Hull 2 Manchester United 3
Manchester United came back from two goals down to defeat a spirited Hull 3-2 at the KC Stadium, with former Red Devil James Chester deciding things with a second-half own-goal.
Chester, a one-time United trainee, had opened the scoring with a close-range finish in the fourth minute and, after heading in at the wrong end, had a glorious chance to finish it in injury time only for David De Gea to make the save.
David Meyler doubled Hull’s advantage thanks to a heavy Jonny Evans deflection but United rallied swiftly from their calamitous start and were level by the 25th minute as Chris Smalling’s header and Wayne Rooney’s stunning volley found the target.
Hull enjoyed the best of the play at 2-2 but, after Alex Bruce’s header hit the woodwork, Chester turned Ashley Young’s cross into his own net.
Danny Graham spurned a fine chance to equalise in the 87th minute, with Chester also going close at the death after Antonio Valencia picked up a late red card.
For United boss David Moyes it was both a lucky escape and a fifth straight win in all competitions, while Hull’s Steve Bruce has still yet to beat the club he once captained in 15 years of management.
He can rarely have had a better chance.
The visitors’ team sheet – phoned in after a delayed arrival – contained several intrigues: Darren Fletcher back for a first start since December 1 2012, Danny Welbeck fit after Achilles trouble but Phil Jones absent with a knee injury.
Hull, unchanged for the third time in a row, set the tone for the afternoon by scoring with the first chance of the game, Jake Livermore and Ahmed Elmohamady having earned an early corner.
Tom Huddlestone delivered the ball into the box where Alex Bruce got above Patrice Evra to head towards the far post.
Welbeck was slow to come off the line but Chester was one step ahead, advancing to volley first time into the roof of the net.
United had been caught cold and worse was to follow in the 13th minute as Hull’s fine start turned into the stuff of dreams.
Meyler was the man who drove Hull into the penalty area and stayed up to collect Yannick Sagbo’s cutback across the box.
His first connection was wayward but Evans allowed him a second chance with a sloppy clearance that came back to the Irishman.
The resulting shot would not have troubled De Gea but Evans again intervened, wrong-footing the Spaniard and turning the ball into his own net.
The home support first celebrated then turned their attention to Moyes, who was told “you’re getting sacked in the morning”.
An apparent groin injury to Rafael gave the Scot a chance to change things, and he made an aggressive move in sending on livewire winger Adnan Januzaj.
He had an almost immediate impact, winning a 19th-minute free-kick from which United scored.
Rooney provided the hanging cross from the right and Smalling produced a clinical header that nestled inside the far post.
United, almost immediately, regained confidence and only a superb save from Allan McGregor stopped Tom Cleverley finding the top corner with a 20-yard curler.
The Scotsman’s effort was all the better considering he had earlier collided awkwardly with Ashley Young, an incident that eventually forced him off at half-time.
The pace did not relent and with 25 minutes gone, Rooney netted the pick of the day.
He controlled Evans’ long ball effortlessly with his back to goal before flicking an overhead pass to Welbeck.
When it came back to him, via a combination of Welbeck and Curtis Davies, the England striker took another deft touch before crashing home a fierce 30-yard volley.
Bruce had to reshuffle at the interval, Steve Harper on for McGregor and Robert Koren replacing Meyler.
But the hosts once more came out brightly, Yannick Sagbo working De Gea on the turn and Davies glancing a header wide from Huddlestone’s corner having beaten Smalling.
Hull turned the screw again either side of the hour mark, Sagbo tripped by Valencia as he surged towards goal and Huddlestone denied by a ricochet off Evra.
Bruce’s header, off the resulting corner, had De Gea well beaten but came back off the frame of the goal.
Having weathered that storm, United promptly scored on the counter in the 66th minute.
Rooney started the move in midfield and hoped to finish it after Young had beaten Maynor Figueroa on the wing. Instead, it went down as an own-goal as Chester nodded into his own net.
In the 87th minute Sagbo’s determination yielded a good chance for Graham to equalise but his header lacked conviction.
Valencia’s red card gave Hull a sniff in extra-time but De Gea’s block off Chester ensured United held out.