Hernandez has been a substitute due to the presence of superstar striker Robin Van Persie, but proved that he can be a key contributor in turning around the Red Devils’ 2013-14 season.
Losing to the Potters would have set United back considerably under first-year manager David Moyes, who has struggled in the early going to replace the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson.
Entering the match, Hernandez had not scored a goal yet in English Premier League play, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
When the Red Devils trailed 2-1 late in Saturday’s English Premier League fixture, the defending trophy winners needed someone to step up in a desperate way. That’s when the 25-year-old Hernandez delivered in the 80th minute, heading in a goal to follow Wayne Rooney’s equalizer just two minutes prior.
The winner was set up with a beautiful cross from Patrice Evra, which sailed to a nearly unmarked Hernandez. He redirected into the bottom right corner of the net, beating goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, whose attempted dive came up empty.
It allowed United to escape with three points rather than one and was critical in getting the current campaign back on track.
That boosts Manchester United to eighth in the EPL table with 14 points, trailing leaders Arsenal by eight. There is still plenty of season left, but this win was critical in establishing some momentum for a club that is still in transition amid an era of uncertainty.
Moyes intimated earlier in the week that Hernandez would not be moved during the transfer window beginning in January, and implied he would play an integral part in United's season.
Any more help the Red Devils can enlist on the attack would be welcome, as they have yielded 12 goals in nine EPL games. They conceded two to a Stoke City club that had only four goals in their prior eight—an EPL low.
If Hernandez's breakthrough on Saturday was any indication, perhaps there's some merit to Moyes' stance about not moving the Mexican international.
The Red Devils could certainly use more production from Hernandez in their struggle to retain supremacy in the league. Moyes would be wise to utilize him more before Hernandez becomes too buried on the bench and requests out of Old Trafford.