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Hernandez leads United clear
Two-goal substitute Javier Hernandez inspired a dramatic Manchester United comeback against Aston Villa as the Red Devils stretched their lead at the top of the Barclays Premier League to four points with a 3-2 win.
Villa stunned their 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 United who started on the offensive and left-back Enda Stevens blocked a shot from Antonio Valencia at the expense of a corner, to which Michael Carrick was first to react but his header flew straight at Villa keeper Brad Guzan. Villa responded as Christian Benteke had a shot blocked by Ashley Young inside the danger area.
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 Under-21 international. His rising first-time shot from just inside the box flew past David De Gea into the roof of the net.
Ferguson brought on Hernandez for Young at the start of the second half but within five minutes Weimann had doubled Villa's lead. Stephen Ireland released the over-lapping Gabriel Agbonlahor, whose 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.
Scholes headed wide from a Robin Van Persie corner while De Gea held on to Benteke's header from a Weimann cross, but 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 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 an Antonio Valencia header and Van Persie's dipping shot hitting the crossbar.
Wayne Rooney picked up a knock and was replaced with 10 minutes left as United pressed for the winner and it arrived in the 88th minute when Hernandez stooped down to head home Van Persie's free-kick.