Manchester United belatedly rediscovered their famous fighting spirit by roaring back from behind to beat Stoke City 3-2 on Saturday and re-energize their Premier League title defense.
David Moyes’ side trailed 2-1 at halftime and looked on course for a third successive home game without a victory in the league, only for goals from Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez to secure a much-needed win.
United remain eight points behind Arsenal, who won 2-0 at Crystal Palace to consolidate their position at the head of the table, but they closed to within three points of the top four.
Stoke took the lead in the fourth minute at Old Trafford when Jonny Evans’ attempted clearance from a save off a Peter Crouch shot cannoned against the prone striker and flew into the net.
Robin van Persie equalized in the 43rd minute, tucking home after Asmir Begovic parried a Rooney header, only for Marko Arnautovic to restore the visitors’ lead on the stroke of halftime with a superb free-kick.
Stoke lost the influential Arnautovic to injury in the second half and United capitalized by turning the game around with a pair of goals in the space of three minutes.
Rooney cleverly flicked a looping header over Begovic to equalize in the 78th minute, before substitute Hernandez completed the comeback with a back-post header from Patrice Evra’s teasing cross.
“It was a big challenge to make sure we won the game, but we did it. We showed great energy after the midweek game against Real Sociedad to go until the end,” United manager Moyes said. “I was worried it wouldn’t come, especially when we were 2-1 down, but I think we deserved it in the end. We kept at it and deserved to score. It may be a turning point — we know we have got to do it in style here at Old Trafford.”
With Chelsea not in action until yesterday, when they were due to host Manchester City, Liverpool took advantage to climb above them into second place thanks to a glorious hat-trick by Luis Suarez in a 4-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.
The Uruguayan broke the deadlock with a fine goal in the 12th minute, picking the ball up in a deep position, drifting past one defender and nutmegging another, before drilling a low shot past Boaz Myhill.
He added a second five minutes later with an improvised header from just inside the penalty area and completed his first-ever Anfield hat-trick 10 minutes into the second half by nodding home a Steven Gerrard free-kick.
James Morrison replied with a penalty in the 66th minute, but Daniel Sturridge restored Liverpool’s three-goal advantage in style 13 minutes from time with an exquisite chip from the left-hand edge of the area.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers praised his two goalscorers.
“They’re very hard to contain. Both of them have different qualities and both are goalscorers,” Rodgers said. “I thought our midfield three today were excellent. We’re just looking to keep improving, not getting carried away, and the boys at the top end did their job and got the goals.”
Earlier, Arsenal survived the dismissal of goalscorer Mikel Arteta to overcome Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and preserve their status at the top of the standings on the 150th anniversary of the Football Association.
Arteta put the visitors ahead with a 47th-minute penalty, but he was contentiously shown a straight red card with 25 minutes remaining for a last-man foul on former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh.