An enthralling game had taken another twist and, tantalisingly, had over 15 minutes remaining. It seemed inevitable United would take the lead for the first time just moments after levelling as Chicharito rounded Krul, but the Mexican found his options shut down by his angle to goal and a converging posse of defenders.
Both sides continued to push for the win, as Obertan’s teasing cross inched past De Gea’s post, before van Persie brilliantly half-volleyed Carrick’s lofted pass fractionally wide. With ten minutes remaining, Chicharito leapt to meet Valencia’s fine cross, but could only nod against the outside of the upright from an inviting position.
Just as it appeared United were set to snatch an unlikely victory, Newcastle came within a lick of paint of re-taking the lead for a fourth time as substitute Sammy Ameobi’s trickling effort rebounded off the inside of De Gea’s post and bounced back to the relieved Spaniard.
Continuing the game’s metronomic pattern, Chicharito headed Giggs’ cross straight at Krul from close-range, before van Persie nodded past the top corner, also from a Giggs centre. Then, just as the clock reached 90 minutes, Chicharito sent Old Trafford into delirium. The little Mexican had spent much of the second period being caught offside by Newcastle’s defensive line, but he timed his run perfectly to be level with Simpson, reaching Carrick’s superb lofted pass to slide a perfect finish past Krul.
A thrilling afternoon ended on a sour note when Vernon Anita was carried from the field after a heavy challenge from Valencia – contributing to nine added minutes – but the final whistle heralded an unlikely, invaluable victory for United. A huge dose of festive cheer for