Match report: Hero Javier Hernandez saves Manchester United's bacon against Aston Villa

Aston Villa 2 Manchester United 3

Villa Park

On a favourite ground against a team who have often been their most generous opponents, Manchester United found the going harder than usual – but fought back from two goals down to take this thrilling encounter thanks to Javier Hernandez.

The Mexican striker, a half-time substitute, scored twice and walked off holding the match ball, although the locals were claiming he should give it back as the dubious goals committee is likely to rule that one effort went in off Aston Villa's unfortunate captain, Ron Vlaar.

As the man himself said later, it does not really matter. The important thing was that until Hernandez popped up in the 87th minute for a low header just inside the post, it looked as though United would have to be satisfied with a draw, leaving them only two points head of Chelsea, who play at home to Liverpool today.

In 34 meetings United have lost only once to Villa, back in 2009. Even that game was not at Villa Park, where United remain unbeaten in the League since 1995, and have won numerous FA Cup semi-finals too. Often it is from a recovery like yesterday's; this was the third time in 10 years that Villa have failed to beat them after leading 2-0 here and three years ago United won after trailing 2-1 with 10 minutes left at Old Trafford.

All the statistics were a temptation to complacency and United were guilty of it even before falling behind with almost the last kick of the first half.

Home supporters have remained patient with Paul Lambert as he tries to fashion a younger side and a more attractive style, and they must have appreciated their team's efforts. The latest newcomer was Enda Stevens, the Irish left-back, given a demanding full debut against Antonio Valencia and acquitting himself well, losing out only when Rafael charged forward to create a two-on-one. There was occasionally a recklessness about the way both United's full-backs attacked and the swift counters that sometimes resulted offered some of Villa's best moments, especially when Stephen Ireland was running through the middle.

The Belgian striker Christian Benteke showed why he has been keeping Darren Bent out of the side and it was his combination of power and perception that led to the breakthrough. Chris Smalling, who had only returned for the Champions' League game at Braga in midweek, was simply shouldered off the ball by Benteke, who muscled inside him and laid a perfect ball back to the unmarked Andreas Weimann, scoring smartly from inside the penalty area.

That was Weimann's first goal of the season but five minutes into the second half the Viennese waltzed in again for a second. Gabriel Agbonlahor's pace troubled United, and he sped down the left to cross low for the forward, who could not miss.

To the delight of the home crowd Ashley Young, booed with every touch, made way at half-time for Hernandez, a good switch even by Sir Alex Ferguson's standards. Scholes made the first goal with a shrewd pass from just inside his own half and Hernandez, onside, shook off Ciaran Clark's challenge to finish.

"Attack, attack, attack" the visiting hordes in the Doug Ellis Stand. Scholes missed a header from Van Robin Persie's corner but then fed a pass out to Rafael for a cross that Hernandez drove in off Vlaar.

It had become a classic encounter of all-out attacking. Weimann deserved a hat-trick but was denied it by David de Gea's brilliant save and United came back for an extraordinary sequence in which Van Persie struck the bar twice in as many minutes. They then lost Rooney with an ankle injury, as England may do for Wednesday's friendly in Sweden.

Hernandez had the last word, and there were no doubts about where the goal credit will go this time as he stooped to head Van Persie's free-kick past a despairing Guzan. It left Lambert "absolutely gutted".

Aston Villa (4-2-3-1): Guzan; Lowton, Vlaar, Clark, Stevens; Westwood, Bannan (Delph, 87); Weimann (Holman, 80), Ireland (El Ahmadi, 79), Agbonlahor; Benteke.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Scholes (Cleverley, 71); Valencia, Rooney (Anderson, 79), Young (Hernandez, h-t); Van Persie

Referee: Kevin Friend.

Man of the match: Scholes (Man Utd)

Match rating: 9/10

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

News
people
News
people
Voices
Left: An illustration of the original Jim Crowe, played by TD Rice Right: A Couple dressed as Ray and Janay Rice
voices

By performing as African Americans or Indians, white people get to play act a kind of 'imaginary liberation', writes Michael Mark Cohen

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes