Hull 2 Man United 3
When James Chester dreamed of scoring a winner for Manchester United, it almost certainly didn’t go like this.
The centre-back spent 13 years at Old Trafford — joining them aged eight – before leaving for Hull as a 21-year-old and his first meeting with the club he supported as a boy will not fade from memory quickly.
Chester scored his first goal in 13 months to put Hull 1-0 up against the champions but also headed beyond his own goalkeeper to settle the scoring as David Moyes’s side overturned a 2-0 deficit to record their third consecutive Premier League victory.
“I don’t think there was anyone in the ground, when we went 2-0 down, who thought the game was over,” Moyes said.
“I think most people were rubbing their hands thinking ‘we’re in for some game here’.
“That tells you what Manchester United have got and, hopefully, tells you something about David Moyes. My teams have always been committed and try to win the games.”
Chester’s strikes bracketed a David Meyler goal to put Hull 2-0 up, a header from Chris Smalling that halved the deficit and a stunning Wayne Rooney volley that made it 2-2.
Moyes’s men then had to weather a late Hull storm after Antonio Valencia was sent off for collecting a second booking for kicking the ball away in stoppage time.
Hull manager Steve Bruce, who served United as a player for nine years, offered sympathy to Chester.
“It could have been his day in many, many ways,” said Bruce.
“He’ll cherish playing against them and scoring after four minutes to give us a wonderful start.
“It’ll be one of those games he remembers for a long, long time. He’s a very good young player and he’ll get over it.
“He’s like us all, we’re all disappointed. It’s one of those where you’re wondering what might have been.”
Hull surged into a 2-0 lead as United failed to deal with deliveries into the penalty box.
Tom Huddlestone’s corner was headed down by Alex Bruce and Chester powered the ball into the roof of the net from inside the six-yard box, with United’s marking non-existent.
Nine minutes later, it got even better for Hull as United made another mess of defending a high ball into the area.
Evans’s clearance away fell straight to Ireland team-mate David Meyler and the Hull midfielder’s weak shot hit Evans and wrong-footed goalkeeper David de Gea.
Moyes had seen enough. On came Adnan Januzaj in place of Rafael, who had suffered a knock, and the 18-year-old winger made an instant impression, drawing a free-kick from Maynor Figueroa and giving United the chance to test Hull’s centre-backs.
Rooney’s ball in was met by Smalling and the England defender guided his header wide of Allan McGregor and into the net.
Hull were still clearing their heads when United struck again to make it 2-2.
There looked to be little danger as Curtis Davies nudged the ball away from Danny Welbeck with his back to goal on the edge of the box but the loose ball found its way to Rooney, who lashed in a fierce volley from 25 yards.
It was his 150th Premier League goal and a strike worthy of the milestone.
United finally started to control proceedings and Darren Fletcher, making his first start since December 2012 after a chronic stomach problem, was a steadying influence in midfield before being substituted just after the hour mark.
His return to the side is timely, given the news that Phil Jones will be out for two weeks after suffering a knee injury.
After surrendering their lead, Hull may well have feared being blown away but they steadied the ship and gave as good as they got again.
Yannick Sagbo’s shot was punched away by De Gea after Danny Graham’s neat square pass on the edge of the area and Huddlestone’s low drive from the corner of the box was deflected wide.
United survived a scare from the resulting corner when Bruce, unmarked again, crashed a header off the top of a post after Huddlestone’s delivery.
Just as United were starting to look vulnerable again, they were gifted the lead when Chester headed into his own net from Ashley Young’s cross.
It was cruel luck for the 24-year-old defender, who was forced to intervene, with Rooney waiting to pounce.
Still Hull had their chances as Valencia’s dismissal forced United on to the back foot again
Danny Graham was guilty of missing two decent chances and Chester was denied the chance to atone for his own goal by David de Gea, who pushed his low shot behind for a corner.
HULL CITY: McGregor 6 (Harper, 45, 6); Chester 7, Davies 6, Bruce 7; Elmohamady 6, Meyler 6 (Koren, 45, 6), Huddlestone 7, Livermore 6, Figueroa 6 (Boyd, 73, 6); Sagbo 7, Graham 6.
MANCHESTER UNITED: De Gea 8; Rafael 6 (Januzaj, 18, 6), Evans 6, Smalling 7, Evra 6; Cleverley 6, Fletcher 6 (Hernandez, 62, 6); Valencia 5, Rooney 8, Young 6 (Carrick, 78); Welbeck 6.
Referee: Michael Oliver.
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