MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Substitute Javier Hernandez completed Manchester United's second-half comeback against Stoke on Saturday, securing a 3-2 victory for the Premier League champions.
Peter Crouch stunned Old Trafford with a goal after four minutes and, although United striker Robin van Persie equalized in the 43rd minute, Marko Arnautovic restored Stoke's lead on the stroke of half time from a free kick.
Wayne Rooney drew United level again in the 78th when he headed in Van Persie's corner, and Hernandez nodded the hosts in front two minutes later.
United provisionally remains in eighth place — eight points behind leader Arsenal.
But for the fine goalkeeping of David De Gea, Stoke could have gone further ahead in a first half in which United was nervous and guilty of a series of uncharacteristic defensive mistakes.
The first came after four minutes. Stoke left back Erik Pieters took advantage of too much space afforded him on his favored flank, beating Chris Smalling to cross for Crouch, who bundled the ball past De Gea at the second attempt.
Mark Hughes' men continued to counterattack with purpose, and went close to adding a barely believable second goal after 13 minutes when Crouch beat Jonny Evans to reach Jonathan Walters' cross from the Stoke right, but spooned over the bar from close range.
Inevitably Van Persie was at the forefront of United's attempted fightback, twice finding dangerous balls into the box blocked by the impressive Robert Huth, while Rooney, anonymous for the first 20 minutes, drilled a speculative shot wide from long range.
The visitors went close again when Crouch nodded a fine ball forward from Steven Nzonzi into the path of the unmarked Walters, whose shot from eight yards was brilliantly saved by De Gea.
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