A quick-fire three-goal salvo saw Manchester United come from behind to beat Harry Redknapp’s new club, Queens Park Rangers, 3-1 on Saturday, propelling them to the top of the Premier League.
Incoming QPR manager Redknapp was present at Old Trafford, hours after his appointment as the successor to Mark Hughes was confirmed, and he saw his new charges take a shock lead in the 52nd minute.
Kieron Dyer’s cross-shot from the left was palmed out by Anders Lindegaard and Jamie Mackie found the roof of the net from close range.
After losing at Norwich City and Galatasaray in their previous two outings, United were staring at the prospect of a third consecutive defeat, but three goals in the space of eight minutes saw them roar into the lead.
Jonny Evans headed in the equalizer from close range in the 64th minute and four minutes later Darren Fletcher marked his first league appearance in more than a year by scoring with a thumping header from Wayne Rooney’s corner.
Substitute Javier Hernandez then beat QPR goalkeeper Julio Cesar from Anderson’s pass in the 72nd minute to kill the game off and lift Alex Ferguson’s men two points above Manchester City at the summit.
City were due to visit fourth-placed Chelsea and their new interim coach, Rafael Benitez, yesterday.
“We only played for 10 minutes and those 10 minutes were brilliant. I thought Anderson changed the game for us,” said Ferguson, who also praised Fletcher for battling to overcome a career-threatening bowel condition. “The boy has had a long journey back and he has showed he is back to his best.”
Aston Villa clambered out of the relegation zone at the expense of Reading after an uneventful 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal, who finished the day four points below the UEFA Champions League places in sixth position.
Villa winger Andreas Weimann had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half, while Arsenal centerback Laurent Koscielny spurned his side’s best chance by shooting over from close range.
Santi Cazorla and Aaron Ramsey both went close for the visitors after the break, but Arsenal were indebted to goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for producing a superb finger-tip save to touch Brett Holman’s rasping effort onto the bar.
Everton were prevented from closing to within a point of Chelsea as Sebastien Bassong netted a last-minute equalizer to earn Norwich City a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park.
Steven Naismith had given the hosts the lead with a 12th-minute tap-in, before Bassong struck at the death, meeting Wes Hoolahan’s deep free-kick with a back-post header.
Earlier, West Bromwich Albion continued their superb start to the season with a 4-2 win at Sunderland that took them up to third place.
Zoltan Gera’s curling long-range strike put the visitors ahead after half an hour’s play at the Stadium of Light, before a fumble by Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet gifted Shane Long the Baggies’ second.
Romelu Lukaku’s 81st-minute penalty made it 3-1 after Craig Gardner had scored with a deflected free-kick, but Stephane Sessegnon brought Sunderland back into the game again with a late strike from close range.
However, Steve Clarke’s men struck again in stoppage-time through substitute Marc-Antoine Fortune to secure a fourth straight league victory.
“To talk about European football at this stage would be folly,” West Brom manager Clarke said. “There are a lot of games to go, so we’ll keep our feet on the ground.”