Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov’s penalties lifted Manchester United level on points with leaders Manchester City at the top of the Premier League after defeating Stoke City.
After Jermaine Pennant was harshly adjudged to have fouled Park Ji-Sung, Hernandez added the finish touch in the first half, while Jonathan Walters’ clumsy challenge on Antonio Valencia led to Berbatov doubling the Champions’ lead.
Stoke dominated possession for periods of the second half, but Ben Amos, making his Premier League debut, saved comfortably from Kenwyne Jones’ header, the best chance the Potters could muster.
Starting again without Wayne Rooney and Nani, and in the absence of both David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard, started with Amos at Old Trafford, as they looked to keep pace with City at the top.
It was United’s possession game that forced the first penalty of the contest, as Park appeared to slip through before being felled by Pennant.
Replays appeared to show Pennant getting some of the ball before Park went down, but Mike Jones waved away the appeals, and Hernandez did the business from the spot, sending Thomas Sorensen the wrong way.
It took just eight minutes of the second half for United to secure the points, as Valencia got goal side of Walters, with the forward taking down the Ecuadorian.
Sorensen guessed right when faced with Berbatov from the spot, but the 31-year-old’s strike flew beyond the Dane.
Patrice Evra could have earned United a third penalty but it did little to alter the hosts’ fortunes, as Sir Alex Ferguson’s men drew level on points with leaders City.