Manchester United came back from two goals down to defeat a spirited Hull 3-2 at the KC Stadium, with former United player James Chester deciding things with a second-half own-goal.
Scorers: Hull City - Chester (4), Meyler (13); Manchester Utd - Smalling (19), Rooney (26), Chester (66 og)
Referee: M Oliver
Chester, a one-time United trainee, had opened the scoring with a close-range finish in the fourth minute and, after heading in at the wrong end, had a glorious chance to finish it in injury time only for David De Gea to make the save.
David Meyler doubled Hull’s advantage thanks to a heavy Jonny Evans deflection, but United rallied swiftly from their calamitous start and were level by the 25th minute as Chris Smalling’s header and Wayne Rooney’s stunning volley found the target.
Hull enjoyed the best of the play at 2-2 but, after Alex Bruce’s header hit the woodwork, Chester turned Ashley Young’s cross into his own net.
Danny Graham spurned a fine chance to equalise in the 87th minute, with Chester also going close at the death after Antonio Valencia picked up a late red card.
“We didn’t start well enough today,” said Rooney afterwards. “Two-nil down we had to dig deep and show our fighting spirit.”
The visitors’ team sheet – phoned in after a delayed arrival – contained several intrigues: Darren Fletcher back for a first start since 1 December 2012, Danny Welbeck fit after Achilles trouble but Phil Jones was absent with a knee injury.
Hull, unchanged for the third time in a row, set the tone for the afternoon by scoring with the first chance of the game, Jake Livermore and Ahmed Elmohamady having earned an early corner.
Tom Huddlestone delivered the ball into the box where Alex Bruce got above Patrice Evra to head towards the far post.
Welbeck was slow to come off the line but Chester was one step ahead, advancing to volley first time into the roof of the net.
United had been caught cold and worse was to follow in the 13th minute as Hull’s fine start turned into the stuff of dreams.
Meyler was the man who drove Hull into the penalty area and stayed up to collect Yannick Sagbo’s cutback across the box.
His first connection was wayward but Evans allowed him a second chance with a sloppy clearance that came back to the Irishman.
The resulting shot would not have troubled De Gea, but Evans again intervened, wrong-footing the Spaniard and turning the ball into his own net.
In the 19th minute, Smalling produced a clinical header from a Rooney cross that nestled inside the far post to pull one back.
United, almost immediately, regained confidence and only a superb save by Allan McGregor stopped Tom Cleverley finding the top corner with a 20-yard curler.
Rooney then netted the pick of the day as he controlled Evans’ long ball effortlessly with his back to goal before flicking an overhead pass to Welbeck.
When it came back to him, via a combination of Welbeck and Curtis Davies, the England striker took another deft touch before crashing home a fierce 30-yard volley.
Having weathered some Hull pressure after the break, United promptly scored on the counter in the 66th minute.
Rooney started the move in midfield and hoped to finish it after Young had beaten Maynor Figueroa on the wing. Instead, it was Chester who nodded into his own net for the winner.