EPL: Hernandez inspires United comeback win at Villa
Javier Hernandez went off clutching the match ball after helping leaders Manchester United fight back for a 3-2 win at Aston Villa after Arsenal were held in another rip-roaring Saturday of Premier League action.
Austrian Andreas Weimann had stunned United with two well-taken goals for lowly Villa either side of the break but Mexico striker Hernandez showed his killer instincts by netting on 58 minutes and seeing a second shot deflect in off Ron Vlaar.
He sealed the remarkable comeback with a diving header three minutes from time as Alex Ferguson's men yet again plucked victory from the jaws of the defeat thanks to their incessant pressure and clinical finishing.
Image: Javier Hernandez of Manchester United shoots
Photographs: Michael Regan/Getty Images
'The only thing in my mind is to do my best'
"The only thing in my mind is to do my best and do what the gaffer told me to do. He told me to do the things I do in training, to run in behind, to move the defenders," Hernandez told Sky before claiming a hat-trick despite a debatable second.
"Yes of course (I'll claim it). I hit the target and the defender touched the ball."
United stretched their lead to four points after 11 games ahead of second-placed Chelsea with champions Manchester City a further point back in third. Chelsea host Liverpool and City entertain Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.
Proceedings at the late game at Villa Park were far from bland with 21-year-old Weimann making United pay for a lacklustre first half when he slammed in from the edge of the area to beat goalkeeper David de Gea above his head.
He slotted in a second five minutes after the restart to further upset the form book with Villa languishing in 17th spot.
Image: Manchester United's Javier Hernandez celebrates
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters
Robin van Persie in form for United
Memories of the long ago days when they would often compete with United started to drift back into the minds of the Villa faithful but the sight of Hernandez ready to come on at the start of the second period should have rung alarm bells.
The arch goalpoacher latched on to Paul Scholes' lobbed pass to score and was soon celebrating again even if replays suggested his expert finish after a good move might have gone wide without hitting Vlaar.
Robin van Persie struck the woodwork twice in succession as United poured forward for the winner and the Dutchman supplied the cross from a free kick for Hernandez to head home.
Arsenal have stuttered all season but got off to the perfect start against Fulham when close-season signing Giroud finally began to show some of the might which helped him win the French title last term with Montpellier.
The tall striker netted with a powerful header on 11 minutes after a corner from the recalled Theo Walcott and the hosts were soon 2-0 up and cruising when Arteta set up Germany's Lukas Podolski for an easy finish midway through the first half.
The unmarked Berbatov pulled one back on the half hour when he headed in a corner and the laidback Bulgarian set up substitute Alex Kacaniklic as Fulham equalised five minutes before the break.
Berbatov put Fulham 3-2 when he converted the coolest of penalties after a foul by Arteta in the 67th minute.
Giroud then took another small step in his quest to replace ex-Arsenal talisman Van Persie by netting another header before Mark Schwarzer saved Arteta's stoppage-time spot kick.
Image: Manchester United's Robin van Persie
Photographs: Darren Staples/Reuters