Javier Hernandez leads Man U comeback for 3-2 win at Villa
Arsenal booed by fans as they throw away another 2-0 lead, this time letting Fulham share the spoils
Manchester United increased their lead at the top of the Premier League table with a 3-2 win away at Aston Villa. Alex Ferguson’s side fought back from two goals down in the second-half for a win that moves them four points clear of second-placed Chelsea, who face Liverpool later today.
“It's a magnificent result, it was a magnificent game,” exclaimed Ferguson later, though he can’t have thought so at half-time.
Andreas Weimann struck either side of half-time to give Villa a 2-0 lead before the arrival of Javier Hernandez in the second-half swung the game the way of the visitors.
The little Mexican striker scored twice for United which, together with an own goal from Ron Vlaar, sneaked his side home. “We were careless in the first half and we had to improve and we did,” said Ferguson. “Hernandez is fantastic in the penalty box and it's got us three goals today.”
It was the fifth time that United have come from behind to win this season in the Premier League, and while Ferguson admitted his side’s defence needs improving he finished the day happy, telling reporters: “I admire the tenacity of the performance."
There was little to admire in Arsenal’s performance as the Gunners surrendered a two-goal lead against Fulham. Goals from Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski had given Arsenal a seemingly unassailable lead after 23 minutes but once again the embarrassing Arsenal defence allowed the opposition back into the game.
On Tuesday it was Schalke in the Champions League who came back from two goals down, and on Saturday it was Fulham's turn. Dimitar Berbatov started the revival with a header on 29 minutes and Alex Kacaniklic levelled five minutes before half-time.
Arsenal went down the tunnel at half-time to a chorus of boos from their fans, and the atmosphere took a further turn for the worse when Berbatov gave Fulham the lead from the penalty spot midway through the second-half. Two minutes later Giroud equalised for Arsenal, and the Gunners should have snatched victory late on when they were awarded a penalty.
Referee Phil Dowd adjudged that Sascha Riether was guilty of handling the ball as Andrei Arshavin crossed from the flank, but Mikel Arteta’s spot-kick was saved by Mark Schwarzer.
Asked later if he thought a share of the spoils was a fair outcome, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger replied: “It’s difficult to measure. We had the possibility to win the game but we didn't take it. We were 2-0 up and gave two cheap goals away, but after that we have shown a fantastic spirit.”
However the Frenchman admitted that his side “lacked urgency” defensively. They – and England on Wednesday - might also be lacking Theo Walcott for a while after the winger hobbled off late in the second half. “Walcott has a glute muscle problem,” said Wenger. “At the moment, he is limping so I do not know whether he will be able to join the national team or not.”
Arsenal’s failure to take maximum points from Fulham leaves the Gunners in seventh spot on 16 points, although they are likely to slip further down the table by Sunday evening after Newcastle play West Ham.
Everton climbed to fourth with a 2-1 win at home to Sunderland. Though Adam Johnson gave the visitors the lead, second-half goals from Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic sealed the deal for the Toffees.
Despite the win Everton manager David Moyes – in what was his 400th Premier League in charge – declared himself only partially satisfied with the result. "I thought we were unlucky to come in 1-0 down because our play was good but we gave them a few chances. We will have to look at that and try to do a bit better.”
Breathing down Everton’s neck in fifth spot are West Bromwich Albion, who defeated Wigan 2-1, the Baggies having James Morrison and an own-goal from Gary Caldwell to thank for their win. At the other end of the table Reading remain in the relegation zone after a goalless draw against Norwich, as do Southampton who were held at home 1-1 by Swansea.
QPR remain rooted to the foot of the table after their 1-0 defeat by Stoke, a setback that increases the pressure on manager Mark Hughes. “We will keep on working hard,” he vowed afterwards. “The players are giving everything and they are devastated in the dressing room because they know they deserved something from the game.” ·