Late Van Persie strike earns cup replay
Robin van Persie came off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser as Manchester United rescued a 2-2 draw at West Ham after Joe Cole had delivered a vintage display on his return to Upton Park in a thrilling FA Cup third-round tie.
Cole, 31, returned to his boyhood club on a free transfer from Liverpool this week, and rolled back the years as he set up a double for defender James Collins with superb crosses from the left flank in each half to turn the tie around after Tom Cleverley had fired United into the lead on 23 minutes.
However, as the clocked ticked into stoppage time, Dutchman Van Persie, who had started on the bench, ghosted into the right side of the penalty area, before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner to force a replay.
Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez had opened up in attack for the Barclays Premier League leaders, who also had Nemanja Vidic and Paul Scholes in the side, with Rio Ferdinand, Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs and Ashley Young all joining Van Persie on the bench in reserve.
United thought they had gone ahead on 16 minutes when Danny Welbeck swept home a low cross from Hernandez, but the offside flag was up against the Mexican. But it was 1-0 to United on 23 minutes.
More slick play down the right from Rafael released Hernandez. His low centre went all the way across into the path of the advancing Cleverley, who swept a brilliant first-time effort back past the keeper into the bottom corner.
The Irons immediately went on the offensive and replied four minutes later. The ball was pushed out to Joe Cole on the left, and his floated centre was met with a powerful header by centre-back Collins, which left United keeper David De Gea rooted to the spot as the ball flew into the net.
West Ham turned the tie around on the hour mark. Joe Cole was again the provider, as he floated over a perfectly-weighted ball from the left which Collins again met with a powerful header into the far corner.
With 23 minutes left, Sir Alex Ferguson had seen enough, making a double change as Van Persie and Valencia replaced Hernandez and Scholes.
And the away fans were cheering in the final minute as Van Persie broke into the right side of the penalty area on to a superb cross-field pass from fellow substitute Ryan Giggs, held off James Tomkins and expertly drilled the ball into the far corner.
- Jewish businesswoman Sam Caldicott slams anti-HS2 group for 'disgusting' video
- Julie Bailey "snubbed" by Stafford Borough Council
- Stafford Hospital A&E consultant calls for 'an end to mud-slinging'
- Shoppers mourn loss of town centre "flagship" store
- Police aim to deliver a car crushing blow
- From one single machine to JCB order worth £27m