Originally posted on Fox Soccer  |  Last updated 12/27/12
Davide Santon admitted Newcastle United let slip a "big chance" after losing the lead three times in a last-gasp 4-3 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Alan Pardew's side took the game to the league leaders on their home turf but were unable to keep it tight at the back and eventually succumbed to a 90th-minute winner from Javier Hernandez. Santon revealed the visitors went into the game with new-found confidence after their win over Queens Park Rangers last weekend and were disappointed not to have taken advantage of it. He told the club's official website: "We had a really big chance to win this game, but the last 10 minutes were good for Manchester United and they won, while we come back to Newcastle with zero points. "I think people thought Newcastle would go to Manchester United and come back with zero points, but we really had a chance to win the game. "We were confident because last week we won against QPR, so when you win, for the next game you always have confidence. You have a winning mentality. "Today was like that. We came here to get the result, but in the final minutes we were beaten and we are really disappointed because we should have won." Despite the defeat, Santon insisted that Newcastle could take heart from their performance ahead of another tough away trip on Saturday, against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. The Italian defender said: "It is a really sad day but now we have to think about the next game. "We are disappointed but I think we can still go into the next game against Arsenal with the mentality to win. "If we play the same as we did [against United] - especially in the first half - we can win the game. "We will go with a winning mentality and I think we can win the game." With Wayne Rooney ruled out through injury and Danny Welbeck consigned to his sick bed, Hernandez was handed striking responsibilities for the Boxing Day encounter with Newcastle at Old Trafford. It looked like being a frustrating afternoon for the Mexican, who failed to convert two clear chances to give United a priceless victory. However, his luck changed in the final minute when he beat the Newcastle offside trap to reach Michael Carrick's cross and seal a dramatic 4-3 win with his 10th goal of the season. And Hernandez knows it would not have been possible had he let those earlier failures bother him. "I didn't have those things in my mind," he said. "You cannot afford to regret every chance you miss because if you do you will never be concentrated for the next opportunity. "You are never going to play the perfect game. You will never score five goals from five opportunities. "That is the beauty of football. "The most important thing was the win because here there are no heroes. "It doesn't matter if I score in the last minute or we score four goals. We won and Manchester City lost. That is very good news." Hernandez is having to be patient, though. Now into his third season at Old Trafford, the 24-year-old has rediscovered the form that earned him a Champions League starting berth and 20 goals in his first. Hernandez has now moved onto double figures for the season, yet Robin van Persie's arrival means those coveted spots in Sir Alex Ferguson's team are harder to come by. Periodically, there are rumours of interest from Real Madrid, which are bound to be head-turning to an extent given his background. Yet, for now at least, Hernandez is content with his lot. "Ask any player in the world and they will tell you they want to play every game," he said. "But the competition here is incredible. "It is the biggest club in the world. You need to be aware there are five strikers who want to be part of the games. "I have to prove, in one minute or 90, that I want to start." The sight of Shinji Kagawa doing his own fitness work prior to kick-off adds another dimension for Ferguson's selection poser. But the main one is Van Persie, who took his tally to 16 on Wednesday, and whom has made such a massive impact since his ?24million move from Arsenal. "I am reluctant to subscribe to the cult of an individual because I firmly believe that the essence of a successful football team depends on teamwork," Ferguson told United Review. "But sometimes there really is a situation when you are lucky enough to find the last piece in the jigsaw. "We did it when we brought Eric Cantona to Old Trafford and it doesn't have to be signing someone for a record fee. "But I have no hesitation saying that he has made a vital difference." And, as Ferguson pointed out, it is not just the goals that make Van Persie such a stand-out performer. "Going into the holiday programme he had scored 15 times and with Wayne Rooney back among the goals we have a deadly duo," said Ferguson. "I have also lost count of our Dutchman's assists. "It is quite remarkable how quickly he has settled at Old Trafford. "It helped that he relished the move to Manchester and he is the consummate professional. "He has a good lifestyle with a great sense of responsibility. For instance, I have noticed the way he will speak to young players and encourage them. "That attitude is a real bonus for us. There is no doubt he has moved us forward as a team." Sundays's victory was the Light Blues' ninth in a row as they opened up a commanding 12-point lead at the top of the Scottish Third Division. Rangers initially struggled to adapt to life in Scottish football's bottom tier, following a tumultuous summer, but McCoist believes the confidence is back again. He said: "Keeping the momentum is really important because I think it has an effect on the opposition as well. "That's something we want to get back at Ibrox, we want teams to fear coming here and think there's the potential to get on the wrong end of a really poor result. "I can see the boys beginning to grow in confidence. "It's certainly not the best we've played this season but with victories comes a greater degree of confidence. "That adds to the strength of the team and I feel that's the case at the moment." David Templeton set up Lee Wallace for the opener before claiming a superb goal of his own, with a Dean Shiels strike rounding off the win. Templeton, who joined Rangers from Hearts on transfer deadline day, has impressed since making a return from ankle ligament damage. And McCoist believes the winger has the potential to become a fans' favourite like Rangers greats of the past. He said: "He's still got a long way to go. "He's rightly getting a lot of praise at the moment and he's coming good. "Remember, he had an eight or nine week rest after the ankle injury at Annan and, to be fair, he is paying us back all right at the moment. "I think you can see the relationship he is forming with the support, which will be very important to him. "The supporters have always had somebody like that, whether it was a Davie Cooper or a Brian Laudrup or a Paul Gascoigne. "They always had somebody who was a bit special to them and I think Temps has got the potential to be that kind of person." Clyde boss Jim Duffy said: "We were up against a far superior side, there is no question