Premier League - Hernandez double downs Stoke
Sun, 24 Oct 15:29:00 2010
Javier Hernandez fired Manchester United to their first away win of the season in the Premier League as they beat Stoke City 2-1 at the Britannia Stadium.
Hernandez put United in front with an audacious backwards header that beat Thomas Sorensen on 27 minutes as United resumed normal business following the very public way in which Wayne Rooney's new contract was agreed.
However, their on-pitch travails looked to be brought back into sharp focus when substitute Tuncay Sanli scored a stunning goal with 10 minutes remaining - only for Hernandez to pounce to score a tap-in that ensured United will finish the weekend back in the Champions League places.
Rooney, currently ruled out for three weeks with an ankle injury, is in Dubai celebrating his 25th birthday, but the goalscoring exploits of 'Chicharito' - as well as his badge-kissing celebration - have given United fans a teasing glimpse of what the future may hold.
Nani played a short corner with Patrice Evra and chipped in the return pass. Nemanja Vidic headed the cross back across goal and the young Mexican showed incredible agility to power his effort past Sorensen with the back of his head for his fourth goal in nine United appearances.
Gary Neville's return to the starting line-up was one of several changes made by United manager Alex Ferguson following the midweek win over Bursaspor in the Champions League. It was his 600th appearance for his one and only club.
The 35-year-old may have faced many of the world's greatest players during his long career, but Stoke's ever-impressive Matthew Etherington was enough of a challenge for him in this match.
Twice Neville went in on the winger with late challenges, one of which earned him a booking while the other incurred leniency from referee Andre Marriner, if not the vociferous home crowd. He was replaced by Wes Brown at half-time, but only after he had come out on to the pitch after the break.
Stoke saw plenty of the ball, but the closest they came to scoring in the first half was when Rory Delap's effort from long distance swerved wide of the open goal after Edwin van der Sar had made a clearance from near the corner flag.
Hernandez almost scored another unorthodox goal when he charged down Thomas Sorensen's clearance, only to see the rebound go over the bar, before Evra headed over from a corner just before the end of the half.
For all Stoke's endeavour they continued to struggle to create chances after the break, with the front pairing of Kenwyne Jones and Jon Walters unable to match their work rate with their finishing.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis responded by bringing on Tuncay, the man who made his name with a hat-trick against United for Fenerbahce back in 2004.
The Turkish forward has fallen out of favour with Pulis, but he may see his first-team chances boosted after he cut in from the right and curled a wonderful strike over Van der Sar and into the far top corner to give the Potters hope of a rare point against a 'big four' side.
But it was not to be as five minutes later Evra swivelled inside the area before firing a low ball across the box that Hernandez turned past Sorensen from close range.
Nani almost added gloss to the result in stoppage time when he forced a top-drawer save from Sorensen, the Dane tipping the long-range strike around the upright.Tony Mabert / Eurosport