Barclays Premier League
Manchester United vs. West Bromwich Albion
Venue: Old Trafford
Date: Saturday, 7 November 2015
Kick-off: 15:00 GMT
Manchester United defeated West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford thanks to second half goals from Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata.
Lingard bagged his first goal for United, in front of the Stretford End, after claiming the assist for Wayne Rooney’s winner in midweek at the same end.
Mata secured the victory in stoppage time from the penalty spot, as Gareth McAuley was subsequently sent off for bringing down Anthony Martial in the build-up.
In a first half dominated by United possession, clear cut chances came few and far between, with Rooney’s great touch and turn ending up with him shooting high into the stands.
Martial outmuscled ex-United defender Jonny Evans, but the former’s low cross fell behind Rooney inside the area.
Rooney then did well to play the ball to Mata, whose attempt to bend his shot into the far behind led to the ball just falling wide.
Mata then curled a delivery towards the far post, but Craig Dawson headed behind before Lingard to meet the cross, with Bastian Schweinsteiger heading wide from the resulting corner.
Lingard, United’s man-of-the-match from Tuesday night’s win over CSKA, burst into the box but saw a shot deflect behind off Evans.
Dawson was booked for pulling Lingard back, and although Rooney’s resulting free-kick was cleared to Martial, the Frenchman’s effort fell straight into the arms of Boaz Myhill, as half-time arrived.
Into the second half and the tempo was similar to that of the first half, but one swing of Lingard’s right foot gave United the lead.
As the ball fell at the feet of the youngster, he took one touch to set, before bending an immaculate finish into the far corner, with Myhill having no chance of saving.
Salomon Rondon was booked for a late challenge, with Marcos Rojo also cautioned by referee Mike Dean for tripping up Stephane Sessegnon.
Another yellow card was then brandished to Chris Brunt, but the colour should have been red, for a nasty challenge on Mata, catching the Spaniard’s ankle.
Fortunate to remain on the pitch, Brunt’s manager Tony Pulis rang the changes in search of an equaliser, and they should have been back on level terms, but substitute Saido Berahino somehow managed to head Dawson’s cross over the bar.
With United seeming content to settle for what they had, and West Brom looking like accepting defeat, Martial was then hauled down by McAuley, with Mike Dean this time having no choice but to send the veteran defender down the tunnel early.
Mata kept his composure, sending Myhill to his right whilst firing the ball down the middle of the goal, with the three points remaining in the northwest.
Despite Berahino’s chance, United never looked like conceding, and this is now five clean sheets in succession, with just one goal conceded in the seven games since the defeat to Arsenal early last month, and that was a tap in after a penalty save away to CSKA Moscow.
The chances and goals have dried up a little bit, but United are keeping the ball well, and forked out the win that they craved on the afternoon.
United’s next fixture at Old Trafford falls on November 25, when PSV Eindhoven visit in the Champions League, with back-to-back away league games falling either side of that, firstly against Watford on November 21, before a trip to Leicester City on November 28.
This win sends Louis van Gaal’s side away for international duty in good spirits, as they maintain their position in the top four.
Manchester United: De Gea; Young (Jones 62), Smalling, Blind, Rojo (Borthwick-Jackson 76); Carrick, Schweinsteiger; Mata, Lingard; Rooney (Herrera 82), Martial.
Subs: Romero, Jones, Borthwick-Jackson, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Pereira, Memphis.
Manager: Louis van Gaal
West Brom: Myhill; Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Brunt (McManaman 85); Sessegnon, Morrison (Berahino 72), Fletcher, Yacob, McClean; Rondon (Lamber 72).
Subs: Lindegaard, Olsson, Chester, Gardner, McManaman, Lambert, Berahino.
Manager: Tony Pulis