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Match report: United 1 West Brom 0

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by

Mark Froggatt

Share With facebook Share With whatsapp Share With sina weibo Share With email A goalless first half at the Theatre of Dreams was followed by a dramatic second period, in which the Baggies had an early penalty correctly overturned by the referee David Coate with help from VAR.

Bruno Fernandes then saw a penalty saved by Sam Johnstone, but the former United Academy goalkeeper had stepped off his line and our influential no.18 made no mistake at the second time of asking. 

United went on to secure three points and, while it was not a vintage performance, a win after an international break is always welcome and the Reds have now moved up the table to ninth as a result. 

FIRST HALF - HONOURS EVEN

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made two changes to his previous starting XI by replacing the injured Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay with Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic, with the former making his Old Trafford debut. Notably, Paul Pogba was omitted from the 18-man squad to an ankle injury sustained with France. 

Wearing black armbands in tribute to the late Albert Quixall, United started brightly and Anthony Martial went close to scoring in the very first minute with a glancing header from Juan Mata’s cross, yet the outstanding opportunity of the opening stages arrived in the 17th minute. 

It started with Harry Maguire intercepting a loose ball on the half-way line, driving forward and playing it out wide to Marcus Rashford. His cross found Fernandes and the Portuguese teed up Martial, whose shot from close range was brilliantly saved by former United man Johnstone. 

Not to be outdone at the other end, United no.1 David De Gea showed his quality a moment later with a brilliant fingertip stop to prod Karlan Grant’s right-footed shot just inches wide of the post. 

The Baggies held a deep defensive line and that frustrated the Reds, yet Fernandes almost inspired an opening in the 33rd minute, with an outstanding pass towards the back post that Mata directed back into the six-yard box. A deflection off a defender left the ball lingering in the air and Martial was marginally beaten to a 50/50 by the advancing Johnstone. 

Maguire was next to go close with a thunderous volley that smashed into the face of West Brom captain Bartley, who went down in a heap as a result, yet he quickly rose to his feet and almost netted himself in the 42nd minute with a header that landed on the roof of De Gea’s goal.

SECOND HALF - BRUNO PENALTY DRAMA AT BOTH ENDS

The start of the second half was unusually delayed by 30 seconds or so after the referee Coate reprimanded a West Brom coach for running his players through a warm-up drill on the pitch – which, frustratingly, required a batch of cones to be retrieved from the far side of the pitch.

When the game eventually restarted, the official was in the thick of it straightaway: initially awarding a penalty to the visitors following an apparent foul by Fernandes on Conor Gallagher, before dramatically overturning the decision after consulting his VAR monitor at pitchside. 

But there was even more theatre to come: after De Gea had made a stunning save with his foot to deny Conor Townsend, United won a penalty at the other end when Mata’s cross struck the hand of Darnell Furlong. Fernandes saw his spot-kick saved by Johnstone, but the former Red had stepped off his line and our Portuguese playmaker successfully found the opposite corner with his retake.

West Brom manager Slaven Bilic made two changes shortly after that concession and one of his replacements, Callum Robinson, caught the eye when his curling shot bounced off the crossbar. Credit must be given to West Brom stopper Johnstone, who continued his superb performance with a couple of brilliant saves to deny Rashford and then Maguire. 

A tense finale ensued as rain fell down at Old Trafford and Solskjaer's Reds stuck together, thwarting a late West Brom rally and securing a valuable victory in the Premier League. 

United's attention now turns to the UEFA Champions League and an important Group H match against Istanbul Basaksehir on Tuesday at Old Trafford.

MATCH DETAILS

United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Telles, Fred (McTominay 83), Matic, Mata (Cavani 62), Fernandes, Rashford (van de Beek 79), Martial. 

Subs not used: Henderson, Tuanzebe, Williams, James.

Booked: Cavani

West Brom: Johnstone, Furlong, Bartley (c), Ivanovic (Krovinovic 79), Ajayi, Townsend, Gallagher, Sawyers, Diangana (Robson-Kanu 62), Pereira, Grant (Robinson 62).

Subs not used: Button, Phillips, Harper, O'Shea.

Booked: Gallagher

by

Mark Froggatt

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