Stoke 1-2 Man Utd
Manchester United had Javier Hernandez to thank as he rescued three points against Stoke City.
In a week when Wayne Rooney dominated column inches over his future at Old Trafford, it was fitting that his fellow striker would grab the headlines with a brace at the Britannia Stadium.
Hernandez gave the visitors the lead after 27 minutes as acrobatically turned Nemanja Vidic's knock-back goalwards with an inventive header.
Hosts Stoke refused to throw the towel in and they grabbed a deserved equaliser on 81 minutes as substitute Tuncay Sanli scored a wonder-strike as Marc Wilson took advantage of an uncharacteristically sloppy error from Paul Scholes.
But any hopes the Potters had of recording their first point against United in the Premier League were extinguished when Hernandez poked home Patrice Evra's cross-cum-shot to give the Red Devils their first away win in the league this season.
Rooney may have been absent as he celebrated his 25th birthday, but summer acquisition Hernandez's double helped close the gap on leaders Chelsea to five points.
Central to the England striker's push for a move away was a claim that the club, burdened with debt ever since the Glazer family's takeover, could no longer match his ambition by attracting the world's top players.
While that may be true to some extent, Hernandez is looking a more astute purchase by the game as he notched his fourth and fifth goals since joining from Guadalajara for around £7million over the summer.
Gary Neville was incredibly fortunate not to be sent off at the end of the first half when referee Andre Marriner declined to show him a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Matthew Etherington.
Stoke boss Tony Pulis will be understandably furious with the decision, but the fact remains that despite dictating play for large periods the Potters were unable to test Edwin van der Sar once until Tuncay's fine strike.
The home side had enjoyed a spell of pressure before United forged ahead through Hernandez.
Nani worked a short corner with Evra and when Vidic headed the ball back across the face of goal, the Mexican international was able to flick home his header despite facing away from goal.
Stoke responded well as they again dictated play and Neville became the first name in referee Marriner's book for a clumsy challenge on Etherington.
Neville was then extremely lucky not to see red after another mistimed challenge on Etherington.
Neville surprisingly reappeared with the rest of United's players at the break but was then humiliatingly instantly replaced by Wes Brown before the half could kick-off.
Pulis introduced Tuncay and Eidur Gudjohnsen in a bid to add more quality in the final third and the two combined in an 82nd-minute equaliser.
Scholes gave the ball away and after Kenwyne Jones and Gudjohnsen linked up, Wilson swept a fabulous pass out wide to the Turk.
Tuncay cut inside onto his left foot to sweep a stunning finish over the head of Van der Sar and into the top corner.
It was the first goal Stoke had managed past United since Mark Stein's double in a League Cup tie in 1993 and was well worth the wait.
Ferguson's men could write the book on late goals, however, and Hernandez was again the crucial man as he poked in Evra's mis-hit shot from five yards with just four minutes left.
Current Premiership Table