Hernandez magic for United
Stoke-on-Trent - Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez ensured a memorable end to a remarkable week at Old Trafford as Wayne Rooney's understudy scored twice to seal a 2-1 win at Stoke on Sunday.
Just two days after Rooney's spectacular u-turn in signing a five-year contract, Hernandez proved the future at Old Trafford may not be as bleak as the England striker had feared with two goals to move United within five points of league leaders Chelsea.
Hernandez produced a moment of magic in the 27th minute with an impudent headed finish, only for Tuncay Sanli to hit a stunning leveller nine minutes from time - Stoke's first Premier League goal against United in five attempts.
But Mexican forward Hernandez gave United a potentially pivotal victory four minutes from the end to set the seal on a whirlwind few days for the club.
One minute all the talk is of a crisis at Old Trafford and a crumbling empire, the next it is all about their ability to challenge for trophies again after their star player signs on for another five years.
But United were in buoyant mood after putting an end to the Rooney crisis, and fully focused on simply getting back into the title race with their first away win of the season in the Premier League.
Stoke had spent the week preparing themselves to face a United team rocking from the turmoil of Rooney's announcement that he wanted to bring an end to his six-year spell with the club - but the visitors were no wounded animal now their star player's future had been resolved.
United were deservedly ahead after 27 minutes. Nani's deep cross from the right was headed back into the area by Rio Ferdinand and Hernandez cleverly directed the ball past the flailing Thomas Sorensen.
That Hernandez managed to use the back of his head to find the corner was further proof of his predatory instincts.
Stoke have bloodied many noses in their Britannia Stadium bearpit but were strangely subdued in their attempts to retrieve the game.
The gargantuan throws of Rory Delap were, as usual, their most potent weapon but United, marshalled superbly by Nemanja Vidic, dealt with them admirably.
Gary Neville made his 600th appearance but any hopes of marking that record quietly were over after he was fortunate to escape a sending off before half-time.
A crude lunge on Matthew Etherington resulted in a caution from referee Andre Marriner but he somehow avoided picking up a second shortly afterwards for another rash challenge on the Stoke winger.
Bizarrely, the former England international emerged for the second half but then suffered the ignominy of being substituted before the first whistle.
United were cursing referee Andre Marriner in the 55th minute when no penalty was awarded after Patrice Evra was bundled over the in the area by Rory Delap.
Stoke battled valiantly to retrieve the game and Tuncay, who has recently not even made the 18-man squad, rewarded their pressure with an exquisite curling equaliser.
But Hernandez had the last laugh to, as Ferguson said, finally "get the show on the road".