Two penalties against Stoke and City's loss to Everton help Utd go level on points with league leaders
Alex Ferguson has already pinpointed the Manchester derby in April as the cornerstone of his team's current attempt to regain their Premier League title.
On target: Man United's Javier Hernandez converts a penalty against Stoke. Pic/Getty Images
A 2-0 victory over Stoke, courtesy of penalties from Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, coupled with leaders Manchester City losing at Everton, helped United draw level on points, and within six goals of their rivals, at the top of the table. In a campaign that has already produced so many twists and turns, the latest development merely adds to the intriguing plot.
With Ferguson expecting to welcome back the injured trio of Wayne Rooney, Nani and Ashley Young for Sunday's visit to Chelsea, the veteran manager is clearly happy with the current status quo. "The win is obviously significant, but it's still the last day in January," said Ferguson. "I always see March as the important month and we've got City in April.
"We are hopeful Wayne and Nani and Ashley Young might be back for Sunday. It's been a good night. But I'm more pleased about our own performance.
"I thought it was terrific, we kept our composure and were very patient. Okay, we won with two penalties, but the manner in which we played our football was the main thing."
Old Trafford old boy Darron Gibson scored the winner for Everton in a 1-0 victory over Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Gibson, who was often pilloried by sections of United's support before he joined Everton in mid-January, did his old club a huge favour after driving in his first goal for the Toffees on 60 minutes to sink City at Goodison Park.