The refusal to sell Luis Suarez in the summer just might be the best bit of business done by Liverpool this summer. The Uruguayan tyro netted a sumptuous hat-trick for Liverpool in the English Premier League, his first at Anfield, as the Reds kept pace with Arsenal courtesy a comfortable 3-1 win over West Brom.
Stoke City looked on course for a 2-1 win, thanks to goals from Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic, before Rooney and Hernandez popped up in the space of two minutes to rescue David Moyes and his side.
United started the game with plenty of possession, but it was Stoke that went into the lead; a little bit fortuitously it must be said.
Erik Pieters put in a nice cross from the left, which Jonny Evans thwacked onto Crouch and into the back of the net in just the fourth minute.
Stoke then had glorious couple of opportunities to go 2-0 up, with the first one falling to Crouch, who just failed to hook the ball onto the target from six yards off a knockdown from Jonathan Walters.
Walters soon after had the perfect opportunity to score, this time Crouch returning the favour with a knockdown of his own, but the Stoke forward only managed to strike his shot from ten yards straight onto David De Gea - a metre on either side of the keeper and it was a goal.
Wayne Rooney, knowing the onus was on him to find the goal, as both the forwards and the defenders struggled considerably, cracked one from distance which Asmir Begovic did well to keep out.
United, after much of the possession, finally got their reward two minutes from halftime. Rooney's far post header onto the target was fisted away by Begovic, but the ball fell perfectly for Robin Van Persie to volley home from eight yards.
If United thought they would head into the break on at least parity, they were in for a shock as Arnautovic swung home a wicked freekick on the stroke of halftime to stun the home crowd.
The second half saw United holding the majority of the possession yet again, although Stoke seemed to lose that counterattacking edge, so fruitful in the first half, with the loss of Arnautovic, who had to be taken off early in the second period with an injury.
You would have bet top money on a Ferguson-led Manchester United side to come back and even pick up a win, but not so much under Moyes, the way they have been playing lately.
However, knowing a loss would put them a huge 11 points behind Arsenal, United just cranked up a gear and found two goals in two minutes.
Rooney first guided an astute near-post header into the back of the net off a corner in the 78th minute, before Patrice Evra's cross from the left was met easily by an unmarked Hernandez two minutes later. The celebration in the United bench, following the winning goal, said it all as Moyes, Phil Neville and co. sighed in relief so deeply that it could be heard all across the ground.
At Anfield, it was all about Liverpool's wonderfully talented striker. Suarez opened the scoring in just the 12th minute with a brilliant solo strike, leaving a couple of West Brom defenders for dead before drilling past Boaz Myhill.
It was 2-0 five minutes later, as Suarez powered home a header to pretty much put the game to bed. If there were any doubts about the result, it all ended when Suarez bulleted home another header off a freekick from Steven Gerrard.
James Morrison pulled one back for the Baggies a little after the hour mark, but Daniel Sturridge then got his customary Premier League goal 11 minutes later to add the proverbial gloss.
The win means Liverpool stay just two points behind Arsenal, who were 2-0 winners over Crystal Palace earlier in the day. Chelsea will have an opportunity to go level on points with Liverpool on 20 points Sunday, but it will be far from easy with Manchester City the opponents.
At Villa Park, Romelu Lukaku continued his goalscoring form with the opener against Aston Villa before Leon Osman made sure of the victory late on.
Results: Norwich 0-0 Cardiff; Manchester United 3-2 Stoke; Liverpool 4-1 West Brom; Aston Villa 0-2 Everton; Crystal Palace 0-2 Arsenal.
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