LONDON, Nov 11: Half-time substitute Javier Hernandez scored twice and made another as Manchester United came from two goals down to win 3-2 at Aston Villa on Saturday and pull four points clear in the Premier League.
A brace of goals from Andreas Weimann looked set to condemn United to their third loss of the season, but Hernandez pulled one back and then set up an own goal by Ron Vlaar before heading home a sensational 87th-minute winner.
The result gives United a four-point lead over second-placed Chelsea, who host Liverpool on Sunday, with champions Manchester City a point further back ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit.
Villa more than held their own in the opening 45 minutes at Villa Park, and they took the lead in first-half injury time.
Christian Benteke resisted Chris Smalling’s attentions wide on the Villa left before cutting the ball back to Weimann, who placed a first-time shot into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty box.
Hernandez replaced Ashley Young at the interval but Weimann struck again five minutes into the second half, slamming in from close range after Gabriel Agbonlahor got free down the left.
United hit back quickly though, with Hernandez to the fore.
The Mexican finished between Brad Guzan’s legs in the 58th minute to claim his sixth goal in six appearances, before seeing a volley turned home by Villa defender Vlaar to give the away side a 63rd-minute equaliser.
David de Gea denied Weimann a hat-trick with a smart save from the Austrian forward’s header, while Robin van Persie hit the bar twice, before Hernandez capped another trademark United comeback by converting van Persie’s free-kick.
Arsenal 3, Fulham 3
In London, Mikel Arteta’s failure to convert an added-time penalty summed up Arsenal’s frustrations as Arsene Wenger’s side squandered a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw with Fulham at the Emirates Stadium.
Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski had put the home side 2-0 up inside 23 minutes, but Fulham recovered with two goals from Dimitar Berbatov, either side of a Alex Kacaniklic header, and it took a second Giroud effort to rescue a point for Wenger’s team.
Victory was denied the Gunners when Mark Schwarzer saved from Arteta in the final act of a dramatic game, but defeat would have been harsh on a spirited Fulham side.
It would have also deflected attention from another unconvincing display by Wenger’s team, who let a two-goal lead slip for the second time in four days after the mid-week draw at Schalke in the Champions League.
The defensive weaknesses that have crept into Arsenal’s play were once again plain to see, while Fulham confirmed the progress they have made under Martin Jol, with Berbatov again outstanding.
Wenger, though, can at least draw comfort from his side’s comeback, two goals from Giroud, who has now scored four in four games, and another threatening display from Theo Walcott.
Walcott has found himself on the fringes of Wenger’s plans while his contract situation remains unresolved, but he strengthened his case for the deal he wants by playing a role in both his side’s opening goals on his first league start since August. Fulham had started brightly and were arguably the dominant side before Walcott delivered a right-wing corner into the path of Giroud, who headed past away goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer in the 11th minute.
Then, when Podolski doubled Arsenal’s lead 12 minutes later, it seemed the home side were on course to claim a comfortable victory.
Once again Walcott was involved, this time laying a neat flick into the path of Arteta, who picked out Podolski for the Germany international to stab the ball home from six yards.
The scoreline was harsh on Fulham, but they hit back through Berbatov, who was granted acres of space inside the Arsenal area to head home from Bryan Ruiz’s corner.
Arsenal’s attacking threat receded, while their defence continued to look shaky, and it was no surprise when Fulham levelled five minutes before half-time, with Berbatov again at the heart of the move.
The striker’s run down the right flank was picked out by Fulham right-back Sascha Riether and Berbatov clipped a precise cross towards substitute Kacaniklic, who headed past Vito Mannone.
Giroud headed over immediately before the break but there was no doubt the momentum had swung Fulham’s way.
Everton 2, Sunderland 1
In Liverpool, United Kingdom, Adam Johnson ended Sunderland’s eight-hour and 55-minute goal drought but goals from Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic gave Everton a 2-1 win at Goodison Park.
England winger Johnson, 25, prodded in just before the interval to score his first goal since joining the club from Manchester City in a £10 million ($15.9 million, 12.5 million euros) deal in August.
But just as Sunderland looked set to cling on for only a second win in 18 matches, Fellaini pulled Everton level with his sixth Premier League goal of the season with 15 minutes left.
Less than three minutes later, Jelavic added a second with his fifth of the campaign to make sure the Toffees extended their unbeaten run against the Black Cats to 16 matches.
There was a blow for Everton manager David Moyes, however, with Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas — who has become a key player since joining from Olympiakos in the summer — limping off with an apparent hamstring injury.
Everton’s impressive start to the campaign had looked to be in trouble after four consecutive draws but this victory keeps alive their hopes of an unlikely challenge for a Champions League place.
The two sides provided an exciting opening and the hosts had an early penalty appeal turned down when Jelavic went down under John O’Shea’s challenge in the Sunderland area.
But Martin O’Neill’s side went close to moving in front when Stephane Sessegnon slid a pass through and Steven Fletcher was denied by the legs of Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Sunderland’s compact formation was proving difficult for Moyes’ men to break down, although Jelavic had an effort deflected over the bar.
