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 defeat thanks to their incessant pressure and clinical finishing.
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 were to entertain Tottenham Hotspur yesterday.
Arsenal’s season took another turn for the worse when they let slip a two-goal lead and Mikel Arteta missed a late penalty as a Dimitar Berbatov-inspired Fulham grabbed a 3-3 away draw.
Olivier Giroud’s double — his first home league goals — could not prevent Arsenal staying seventh, sliding four points behind fourth-placed Everton, who beat visiting Sunderland 2-1.
Surprise packages West Bromwich Albion, in fifth, are level on points with Everton following a 2-1 victory at Wigan Athletic, thanks to James Morrison’s header and a Gary Caldwell own goal.
Former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam’s first goal for Stoke City sealed a 1-0 home win over Queens Park Rangers, who plunged to the bottom of the table after Southampton leapfrogged the Londoners with a 1-1 draw against Swansea City.
Reading and Norwich City drew 0-0 in a dour game.
Proceedings at the late game at Villa Park were far from bland with 21-year-old Weimann making United pay for a lackluster 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.
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.