Ferguson hails Manchester United's '10-minute heroes'

Darren Fletcher scores Manchester United's second goal in Saturday's 3-1 victory at home to QPR.

Story highlights

  • Manchester United return to top of EPL with 3-1 win against Queens Park Rangers
  • Bottom team take lead in front of new manager before United come from behind
  • Darren Fletcher scores in his first Premier League start in more than a year
  • United boss Alex Ferguson also credits substitute Anderson for inspiring victory

While most eyes were focused on Harry Redknapp's return to Premier League management with Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, it was two of Manchester United's unsung heroes who grabbed the spotlight.

With former Tottenham boss Redknapp watching from the stands after being confirmed as Mark Hughes' replacement, it appeared the English top flight's only winless team might pull off a major upset after taking the lead at Old Trafford.

However, second-half substitute Anderson inspired yet another comeback by Alex Ferguson's side as United returned to the top of the table with a 3-1 victory and bounced back from last weekend's shock defeat by Norwich.

"Anderson changed the game," said manager Ferguson said of the Brazilian midfielder, who has started only five matches in all competitions this season.

"We played for about 10 or 15 minutes, that was the sum total of a real performance for Manchester United.

"Queens Park Rangers had a surge of determination and belief, they worked really hard and that's what you expect when a team loses its manager. We saw that again today."

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Redknapp returns to EPL management

The match marked Darren Fletcher's first Premier League start in more than a year following a chronic bowel complaint which threatened to end his career, and the Scotland midfielder capped it by heading United in front following Jonny Evans' equalizer.

"Everyone is delighted for him. It has been a long road back," said Ferguson.

"It is the first time he has played twice in one week. He didn't let us down again. He never does. It is lovely to have him back like that."

United went behind for the 13th time in 20 games this season, and the fifth in a row, as forward Jamie Mackie scored for QPR in the 52nd minute from Kieron Dyer's low cross.

Sculptor shows softer side of formidable Ferguson

However, center-back Evans leveled with his third goal this season after Danny Welbeck headed on a corner by Wayne Rooney, who provided another set-piece for Fletcher to score his first league goal since the 6-1 hammering by rivals Manchester City 13 months ago.

Striker Javier Hernandez, another halftime replacement, wrapped up the victory with his ninth goal this season to put United two points clear of City -- who on Sunday travel to a Chelsea team under the guidance of new manager Rafael Benitez.

Chelsea dropped to fourth place following West Brom's 4-2 victory at Sunderland on Saturday, which gave Steve Clarke's team a fourth successive win in the top division for the first time since 1980.

"We have had a lot of plaudits and the players deserve it because so far, we have been a really good team," said Clarke, in his first managerial role after being assistant at Newcastle, Chelsea, Liverpool and West Ham.

"But you don't get carried away in the Premier League. We are still this side of Christmas, there are a lot of games to be played, a lot of points to be fought for. Our focus is on Wednesday night, that's as far ahead as we look."

Everton stayed fifth despite being held 1-1 by Norwich, as Sebastien Bassong 90th-minute header canceled out Steven Naismith's first-half goal for the Merseyside team.

Norwich moved up to 13th in the 20-team division, extending the team's unbeaten run to six matches.

Arsenal announced a $240 million sponsorship extension with Emirates on Friday, but the London club remained sixth after being held 0-0 away to an Aston Villa team that moved out of the bottom three.

Reading dropped into the relegation zone after losing 3-2 against Wigan, with Jordi Gomez netting all three goals for the 15th-placed home team.

Stoke moved up to 11th with a 1-0 win over ninth-placed Fulham, as former Liverpool midfielder Charlie Adam scored the only goal.

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