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Javier Hernandez completed Manchester United's late second-half comeback to earn a 3-2 victory over Stoke City at Old Trafford.
David Moyes' men looked to be heading for a third straight home match without victory in the Barclays Premier League after Crouch toe-poked Stoke ahead after four minutes. Robin van Persie fired home a rebound from Wayne Rooney's header shortly before the interval, but Stoke's Marko Arnautovic scored his first Premier League goal from a free-kick moments after van Persie's equaliser to give the away side an unlikely half-time lead. '
However, the home side turned the match around with headers from Rooney and Hernandez within three minutes late in the second half to secure a home victory for United and ensure the visitors are still looking for their first Premier League victory over United.
Van Persie returned from a toe injury that kept him out of Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad on Wednesday, while former United striker Mark Hughes brought in Crouch to lead Stoke's attack.
Stoke started ther match brightly and the Potters were rewarded with the opener in just the fourth minute. Erik Pieters burst through three challenges before crossing from the left and Crouch's initial shot was saved at point-blank range by David de Gea, but Jonny Evans' attempted clearance rebounded off the striker and into the net.
United were nearly punished further when Crouch hit a first-time volley at full stretch that narrowly cleared the crossbar, and Stoke came even closer when Jonathan Walters's half-volley from 12 yards drew a smart save from De Gea.
United's attacking talent mustered an equaliser three minutes before the break, when Rooney's back-post header was well saved by Asmir Begovic and Van Persie was on hand to fire in the rebound.
However, Stoke immediately restored their lead when Arnautovic curled a sublime free-kick from the left that hit the bar and bounced into the goal with De Gea scrambling to attempt to make the save.
United upped the intensity after the break but only had blocked efforts from Rooney and Van Persie to show for their efforts.
Defensive confusion nearly led to Walters breaking clear in the 64th minute, but De Gea sprinted 40 yards off his line to make a vital interception.
Rooney restored parity in the 78th minute when he lost his marker to head home from Van Persie's corner.
And the home fans were once again on their feet with 10 minutes remaining when good work from Patrice Evra on the left led to the Frenchman hanging up a cross and Hernandez adding the header from six yards.
The win is United's second in the league this season, while Stoke's winless run in the top flight extended to six matches.
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "It was a big challenge to make sure we won the game but we did it. We showed great energy after the midweek game against Real Sociedad to go until the end.
"Stoke have not scored many but they have not conceded many either, so we knew we would have to work hard after going behind.
"I was worried it wouldn't come - especially when we were 2-1 down. But I think we deserved it in the end. We kept at it and deserved to score."
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes: “We’re desperately disappointed not to take something out of the game today. The performance from my players was fantastic today. We had a game plan we’d worked on all week in terms of being positive.
“We needed to be nice and solid which we were and in the first half we should have been three or four-one to the good because United hadn’t created much in open play apart from the goal that they got. I just felt we always looked dangerous on the break and had clear cut chances that on another day we would have taken.
“In the second half we played well again, although we probably lost the ability to carry the ball into the opposition’s half when Marko Arnautovic went off [injured]. We kept going and in the end I thought we were going to see it out.
“I thought we contributed really well to a good game and I don’t think anybody would have begrudged us the three points, let alone one. In the end we got none.”
|12 Feb 2014||v Arsenal (A)|
|09 Feb 2014||v Fulham (H)|
|25 Mar 2014||v Man City (H)|
|01 Feb 2014||v Stoke (A)|
|26 Dec 2013||v Hull (A)|
|02 Nov 2013||v Fulham (A)|