Hull City 2 Manchester United 3 match report: David Moyes praises United’s never-say-die spirit but defensive errors live on

Wayne Rooney levelled things up after the Tigers shot out to a two-goal lead but James Chester's own goal gave the visitors a hard-fought victory

Jon Culley
Thursday 26 December 2013 15:58
Comments
Manchester United celebrate after Wayne Rooney draws them level against Hull City
Manchester United celebrate after Wayne Rooney draws them level against Hull City

A fifth win in a row – their best sequence so far under David Moyes – maintained the possibility that relinquishing the Premier League title might not necessarily be the consequence of transition for Manchester United. Yet it was a performance yesterday that reinforced doubts as much as encouraged optimism.

Two goals down in 13 minutes after a calamitous beginning, United roused themselves so effectively it took them only 13 more minutes to be back on level terms but it took an own goal to give them all the points and Hull had a right to consider themselves unlucky.

Moments before James Chester headed into his own net to put United in front, Hull would have regained their lead had Alex Bruce’s header not come back off a post with David de Gea beaten.

Moreover, in a frantic finale in which United’s Antonio Valencia was sent off after picking up a second yellow card, Hull had three chances to equalise, all of which slipped agonisingly away from them.

Moyes, who lost right-back Rafael da Silva to a groin injury after Phil Jones had been ruled out late by a knee problem, conceded that United’s defending at the start had been less than exemplary, but he saw more positives than negatives. He was also able to reintroduce Darren Fletcher in midfield, where the Scotland international played for an hour after making his first start in more than a year, and gave Michael Carrick his first minutes on the field since an Achilles injury sidelined him in early November.

“I think we were still on the Humber Bridge for the first 10 minutes,” Moyes remarked, in reference to a traffic hold-up that delayed United’s arrival at the KC Stadium until just over an hour before the 12.45pm kick-off.

“But we got back in it, deservedly so. I don’t think many people would have thought it was over after we went 2-0 down – most would have been rubbing their hands and thinking, ‘We’re in for some game here.’

“That tells you what Manchester United have got and, hopefully, tells you about David Moyes as well, that my teams will always be committed to trying to win games.

“We got a bit of luck at different times but overall I think we warranted the win because of the way we went about it and coming back from 2-0 down.”

Even so, on a ground where Hull had previously let in only three goals all season, to concede twice was to risk going the way of Liverpool, whose defeat on Humberside at the beginning of the month illustrated Hull’s capabilities.

United’s lack of decisiveness in their own penalty area first allowed right-back Chester – a former Old Trafford trainee –to sweep home his first Premier League goal on what would be an eventful afternoon and then gave David Meyler an unexpected shooting chance that went in off the heel of Jonny Evans.

It was testament, as Moyes had stressed, to United’s spirit and belief that it should take them so little time to level things up, with Wayne Rooney playing the key role.

It was his free-kick that Chris Smalling headed powerfully and cleanly home for his first Premier League goal in more than two years and, when his attempted pass to Danny Welbeck was blocked, his quick thinking that turned the rebound into a chance, to which he reacted with a superbly executed volley, up and over the Hull goalkeeper Allan McGregor and into the net. The goal was Rooney’s 150th in the Premier League for United, which makes him, after Thierry Henry, only the second player to score that many for the same club.

What’s more, it was Rooney applying the pressure when Chester headed Ashley Young’s cross into his own net after a mistake by Maynor Figueroa.

The goal came moments after Bruce’s near miss and was followed by opportunities for David Graham and the best of the match for Chester, who could come up with only a defender’s finish when George Boyd’s pass sent him clear.

Yet, despite losing keeper McGregor at half-time to an injury suffered early in the first half, Hull’s manager, Steve Bruce, was inclined less to bemoan his luck than to regret mistakes as his 19th attempt to secure a win over his former club ended in a 19th failure.

“We got off to a great start but too many mistakes – individual errors – at the wrong times have cost us,” he said.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in