At the start of today West Brom lied 13 places below United in the table, but recent performances against the supposed ‘big four’ beating the likes of Arsenal and taking a point away from Old Trafford have proved they’re no pushovers. West Brom went into this match on the run of 2 wins in their last 6, not ideal for a team wanting to avoid relegation. United had let a 1-0 lead slip away to the hands of Birmingham on Monday night, as they once again proved their defencive capabilities. Today was the first match of 2011 and we couldn’t have been treated to more of a feast, with open football on display the whole match and that was accompanied by a few goals as well. United prevailed, just, but it was undeserved with West Brom dominating large portions of the game and could have won it early on in the second half, only for striker Peter Odemwingie to squander a game changing penalty.
|Rooney opens the scoring|
From the off, this game was played with tenacity and an early goal paved the way for United. Obertan had done well on the left wing attracting two West Brom players and when he passed it back to Evra, he supplied the vital cross that led to Wayne Rooney claiming his first open goal since March and also ending his drought of going 1418 without a goal in open play.
The lead was short lived, however, when West Brom equalised through James Morrison. A long ball from the back was nodded towards Morrison, who produced a fantastic half volley to level the scores. The game continued to enthrall, with West Brom uncharacteristically the stronger of the two. West Brom were first to everything and were gifted possession from United nearly every time they had the ball.
Midway through the first half West Brom should have had a penalty. Graham Dorrens was put through from a lovely ball from Odemwingie, controlled it well and a sliding tackle from Gary Neville seemed to have given West Brom a penalty but Chris Foy was having none of it. It caused some controversy upstairs in the Sky studio and also with Andy Gray as it was clearly a penalty.
The second half was more or less the same as the first, with the Baggies bossing possession, but often failing to produce an end product. Fergie decided enough was enough, and reduced Gary Neville, bringing on Rafael to try and get some more fluency amongst the United offence.
Halfway through the second half, West Brom were given a golden chance to dent United’s title aspirations when Jerome Thomas had broke free and was tripped by Rio Ferdinand. Odemwingie stepped up for what would be his 7th goal of the season but poor concentration led to him missing the target altogether, dragging it right of Kuszczsak’s goal.
What was influential in United’s winner was the introduction of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez. Berbatov had been virtually non existent and so, Fergie decided to bring on the ‘little pea’, hoping he could get on the end of something and lead United to a win. And he did just that on 75 minutes.. A corner from Wayne Rooney had reached Hernandez who had been marked inadvertantly, nodded home, getting only United’s second away win of the season.
It was undeserved to say the least for the visitors, but that’s what happens when you’re top of the league. Luck swings in your favour when you’re at the summit and it dealt a massive blow to the Baggies’, considering they were on top for chunks of the game.
It didn’t change anything for either team as the Baggies stay 14th and United stay atop of the Premier League.