Ferguson hails world-class Van Persie's late rescue act
Published 06/01/2013 | 05:00
Robin van Persie came off the bench to score a last-minute equaliser as Manchester United rescued a 2-2 draw at West Ham after Joe Cole had delivered a vintage display on his return to Upton Park in a thrilling FA Cup third-round tie.
Cole, 31, returned to his boyhood club on a free transfer from Liverpool last week, and rolled back the years as he set up a double for defender James Collins with superb crosses from the left flank in each half to turn the tie around after Tom Cleverley had fired United into the lead on 23 minutes.
However, as the clocked ticked into stoppage-time, Dutchman Van Persie, who had started on the bench, brilliantly controlled Ryan Giggs' long pass before drilling a low shot into the bottom corner to force a replay.
United manager Alex Ferguson insisted he never thought the game had got away from his players.
"You never do that with our team," Ferguson said. "When you're 2-1 down with a couple of minutes left you just hope you get a break, but the manner of the goal – the pass from Ryan Giggs and first touch from Robin van Persie and his finish – was absolutely world class, absolutely fantastic."
Ferguson praised the influence Van Persie is having at United in his first season with the club. His goals have been vital, but Ferguson sees more to the Dutchman's game.
"He's at a mature age now. He's brought that maturity to our front line," the Scot said, "and his performance after coming on was tremendous."
Wolves sacked manager Stale Solbakken after Luton sent them crashing out of the competition thanks to Alex Lawless' goal just 34 seconds into the second half.
Struggling Newcastle's poor run of form continued as they were beaten 2-0 at Brighton. The Seagulls repeated last season's cup heroics by dumping an under-strength Magpies out of the competition, with Andrea Orlandi supplying an outstanding opener.
The second was delivered by substitute Will Hoskins, who tucked home David Lopez's defence-splitting pass, as the play-off hopefuls completed a comfortable win.
Newcastle were further frustrated by captain Shola Ameobi's second-half sending off. Ameobi was deeply unlucky to receive the second yellow from referee Lee Probert and will miss Saturday's match against Norwich.
Two goals in the last five minutes by Matthew Barnes-Homer saw Conference side Macclesfield claim a 2-1 win over Championship leaders Cardiff.
Sunderland came from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw at Bolton. The Trotters went ahead through Chung-Yong Lee, before doubling their lead as Marvin Sordell slotted home into the bottom left-hand corner from close range.
Connor Wickham gave Sunderland hope on the hour and Craig Gardener sent an unstoppable equaliser into the net with 15 minutes left.
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