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Javier Hernandez's goal in the 90th minute gave Manchester United a potentially vital 4-3 win over Newcastle United on Wednesday to give them a seven-point Barclays Premier League lead. The Mexico forward slid in to meet Michael Carrick's right-wing cross with two seconds left on the clock to break the hearts of a Newcastle United side who had dreamt of a famous win on at least three occasions during a pulsating game.
Jonny Evans scored at each end after James Perch had claimed an early opening goal for Alan Pardew's team, who came to Manchester without an away league victory this season. Patrice Evra equalised for the home team, as did Robin van Persie, after Papiss Cisse had shot Newcastle into the lead for the third, and final, time.
Substitute Samuel Ameobi might have handed the visitors the lead for a fourth time, hitting a post with an 85th-minute shot.
Newcastle had taken just four minutes to go into the lead. Demba Ba sent in a low, hard shot that David De Gea kept out, but Perch had the simple task of driving the ball into the net.
With Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck absent, through injury and illness respectively, United struggled to carve out a meaningful chance prior to their equaliser on 25 minutes. Van Persie's left-wing free-kick was helped into the area by Ryan Giggs, passing through a mass of bodies before arriving at the feet of Hernandez, whose initial shot was well saved by Tim Krul, but the ball broke for Evans to finish.
Then the Northern Ireland defender diverted Danny Simpson's cross into his own net and although Cisse was in an offside position, Mike Dean allowed the goal to stand after a long discussion with assistant Jake Collin, who had initially flagged for offside.
Sylvain Marveaux hit the bar for Newcastle with a free-kick just before the break but Ba might have extended the lead when he headed just wide from a Cisse cross.
There had been no sign of the equaliser coming when van Persie pumped in a long 58th-minute ball from the left, but Newcastle failed to clear and Evra planted an impressive 18-yard shot past the dive of Krul. The lead lasted 10 minutes. Gabriel Obertan, brought on as a substitute moments earlier, gathered Davide Santon's throw-in, sprinted down the left and picked out Cisse with a pull-back that the striker converted with minimal fuss.
United needed just two minutes to equalise for a third time after a right-wing run by Antonio Valencia ended with him finding Van Persie just inside the area. Krul saved well from the initial shot before Carrick neatly worked the rebound back to the Dutchman, who scored from 15 yards.
That was the catalyst for an extraordinary final 20 minutes in which victory could have gone to either side. Hernandez rounded Krul but could not produce a shot from a bad angle, while Marveaux tested De Gea from 20 yards.
Van Persie then rolled a shot just wide, Hernandez's diving header flew inches off target, and the Mexican steered an 88th-minute header directly at Krul from a Giggs cross. Amid all that, Ameobi struck a post, but Hernandez's aim was to prove truer.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson: "Once again they've proved their courage, they never gave in. We were down three times and came back three times and eventually they deserved to win the game.
"The third goal was a killer to us, I couldn't believe it, the third goal was a kick in the teeth. But they never gave in, that's the quality and they kept making chances. If you keep making them, you're bound to score some of them. And eventually we did. Never mind where we are at this moment in time. That was a championship performance tonight. Absolutely unbelievable."
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew: “You score three goals at Old Trafford, you’ve got to get something, so we’re disappointed. It was a galling game, really, because the last couple of goals were poor from our point of view.
“We had a good gameplan today to take the game to them and be offensive and hit them on the break, which we did on a number of occasions. We hit the bar, hit the post and scored three goals; you’ve got to get something out of the game there, and unfortunately we’ve let four in and that’s been our problem.
"You always learns something when you play, we were missing some key players and [Vurnon] Anita’s taken a bad challenge towards the end which I thought was unnecessary. They gave a good account of themselves; you can’t do more than score three goals, away from home. You’ve got to get something, [it’s] as simple as that."
|29 Dec 2012||v West Brom (H)|
|01 Jan 2013||v Wigan (A)|
|13 Jan 2013||v Liverpool (H)|
|20 Jan 2013||v Spurs (A)|
|30 Jan 2013||v Southampton (H)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Fulham (A)|