez, stepping for an injured Wayne Rooney, provided the winner past Newcastle United's goalkeeper Tim Krul.

Manchester // Nobody does it better. Indeed, very few need to. But Manchester United, the team who specialise in mounting comebacks, pulled off one of their finest.

They trailed three times to Newcastle, were behind for 54 minutes and did not lead until the clock was showing 90 minutes.

Yet they departed with an improbable victory as a seven-goal thriller, coupled with Manchester City's defeat at Sunderland, left United with a seven-point advantage at the Premier League summit.

They have taken 24 points already from losing positions.

A side who have conceded first on 11 occasions in the league have fought back to win on eight of them.

"It tells you about the courage of our team," Sir Alex Ferguson said. "We never gave in."

A specialist in late goals, Javier Hernandez is the microcosm of United.

As the game entered added time, he turned match winner, sweeping in Michael Carrick's cross to send the Old Trafford crowd home overjoyed after a largely underwhelming performance.

Yet United were at their best when it mattered most.

"We improved enormously after the break," Ferguson added.

They launched attack after attack in the final 20 minutes with Robin van Persie, another who delivers invaluable goals, levelling the scores at 3-3 at the second attempt after Tim Krul had parried his initial shot.

Newcastle came cruelly close to a winner, too.

"I thought the key moment was Sammy Ameobi striking the post," said Alan Pardew, whose substitute hit the post at 3-3.

In addition to their three goals, Sylvain Marveaux had hit the bar earlier as well.

Yet while United had the more high-profile absentees, Newcastle were the depleted and ultimately defeated team.

Shorn of their first-choice midfield, they nevertheless shocked Old Trafford by leading time and again.

For the 16th time already this season, Manchester United conceded a game's opening goal.

After Hernandez, deputising for Wayne Rooney whose knee injury could keep him out for three weeks, gave the ball away and David de Gea parried Demba Ba's shot, James Perch opened his Newcastle account.

That was an unusual occurrence. It was typical of a barely credible game that Jonny Evans struck twice in four minutes, once at each end.

The first was the simpler, scoring after Krul saved Hernandez's shot. Then Evans deflected the former United defender Danny Simpson's cross into his own net.

It was initially disallowed until the referee Mike Dean rightly ruled that the offside Papiss Cisse did not get a touch. It led to a half-time outburst by Ferguson at Dean, linesman Jake Collin and fourth official Neil Swarbrick.

"I think it is a bad decision," said a calmer Ferguson after the final whistle. Pardew said: "I thought it was an own goal and it doesn't matter if anyone's 20 yards offside. I can't see a problem with it."

After Ferguson's rant, his side rallied. Patrice Evra's second goal in as many games was drilled in before Cisse's emphatic finish from a Gabriel Obertan cross put Newcastle on what appeared the brink of a first win at Old Trafford since 1972.

Yet it was not to be.

Hernandez ensured the comebacks kings sit more comfortably on their throne.



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