Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 24 September 2014

United extend lead at top

Javier Hernandez

Manchester United's unbeaten fight for the Premier League title reached 20 matches at Old Trafford as Javier Hernandez and Nani scored the goals that sank Stoke 2-1.

Dean Whitehead had headed home a shock leveller for the visitors at the start of the second half but Sir Alex Ferguson's men deserved their latest triumph.

It took United's tally to 19 points out of the last 21 and opened up a lead of three points over Manchester City and five on Arsenal ahead of their meeting at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

United dominated proceedings without carving out too many clear-cut opportunities. Dimitar Berbatov had one after Ryan Giggs' shot deflected into his path off Ryan Shawcross. But, although the Bulgarian controlled brilliantly, he prodded wide rather than into the same corner Hernandez found in the 27th minute.

Hernandez nipped in front of Shawcross at the near post and reacted quickly as Nani drilled over a low cross.

The overwhelming feeling at half-time was of the hosts once again scraping by without really exuding any of the class expected.

Five minutes after the restart they were pegged back as Whitehead nipped between Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra to nod home Tuncay's cross unchallenged.

For while a nervousness and anxiety betrayed United's play and Berbatov ranted at Nani for not passing to him quickly enough as another home attack broke down in its infancy.

Yet if their actual play leaves many doubters unconvinced about their actual merits in comparison to Ferguson teams of old, the Red Devils' durability cannot be questioned.

When Danny Collins failed to get tight to Nani as he collected Hernandez's pass on the edge of the area, the Portugal winger turned swiftly before finding the bottom corner with a precise curling shot for the winner in the 62nd minute.

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