Stoke City 1 // Manchester United 2
Stoke Tuncay 86'
Manchester United Hernandez 27', 86'
Man of the match Javier Hernandez (Man United)
STOKE // While Wayne Rooney celebrated his 25th birthday by the pool in Dubai, his Manchester United teammates ended a tumultuous week on a high at the Britannia Stadium by finally converting an away draw into a win.
While the England striker has been the focus of intense media attention during the past seven days, it was another forward, the Mexican Javier Hernandez, who stole the headlines yesterday.
Rooney, out for three weeks with an ankle injury, decided to take a sunshine birthday break to the Emirates with his wife, Coleen, perhaps to celebrate his new five-year contract rumoured to be worth in excess of £200,000 a week (Dh1.17 million) after changing his mind about wanting to leave United.
Rooney's teammates were left to battle hard in the rather less glamorous surroundings of the English midlands yesterday and they initially looked like surrendering another lead. Tuncay made it 1-1 nine minutes from time before Hernandez scored his second four minutes from time to give United a first away win of the season.
"When their goal went in you start to say to yourself it is going to be one of those seasons, but Chicharito [Hernandez] came up with the winner," said Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager.
"The supporters reaction was fantastic to the goal and our players reaction was fantastic. It is the kind of goal United score over the years."
Ferguson has been in charge of United for 24 years but can rarely have been in charge through a more turbulent week.
Ferguson said the situation with players like Rooney were par for the course at United.
He said: "There are always issues to deal with. When your top players come towards the end of their contracts you have to do something to get them a new one.
"They are all the same. You have to deal with agents of this world today, which is difficult.
"The players are no problem. There is no problem with players. Some agents are difficult."
Hernandez notched his fourth and fifth goals since joining from Chivas Guadalajara in the summer and his first was a beauty.
Facing away from goal, the little Mexican still managed to open the scoring in the 27th minute with the back of his head in what was a fine piece of finishing.
"I don't remember doing it in training. It's a good goal but the most important thing is the result. Here there are no heroes, it is about the team," he said.
Tony Pulis, the Stoke manager, was furious with the decision by Andre Marriner, the referee, not to show Gary Neville a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Matthew Etherington just before half-time.
"Well let me ask you this," he said, "If it was a Stoke City player at Old Trafford and he committed those two fouls, would he have been sent off?"
"The referee's gone easy on me," said Neville, making his 600th appearance for United.
Stoke, however, were unable to test Edwin van der Sar in the United goal once until Tuncay's fine strike. The Turkish forward, who came off the bench in the 66th minute, cut inside on to his left foot to sweep a stunning finish over the head of Van der Sar.
It was the first goal Stoke had managed past United since Mark Stein's double in a League Cup tie in 1993.
Ferguson's men could write the book on late goals, however, and after conceding several this season Hernandez poked in Evra's mis-hit shot from five yards with just four minutes left.