By Lee Savery
Javier Hernandez was the catalyst in another classic turnaround as Manchester United came from 2-0 down to win at Villa Park.
With United dwindling in another poor display but just as they did against Braga and quite a few opponents this season, they were able to dig out a victory.
Andreas Weimann, on the stroke of half time, slammed home Christian Benteke’s cross. It was right at David de Gea but the power behind the shot was too much for the Spaniard. United felt aggrieved as they felt Chris Smalling was fouled by Benteke in the build-up.
Five minutes into the second half, Aston Villa were in dreamland as Weimann converted Gabriel Agbonlahor after Paul Scholes had cheaply gave the ball away. The cross was drilled low and hard into the six-yard box where the Austrian was able to place the ball into an empty net.
Chicharito was brought on at half time to turn the game around and it started eight minutes later. Scholes’ ball over the top found the Mexican who just about kept control of the ball and placed the ball through Brad Guzan’s legs and into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later, United were level. Wayne Rooney released Rafael down the right-hand side who stands his cross to the back post which was met by Hernandez’s whose shot deflected off Ron Vlaar and into the net. He claims its his goal, but replays show it probably would not have gone in without the deflection.
After such a poor first hour, the two goals transformed the match and the Red Devils were now firmly on top and many sensing only one winner. However, Weimann had other ideas as he diverted a free header towards goal but de Gea was equal to it.
The third goal looked like it would not come for the away side as Robin van Persie hit the bar twice in 37 seconds, first with a header and then with a curling shot from outside the area. It would be a header that would win the game.
With three minutes left of normal time, Hernandez diverted van Persie’s terrific free-kick from the right into the bottom corner with a free header. Guzan had no chance and United were elated. Another turnaround complete and another three points bagged for the league leaders.
The inadvertent tactic of allowing teams to go 2-0 up will likely backfire later in the season but once again it has worked a treat. Whether it was a hat-trick or not, Hernandez was majestic and will take all the plaudits tonight.
Latest Manchester United 2012-13 statistics.
Man of the Match Poll & Player Ratings: Aston Villa vs. Manchester United here.
Register with the Stretford End Arising forum.