LONDON: Manchester United doggedly overturned a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 against Hull City at the KC Stadium on Thursday and clamber into the Premier League’s top six.
Early goals from James Chester and David Meyler gave Hull a 2-0 lead in the first of the traditional Boxing Day fixtures, only for Chris Smalling and Wayne Rooney to bring United level.
Rooney’s goal, a sumptuous volley, was his 150th for the club in the top flight and he contributed to the winner in the 66th minute by pressuring Chester to put through his own goal.
Victory, United’s fifth in a row in all competitions, provisionally lifted David Moyes’s side to sixth place in the table, five points behind leaders Liverpool.
Darren Fletcher made his first United start since December last year following nearly 12 months on the sidelines with a chronic bowel condition, but inattentive defending saw the champions fall 2-0 down inside 13 minutes.
Two former United trainees combined to put Hull ahead in the fourth minute, with Alex Bruce heading down a right-wing corner for Chester to volley home his first ever Premier League goal.
Meyler added a second with a mishit shot that United defender Jonny Evans inadvertently deflected past goalkeeper David de Gea after the leaden-footed visitors squandered several opportunities to clear.
United then lost Rafael da Silva to an apparent groin injury, but his replacement, Adnan Januzaj, won the free-kick from which Rooney crossed for Smalling to reduce the arrears with a 19th-minute header.
Rooney tied the scores seven minutes later with a fine goal, cushioning the ball on his thigh and unleashing a crisp volley from 22 yards that swerved into the top-left corner.
Hull lost goalkeeper Allan McGregor to injury at the interval, while Fletcher made way for Javier Hernandez after 61 minutes.
Bruce threatened to restore Hull’s lead with a header from a Tom Huddlestone corner that hit the crossbar, but moments later United completed their comeback when Chester headed into his own net under pressure from Rooney.
It was only Hull’s second home defeat of the season, but United’s sense of achievement was tempered in the last minute when Antonio Valencia was sent off after being shown a second yellow card for dissent.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2013.
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