Comeback kings… again: Manchester United’s hat-trick hero Javier Hernandez extends Aston Villa’s home heartbreak

By Dean Wilkins

Winning in dramatic style is a well-groomed weapon in Manchester United’s arsenal as a heroic hat-trick from Javier Hernandez dragged the Reds to victory despite Aston Villa taking a two-goal lead.

Andreas Weimann bagged either side of half time with two simple finishes for the home side, before substitute Javier Hernandez completed a 3-2 comeback in sensational manner and continued United’s 18-year unbeaten league record at Villa Park.

Both teams struggled to expose the other’s defence during a tense first-half – but the deadlock was finally broken when Christian Benteke rounded Chris Smalling with ease to send in a sumptuous ball for Weimann to smash in seconds from the whistle.

And less than five minutes after the restart Weimann was gifted another simple finish when Gabby Agbonlahor cut through United’s backline and teased in an inviting cross.

On paper Paul Lambert’s men faced a tough task to fend off United’s attack – Robin van Persie’s league goal tally matched Villa’s entire team before kick-off – but the Dutchman was effectively isolated for the majority of the game.

It was up to the Reds’ saviour of recent weeks to continue his superb scoring form and pull United back on level terms.

A delightful chip from veteran midfielder Paul Scholes and a looping cross from Rafael da Silva gave Chicharito the simple task of drawing the game on the hour mark.

His second may yet to be taken away from him as replays showed the ball ricocheted off Ron Vlaar before crossing the line.

And as United pushed to take the lead, Van Persie was finally called into action – twice Brad Guzan’s woodwork kept him at bay to keep Villa hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

Van Persie then turned set-piece specialist to feed in Hernandez to header in his third with just three minutes of normal time left, and complete yet another sensational comeback for United this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s men fought to control the tempo early on but Agbonlahor and Stephen Ireland linked well to stretch the Reds’ back four – who have now conceded the first goal ten times this season.

Despite the visitors’ seeing almost 70% possession in the first-half Villa remained focussed as they hunted their first home win over United in 17 years.

But the wily old Scot called on Hernandez to stimulate their second-half attack, former Villa winger Ashley Young was hurled off to make way for the Mexican.

And despite the Midland outfit’s injury-time efforts to save at least a point, the man who started the game on the bench virtually single-handedly turned the enthralling tie around and extended United’s Premier League lead to four points.

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