LONDON Troubled though his early months at Manchester United have been, manager David Moyes can rest easy that his side have lost none of the fighting spirit they used to display regularly under Alex Ferguson.
When the champions fell 2-0 down after 13 minutes at Hull City on Thursday, United's seemed set to choke on their Christmas turkey but they hit back to win 3-2 and edge closer to the pack at the top of the Premier League.
Former United prospect James Chester had scored after four minutes and United's defense was at sixes and sevens when David Meyler made it 2-0.
United were level before halftime, however, with talisman Wayne Rooney leading by example, curling in a free kick which Chris Smalling headed home and equalizing with a stunning shot from distance - his 150th Premier League goal.
United rode their luck at times after the break, but Chester's own goal meant they moved up to seventh and are beginning to look like a force again.
Victory made it five in a row in all competitions, the team's best run since Moyes took over.
"I always thought we'd go on and win it," Moyes told MUTV. "What we've got here is the capability and I don't think there would have been one supporter who thought that the game was over (when we went two down), I certainly didn't.
"My only concern was Hull's defensive record here this season, I think they'd only conceded three goals prior to today. Thankfully, by halftime we were back level and I even thought we should have been 3-2 up by that point."
United survived late Hull pressure after having Antonio Valencia sent off but hung on.
"When we got the third goal I really wanted the lads to go on and score again and get that fourth goal to avoid the scary moments that we had in the last five minutes," Moyes said.
The Scot had special praise for Rooney whose form has been one of the major positives in United's difficult season.
"It was a great volley," Moyes said.
"We know that Wayne's capable of that and that he can score all sorts of goals."
Rooney, whose pressure forced Chester to head into his own net, said the victory had been crucial as United try to get back amongst the league leaders, following a mediocre start.
"We didn't start well today and when it got to 2-0 (down) we knew that we were going to have to dig deep and show our fighting spirit," Rooney told Sky Sports.
"We are starting to show some real quality now," added Rooney. "We're having a go and we're fighting for each other."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond)