Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez ensured a memorable end to a remarkable week at Old Trafford as Wayne Rooney's understudy by scoring twice in the 2-1 win against Stoke here on Sunday.
Just two days after Rooney's spectacular u-turn in signing a five-year contract, Hernandez proved that 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 leader Chelsea.
Hernandez produced a moment of magic in the 27th minute with a brilliant finish off a header but Tuncay Sanli 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.
United was in a buoyant mood after putting an end to the Rooney crisis, and fully focused on simply getting back into the title race with its first away win of the season in the Premier League.
United went ahead in the 27th minute when 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.
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. Stoke battled valiantly and Tuncay, who has recently not even made the 18-man squad, came up with an exquisite curling equaliser.
But, Hernandez and United had the last laugh.
The results: On Sunday: Stoke 1 (Sanli 81) lost to Manchester United 2 (Hernandez 27, 86).
On Saturday: West Ham 1 (Cole 12) lost to Newcastle 2 (Nolan 23, Carroll 69) . — AFP