Rampant Chicharito stretches United lead

Two-goal substitute Javier Chicharito Hernandez inspired a dramatic Manchester United comeback against Aston Villa as the Red Devils stretched their lead at the top of the English Premier League to four points.

Villa stunned their much-fancied opponents by taking a two-goal lead through Andreas Weimann in the space of five minutes either side of half-time. But Hernandez turned the game on its head by scoring United's first goal, seeing his shot deflect off Villa skipper Ron Vlaar for the equaliser, and then heading a late winner.

"It was an absolutely magnificent result for us," United coach Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports. "It was a magnificent game. Aston Villa were fantastic today and you have to feel sorry for them, but we never gave in. [Hernandez] does his natural thing. He's fantastic in the box, with his movement, his quickness, his finding space, and that's got him the goals today."

The result stretched United's advantage over nearest rivals Chelsea with another of their famous fight-backs in the face of adversity. But Sir Alex Ferguson will be concerned as United again looked suspect defensively against a Villa side who had scored only eight times in their previous ten league outings.

He's fantastic in the box, with his movement, his quickness, his finding space, and that's got him the goals today.
Sir Alex Ferguson on Hernandez

Summer signing Christian Benteke again impressed up front, while Stephen Ireland looked a threat in his free role behind the main striker. But United never know when they are beaten and after seldom posing a threat in the opening 45 minutes, the introduction of Hernandez sparked them into life. They dominated the second period and their persistence finally paid off as they took their goal tally to 29 in 11 league games.

United started on the offensive and left-back Enda Stevens, who was making his first Premier League start, blocked a shot from Antonio Valencia at the expense of a corner. Michael Carrick was first to react to the resulting set-piece from Robin van Persie, but his header flew straight at Villa keeper Brad Guzan.

Former Villa winger Ashley Young, who was booed every time he was in possession, then curled a 20-yard shot just wide. Villa responded and, from the second of three successive corners, Benteke had a shot blocked by Young inside the danger area.

The home side found themselves with a three-one-two advantage on the counter-attack, but Weimann attempted to find Ireland rather than shooting, and the ball deflected through to David de Gea.

Ireland flashed a dipping 25-yard drive just past the post after being teed up by Weimann. Then, in first half injury-time, a superb strike from Weimann put Villa ahead. Weimann released Benteke, who shrugged off the challenge of Chris Smalling before spotting the run into the box of the Austrian U-21 international. His rising first-time shot from just inside the box flew past De Gea into the roof of the net.

Hernandez to the rescue
Ferguson brought on Hernandez for Young at the start of the second half, but within five minutes Weimann had doubled Villa's lead. Benteke's step-over dummy allowed Ashley Westwood's pass to find its way to Ireland, who released the over-lapping Gabriel Agbonlahor. The England striker's precise ball across the box was smashed home by Weimann at close range.

United reduced the arrears after 58 minutes when Hernandez took a flighted pass from Paul Scholes in his stride and slipped the ball past Guzan for his seventh goal of the campaign.

After 63 minutes, an-own goal from Villa skipper Vlaar brought United level. Hernandez was again involved as he got on the end of Rafael's cross, but his shot deflected off Vlaar past Guzan into the net.

Villa still threatened danger and De Gea had to palm away Weimann's header from Barry Bannan's cross. But the woodwork twice came to Villa's rescue in the space of 30 seconds with a Antonio Valencia header and Van Persie's dipping shot hitting the crossbar.

Wayne Rooney picked up a knock and was replaced with ten minutes left as United pressed for the winner. It finally arrived in the 88th minute when Hernandez stooped down to head home Van Persie's free-kick.