Robin van Persie. Photo by Reuters
Manchester United's Robin van Persie scored a superb late
equaliser to salvage a 2-2 draw at West Ham United in a
thrilling FA Cup third round tie after Joe Cole set up both
goals for the hosts on his homecoming.
Premier League leaders United rested several players but
manager Alex Ferguson sent on striker Van Persie in a bid to
earn a replay and the Dutchman struck in the final minute
after controlling a superb long pass by Ryan Giggs.
West Ham's 31-year-old midfielder Cole, who re-signed for his
boyhood club on Friday 10 years after leaving for Chelsea and
then subsequently Liverpool, provided perfect crosses for
James Collins to twice head past goalkeeper David de Gea.
United, 11 times FA Cup winners but not since 2004, had taken
the lead through Tom Cleverly after 23 minutes but central
defender Collins equalised with a glancing header from Cole's
inswinging cross four minutes later.
West Ham's second after 59 minutes was a carbon copy of their
first goal, Collins again sending the ball looping past De
Gea from another textbook delivery from Cole who was given a
standing ovation when he was later substituted.
"We were unlucky not to win," Cole told ITV. "It was a great
start for me but it feels like a missed opportunity."