For match photos, scroll to PHOTOSTREAM above left; for match stats click on the stats tab. Manager reaction below
James Chester went from hero to villain as Manchester United came from behind to beat Hull City 3-2 at the KC Stadium. The centre-back, who formerly played for United, opened the scoring for Hull but his second-half own goal capped a remarkable turnaround from the visitors.
Hull made a dream start with two goals inside the opening 15 minutes. First Chester volleyed home Alex Bruce's knock-back and then David Meyler's shot found its way home via a deflection off Jonny Evans. But Chris Smalling's header reduced the arrears and a stunning Wayne Rooney volley levelled proceedings with 26 minutes gone. The goal was Rooney's 150th Barclays Premier League strike for United, making him only the second player after Thierry Henry to reach the landmark with one club.
Hull created the better of the second-half openings, with Bruce hitting the crossbar, but United, who finished with 10 men, made it 17 wins from their last 18 Boxing Day fixtures when Chester headed Ashley Young's cross past his own goalkeeper.
Chester nearly earned a point in injury time after Antonio Valencia had been sent off for United, but took a heavy touch in the penalty area, allowing David De Gea to make the save. United's comeback wrapped up their fifth consecutive win in all competitions, while Hull have gone five games without victory in the top flight.
Hull named the same side for the fourth straight match, while United included Darren Fletcher in their starting XI for the first time since December 1, 2012.
The hosts stormed into the lead as early as the fourth minute. Tom Huddlestone's corner was headed across goal by Bruce and Chester volleyed home from close range. Hull doubled their advantage nine minutes later to leave the home supporters in dreamland. A bout of pinball in the United box resulted in Meyler's goalbound effort deflecting off Evans and deceiving goalkeeper De Gea.
United needed a swift response and duly delivered after 19 minutes when Rooney's teasing free-kick was headed home by Smalling to halve the deficit. The visitors twice came close to levelling with Danny Welbeck’s header and Tom Cleverley's long-range strike.
The pressure was rewarded when Rooney played a one-two with Welbeck before teeing himself up for a volley that he rifled into the top corner from 25 yards.
Hull were forced into a change at half-time with goalkeeper Allan McGregor, who was involved in a first-half collision with Ashley Young being replaced by Steve Harper. The hosts twice forced good opportunities in the early stages of the second half. First Yannick Sagbo had an effort beaten away be De Gea before Curtis Davies glanced Huddlestone's corner wide.
Bruce came even closer just after the hour when his header rebounded off the crossbar.
The visitors punished Hull for their profligacy in the 66th minute as Young got past Maynor Figueroa and Chester headed past substitute goalkeeper Harper when under pressure.
Hull pushed for a leveller in the closing stages and Danny Graham could have done better with a tame back-post header. Valencia added to the tension in injury time when his kicking the ball away earned him a second yellow card, and Chester almost redeemed himself but saw his late toe-poked effort smuggled to safety.
Hull City manager Steve Bruce: "We pride ourselves on not giving anything away and unfortunately today we made too many mistakes. We made elementary mistakes and then all of a sudden it isn't your day, when it could have been because we had the opportunities and attempts.
"We got off to a great start but we just needed then to keep the ball better. All credit, though, we stuck at it and on another day we might have got the result.
"We've had three or four opportunities to get the next goal in front and they are the defining moments in the game, and unfortunately they've gone down the other end and we've made a mistake and they've punished us. Against all the big teams we've played, we've been like that, and that's the way we'll continue."
Manchester United manager David Moyes: "To be two down and come back to win is a great result. I thought it would be a long road back but these players have done this in the past and we did well to get back in the game. For us to get in at half-time 2-2 was great but when we were at 3-2 Hull gave us a few scary moments. However, I'd take that after being 2-0 down after 10 minutes.
"We're going to try to get the gap as narrow as we can. There's a long way to go in the league and we have to keep picking up points. There's a lot to do but we'll keep at it. I believe we can be in the mix and challenge whoever is near the top."
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