By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - It is unlikely David Moyes has had time to read Alex Ferguson's latest autobiography yet but the way his Manchester United pulled a victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday was straight out of the old master's manual.
Trailing 2-1 at home to Stoke City in the 78th minute the black clouds looming over Old Trafford looked ominous for Moyes who was staring at a fourth defeat in nine Premier League games since taking over from the retired Ferguson.
Then Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez, just as they so often did under Ferguson, dug United out of a hole.
Rooney equalised with a glancing header and with sighs of relief still echoing around the stadium, substitute Hernandez met a curling Patrice Evra ball into the box with deft header two minutes later to break Stoke's hearts.
It was a familiar scenario, but after last month's defeat by West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford and conceding a last-minute equaliser against Southampton last week, the escape was hugely significant for Moyes as he wrestles with his new job.
Ferguson's book had made the headlines for most of the week but on Saturday the spotlight was firmly on the man charged with loading the United juggernaut with more silverware.
Wide-eyed and pale-faced when his side were booed at halftime, Moyes could at last afford a smile when he walked off at the end of a gripping game in which goals from Peter Crouch and Marko Arnautovic had put Stoke little more than 10 minutes from their first victory at Old Trafford since 1976.
"It was a big challenge to make sure we won the game but we did it. We showed great energy after the midweek game against Real Sociedad to go until the end," Moyes said.
"Stoke have not scored many but they have not conceded many either, so we knew we would have to work hard after going behind. I was worried it wouldn't come - especially when we were 2-1 down. But I think we deserved it in the end.
"We kept at it and deserved to score."
While victory was welcome for Moyes, United remain in eighth spot, eight points behind leaders Arsenal, and there is still plenty of improvement needed if his side are to have a realistic chance of defending their title.
"We had more than one or two defensive issues but our goalkeeper was fantastic," he said. "We didn't defend as well as what we would like. It may be a turning point - we know we have got to do it in style here at Old Trafford."