Hernandez's on mark to pinch points for United
JAVIER HERNANDEZ'S last-minute winner against Newcastle at Old Trafford gave Manchester United a 4-3 triumph from a game in which they had trailed three times, and took them seven points clear of rivals Manchester City.
Three times Newcastle led, through James Perch, Evans and Cisse, only for Evans – becoming the third player this season to score at both ends – Patrice Evra and Robin van Persie, with his 16th goal of the season, to respond.
Further chances came and went in a thrill-a-minute game.
But when Sammy Ameobi struck the inside of a post with a shot Newcastle boss Pardew thought was going in, he feared the worst.
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"When it went back to the goalkeeper I thought 'mmm, it might not be our day'," said Pardew.
He was right. And it wasn't Manchester City's either, who lost 1-0 at Sunderland.
Hernandez struck in the dying seconds to ensure United will be top on New Years' Day no matter what the outcome of matches against West Brom and Wigan.
"I wish it was the last game of the season," said Ferguson.
"It tells you about the courage of our team though.
"We had a lot of bad decisions against us in the first-half.
"That could have demoralised the team. But they didn't give in. That is the great quality they have.
"We were down three times and came back three times, then we scored the winner.
"It is a really significant result for us. It puts us in a good position.
"But as I always say about December, it is a month that tells you everything. Hopefully when we come to January 1, after that game at Wigan, we are still top of the league."
However, there was one blow for Ferguson's side before kick off in yesterday's game.
Forward Wayne Rooney will be out for "two or three weeks" after suffering a knee injury in training.
Rooney missed the 4-3 win over Newcastle on Boxing Day afternoon and the Red Devils boss confirmed the striker will miss the remainder of the festive programme.
"It was a volley towards the end of training," said Ferguson.
"He did a ligament at the back of his knee and could be out for two to three weeks."