Reading 0, Norwich 0
In Reading, England, Dauntingly for the hosts, Norwich wore all black Saturday as they earned a 0-0 draw at Reading, who have now gone an alarming ten top-flight games without a single win to their name.
Lack of funds for coach Brian McDermott’s promoted Reading side means his line up was similar to the one that last won a home league game against Nottingham Forest in April.
For Norwich it was a third clean sheet in four games that have seen them claim eight points.
In a tight first-half Norwich started brightly, but Reading were the first to open up a decent scoring chance when Garath McCleary’s long-range shot was tipped away by John Ruddy on the quarter-hour. It was to be the only shot on target in the first-half.
The Canaries had to be well organised in defence as they were pegged back in their own half for much of the opening period, conceding a series of five corners, but snuffling out any danger Reading created.
Former Glasgow Rangers defender Steven Whittaker came closest for Norwich with a long range shot of his own, but the teams went in 0-0 at half-time — and so it was to remain.
Reading made changes on the hour as Pavel Pogrebnyak and Jimmy Kebe came on for McCleary and Noel Huntas in an early double substitution in midfield and attack.
Southampton 1, Swansea 1
In Southampton, United Kingdom, Southampton remain stuck in the Premier League relegation zone after being pegged back by Swansea City in a 1-1 draw at St Mary’s Stadium on Saturday. Morgan Scheiderlin rewarded the hosts’ dominance by breaking the deadlock in the 64th minute but a defensive mix-up allowed former Saints winger Nathan Dyer to claim an equaliser for Michael Laudrup’s side.
The result was enough to take Southampton off the foot of the table at the expense of Queens Park Rangers, but the manner in which they threw away victory is unlikely to ease the pressure on manager Nigel Adkins. Southampton had dropped to the foot of the table last weekend, but they enjoyed the best of the first half in Saturday’s encounter on the English south coast.
Captain Adam Lallana forced Swansea goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel into a save with a low shot, while Gaston Ramirez saw an effort flash wide of the post. Ramirez also teed up Jose Fonte with a cleverly disguised free-kick, but the Portuguese defender’s header back across goal was well cleared by Ben Davies.
The visitors, typically, enjoyed the greater share of possession, but their only first-half opening saw Ki Sung-yeung’s shot draw a flying save from goalkeeper Paolo Gazzaniga.
Lallana curled over the bar shortly before half-time, while Swansea procured a sight of goal through Wayne Routledge after 56 minutes, only for the winger to fail to find the target from a central position.
Stoke 1, QPR 0
In Stoke-On-Trent, England, Charlie Adam piled the pressure on beleaguered QPR manager Mark Hughes as the Stoke midfielder’s first goal for his club clinched a 1-0 win at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.
Adam, who joined from Liverpool in pre-season, bagged the winner early in the second half to give Stoke just their second league victory of the campaign and lift Tony Pulis’s side away from the relegation zone. While Stoke finally have reason for celebration, QPR’s miserable season shows no signs of improving after they slumped back to the bottom of the table following their seventh defeat in 11 league matches.
The west London outfit are still waiting for their first league win this season and former Manchester City boss Hughes faces a fight to convince the club’s Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes to keep faith with him.
Neither side could find any rhythm in a scrappy first half and QPR’s Alejandro Faurlin and Stoke’s Peter Crouch both completely missed the target when opportunities fell their way.
Wigan 1, West Bro 2
In Wigan, England, West Brom’s excellent start to the season continued on Saturday as they recorded their first away win of the campaign with a 2-1 victory over in-form Wigan in an entertaining Premier League clash.
All the goals came in the first-half with James Morrison and an own goal by Gary Caldwell giving the visitors a two goal lead — taking their total to just five away goals all season — before Arouna Kone reduced the arrears.
Victory keeps West Brom in fifth spot.
The hosts tested stand-in Welsh goalkeeper Boaz Myhill from the kick-off, clearly keen to see whether he was still suffering from the after effects of his previous match when he let in six against Serbia in a World Cup qualifier.
Maynor Figueroa and James McCarthy both went close to opening the score before Myhill — who was starting because Ben Foster has a groin injury — pulled off a great save from Ben Watson.
However, it was the visitors, whose manager Steve Clarke had surprisingly left out Peter Odemwingie despite two goals in their win over Southampton last Monday, who opened the scoring.
Morrison — who was returning from a hamstring injury — meeting a brilliant cross by Chris Brunt at the back post to put it into the net.
The visitors doubled their lead when Scottish defender Caldwell turned the ball into his own net when trying to clear Billy Jones’s cross, but Wigan struck back immediately and scored a goal of their own.
Kone was on hand to prod into the net after a brilliant cross by Chilean star Jean Beausejour to send them in at half-time just 2-1 down.
However, it was their excellent Omani goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi who kept them in the match with a stunning save from Romelu Lukaku.Arleta fluffs his lines as Fulham thwart Arsenal