about that. "They have quality in all areas. They are at a different level from anyone in the Third Division. "You've got to accept, if you're up against that level you've just got to work hard and be disciplined and organised and, for the large part, I think we were. "It took exceptional goals to beat us." McDermott hopes his men have turned the corner after they ended a seven-match losing run and moved off the bottom of the Premier League with a goalless draw against Swansea. Jimmy Kebe recently criticised Russian owner Anton Zingarevich for not splashing the cash during the summer after the club won the Championship. With Reading still six points off safety at the halfway stage, McDermott wants to inject some top-flight experience into his squad during the transfer window. "We are talking at the moment regarding players. If we could bring in two or three players that could make a difference, it would be useful to the squad," McDermott said. "We don't generally deal in big prices. We try to get players that are available. I'd like to bring in two or three with a little bit of experience at the level. "Having said that, if we can bring in someone from somewhere who we think has potential and can play for us, then fine and that's what we have done with the group now." McDermott played down reports Reading could sign Arsenal forward Arshavin. Asked if there was any chance, McDermott said: "I don't think so. At this time of year you hear lots of rumours. I have heard that one." Reading came close to ending their losing streak against Manchester City, only to be denied the draw by a late Gareth Barry header. On Boxing Day, the Royals ground out the point and would have taken more had Swansea defender Chico Flores not managed to head Adam Le Fondre's late volley over his own bar. It was a drab Boxing Day encounter but McDermott's primary concern was stopping the rot, not laying on a festive footballing feast. "We need to do whatever we have to do to get results," McDermott said. "We were much more resilient. It is important to move on with a point and we can look forward with confidence to West Ham. "We have got a point and a clean sheet and we are off the bottom of the table." Four days after dispatching Fulham 4-0, the Reds lost 3-1 against Stoke at the Britannia Stadium - one of their bogey grounds - in a performance lacking in fight and application. Prior to the victory over the Cottagers, Rodgers' side had suffered a surprise loss at home to Aston Villa, and the Northern Irishman accepted the up and down nature of their results is hindering their attempts to move up the Premier League table. "Consistency is the biggest thing for the group," he said. "We were terrific at the weekend but you have to be able to put some runs of games together - if not you will make two or three steps forward and then take one or two back. "Maybe that has been the nature of the group over the last couple of years. "We are looking to improve that and there is an awful lot of work to do." Rodgers blamed the concession of soft goals for the defeat, which extended their winless run at the Britannia to five matches. Steven Gerrard had put them ahead from a penalty awarded after just 32 seconds but Jon Walters scored twice either side of a Kenwyne Jones header as the Potters ran out worthy winners. "We are 1-0 up at a difficult place to score goals and we wanted to gain the initiative from that," he added. "But the nature of the goals we conceded was very soft and if you do that it is always going to be uphill in terms of getting a result. "The first one is unfortunate as Martin Skrtel slips and Walters finished well, but the other two goals... we have to be better than that. "It was too soft: a corner that sneaks in at the near post and then from a throw-in. "You have to be better in those moments, especially against Stoke because you know that is a big part of their strength. "It is not all about football. You have to earn the right to play, particularly coming here. "I have no doubt about the characters we have but it was too easy." Stoke boss Tony Pulis said the way his side responded to their early setback reflected the confidence and character within the team as a whole. "It was a great result and performance," he said. "I thought the response after going a goal behind after just 30 seconds was absolutely fantastic and epitomises what the group are about at the moment. "We've played games where we've created more chances and finished 0-0 so we have been creating the chances but not been taking them. "We have tremendous respect for Liverpool and we are very proud to host a game against such a great club and when you beat them it gives you great delight, it is always special." Walters' second, controlling a flick-on from Jones on his chest and volleying past Jose Reina, was the pick of the goals and took him level with Ricardo Gardner as the club's all-time leading Premier League scorer with 18. "It was a great finish and I am very pleased for Walts," Pulis added. "His commitment to the group is fabulous and he is a good player as well." Defeat at Sunderland for the third successive season, coupled with United's battling 4-3 home victory over Newcastle, saw Sir Alex Ferguson's men reach the halfway stage of the Premier League season with a commanding lead, but one the Italian is confident is far from decisive. He said after the 1-0 loss: "It hasn't changed. At this moment, United are better than us, they are at the top, but we have time to recover. "We need to resolve our problems before and after, maybe we can win. It's no problem, seven points. "That's not important. We know United are a fantastic team and probably they will win every game, but the season is long and it is not important if it is six or seven or four points." The most pressing problem Mancini has to resolve, in his view, is their propensity to be "too soft" in attacking positions. They did pass up a series of opportunities at the Stadium of Light - skipper Vincent Kompany hit the bar with an early header and Yaya Toure, David Silva and Sergio Aguero were all denied by the excellent Simon Mignolet. Ultimately, it was City old boy Adam Johnson, who left the Etihad for Wearside in a ?10million summer switch, who proved the difference between the sides when his 53rd-minute shot squirmed underneath the flat-footed Joe Hart. Mancini was furious that Johnson had the chance to win the game after Pablo Zabaleta appeared to be caught by Craig Gardner during the build-up, but referee Kevin Friend waved play on. The City manager said: "How the referee can't see that foul, I don't know. "The referee ate too much for Christmas. He was not in good form. He and the linesman, I think, after Christmas, it can happen to have a bad performance like today." However, Mancini refused to criticise Hart for his part in the goal despite the keeper appearing to have moved too far to his right to get back across in time to repel Johnson's effort. He said: "Johnson was really clever because Joe thought that Johnson was going to cross and instead, he shot. "He did very well, Johnson."
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