Hernandez Heartbreak for Brave Potters
October 26th 15:00
Two late headers broke Stoke City hearts at Old Trafford on Saturday as the Potters came within 12 minutes of their biggest result since they returned to English footballs top table. Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez scored within 3 minutes to condemn Stoke to an underserved defeat.
Even the most optimistic Stoke City fan would have admitted it was looking a bleak task for the Potters ahead of the trip to the Theatre of Dreams. How wrong we were, Mark Hughes men were fantastic, full of attacking belief and gritty defending they will once again be scratching their heads as to how they have come away with nothing.
Stoke should have been 3 up by half time, the first 45 minutes was one way traffic in terms of chances and not the way most people in the ground would have expected when Lee Mason blew the whistle. It was all Stoke, containing United to very few chances and time after time springing out on the counter attack with pace and power.The opening goal came in just the 4th minute, Erik Pieters, arguably having his best game since his summer arrival, waltz past three united defenders before curling a perfect cross for Peter Crouch to scramble home. Stoke scoring a goal at all was a shock after their recent barren run but to take the lead so early at the home of the champions sparked wild scenes amongst the travelling Stokies.
It could and should have been more; Crouch scooped a Walters knock down just over the bar from 6 yards before Arnautovic forced a good low save from De Gea. It was Walters himself who was guilty of missing the best opportunity when Crouch bullied Phil Jones to lay in the Irishman but he could only blast straight at the Spanish stopper from 8 yards. United punished those missed chances when Van Persie reacted quickest to Begovic`s save from a Wayne Rooney header to blast home.
Stoke, deservedly re took the lead when their Austrian star Arnautovic curled in a brilliant free kick from 20 yards. Chants of Arnie Army echoed throughout Old Trafford and carried on all the way through half time. However it was the substitution of the winger due to illness that changed the game, he was replaced by Marc Wilson but it meant the away side lost the ability to spring out of defence. They stayed resilient however and it looked like they were going to pull off a miraculous result until two late defensive lapses broke Stoke hearts.
The champions had created next to nothing until a Van Persie corner was brilliant headed home by Rooney, after Stephen Ireland was guilty of sleeping and allowing the United number 10 to drift into space. Once the equaliser came there was a sense around the stadium that it was a matter of time and so it proved. The Mexican substitute headed home an Evra cross after losing marker Robert Huth.
It finished 3 2 and left Mark Hughes once again bemoaning his sides look, there were so many positives to take from the Stoke performance but all Potters fans will be hoping the hard luck stories soon start turning themselves into results and points. Stoke now head into two big games with a Capital One Cup tie at Birmingham before a home game against in form Southampton where they must be targeting all three points.