With City and Arsenal, two points behind City in third, meeting on Wednesday, United were in a fine position to open up a cushion. They took 27 minutes to unlock Stoke’s defence, a crisp passing move ending with Javier Hernandez’s sublime back-heel converting Nani’s low ball from the right. It was the Mexico striker’s second goal in successive games, having also struck the winner against West Brom on Saturday.
Stoke bounced back, though, and drew level within five minutes of half-time when Dean Whitehead met Tuncay’s cross with a well-placed downward header. The result was decided just after the hour, Nani turning scorer with a delightful effort from just outside the edge of the penalty area.
In other games Fulham and Birmingham City both moved out of the bottom three. Fulham were comfortable 3-0 winners against West Brom, who have now lost five league games in a row, while Scott Dann’s 89th-minute goal helped Birmingham beat Blackpool 2-1.