Manchester United's Javier Hernandez (R) celebrates with
Tom Cleverley aftrer scoring during their English Premier
League match against Newcastle United at Old Trafford in
Manchester. REUTERS/Phil Noble
Manchester United trailed three times before a last-gasp
goal from Javier Hernandez earned a rip-roaring 4-3 win over
Newcastle United that opened a seven-point lead at the top of
the Premier League.
Elsewhere, Manchester City were undone by former winger Adam
Johnson in the 53rd minute as he scored the only goal in a
1-0 victory for Sunderland.
Champions Manchester City are second in the table, four
points ahead of Chelsea who won 1-0 at Norwich City thanks to
a 20-metre strike from Juan Mata.
As they have done so many times this season, Manchester
United fell behind when James Perch scored after four minutes
at Old Trafford.
Jonny Evans levelled in the 25th minute before the defender
put through his own net four minutes later as the visitors
went back in front.
Patrice Evra equalised for the home team but Papiss Cisse
then gave Newcastle a 3-2 lead. Robin van Persie hit back for
Manchester United before Mexico striker Hernandez popped up
with the winner in the last minute.
Manchester United's 19 league matches this season have
yielded a total of 76 goals and their mantra appears to be
'however many you score, we will score more'.
Had they not steamed back to win in a thrilling Boxing Day
fixture, controversy would have raged at Evans's own goal.
Referee Mike Dean initially disallowed it, ruling that
Newcastle striker Cisse was offside, but he changed his mind
after a lengthy delay during which he consulted his
"I thought it was a bad decision for the own goal," said
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson who vented his fury
at Dean at halftime.
"Cisse was offside and he also grabbed Evans on the arm. If
that's not interference, what is interference?", Ferguson
told the BBC.
"December is always a big month. We dropped two points at
Swansea (on Sunday) but made up for it today. It was a real
Manchester United had to do without striker Wayne Rooney
after he was hurt in training.
"Rooney has injured a ligament at the back of his knee and
will be out for two or three weeks," Ferguson said. "We are
running out of ammunition."
Before his part in the controversy Evans had equalised for
Manchester United but the defensive frailties that have
plagued them this season meant they needed to play catch-up
Newcastle's third goal by Cisse raised hopes of their first
league win at Old Trafford since 1972.
Van Persie equalised for the home team with his 13th league
goal of the season before Hernandez produced his grandstand
finish to give United their eighth victory this season in a
game where they previously trailed.
Manchester City's defeat at Sunderland was their second in a
row at the Stadium of Light.
"It's the same story for us at Sunderland every year, we are
not going to come here next season," said manager Roberto
Mancini with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
"It's important that our strikers start scoring more goals,
sometimes we take one touch too many."
With the season at the halfway point Manchester United, who
have already racked up 48 goals to compensate for some
unusually leaky defending, have 46 points with Manchester
City on 39. Third-placed Chelsea, who have a game in hand,
are on 35.
In the race for fourth place, Everton nudged ahead with a 2-1
win over struggling Wigan Athletic at Goodison Park where
home defender Phil Neville made his 500th league appearance.
West Bromwich Albion continued to impress with a 2-1 victory
at Queens Park Rangers in a match delayed after the bus
carrying the visiting team arrived late.
Harry Redknapp's QPR dropped back to the bottom of the table
with only 10 points, Reading jumping above them on goal
difference with a 0-0 draw at home to Swansea City.
Fulham drew 1-1 with Southampton who remain just above the
The Boxing Day programme is completed later with Aston Villa
hosting Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City entertaining
Chelsea followed up their 8-0 thrashing of Villa on Sunday by
winning at Norwich.
"(Norwich) have won against Manchester United and Arsenal
this season. It was tough but I was really pleased with the
performance of the players," said Chelsea manager Rafa
"The team are showing character. I am really pleased with the
workrate and the style of play."