own goal. Rooney beautifully picked out the run of Rafael and, when Hernandez met the Brazilian's cross at the far post, the ball cannoned into the net off the Dutch defender.
Playing with the purpose of a team at the top of the table, the visitors almost went ahead but Guzan dived to palm away a Rooney attempt while Villa showed they were still very much in the mix with Weimann only denied a hat-trick by a superb stop from De Gea following a Barry Bannan centre.
After Tom Cleverley was introduced at the expense of Scholes, the Reds came agonisingly close to going ahead with van Persie hitting the bar twice inside 47 seconds. The Dutchman smashed a header against the woodwork from a Rooney corner and then produced a wonderful attempt that curled past Guzan but again failed to provide a third goal.
Rooney blasted off target as United entered the closing stages without the England international, who hobbled off to be replaced by Anderson. As Rafael lashed over the bar from long range, the Reds looked like being frustrated in an attempt to find a winner with Lambert making three separate substitutions to help run down the clock.
However, yet again Sir Alex's side completed a trademark comeback courtesy of Hernandez, who dived to nod van Persie's free-kick past Guzan after Anderson was fouled in midfield. This was classic United and puts pressure on the title rivals heading into Sunday's fixtures by extending the lead at the top of the table to four points. Chicharito grabbed the match-ball at the end but seems unlikely to be credited with all three goals despite his super-human efforts to turn things around.