West Brom 0 – 3 Manchester United
West Brom XI: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Amalfitano, Gera, Brunt, Anichebe
Man Utd XI: De Gea, Rafael, Smalling, Jones, Evra, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Rooney, Januzaj, Van Persie
Pepe Mel was still searching for his first win as West Brom manager going into today’s game. United were starting with their strongest attacking four; Mata, Januzaj, Rooney and van Persie. Moyes also opted for his youngest centre-half partnership of Jones and Smalling. This decision must have been with next season already in mind in light of the midweek confirmation of Vidic’s upcoming move to Internazionale.
The Baggie’s looked in control early on without actually creating any chances on goal. After the ten minute mark United eventually started getting forward and exerting pressure on Ridgewell at left-back. Rafael had clearly been given licence to get forward today and along with the fluid interchanging of roles between the attacking four United begin asking questions of West Brom’s defence. On fifteen minutes Fellaini caused trouble from a Rooney corner, his header being cleared off the line by Mulumbu.
Neither team had shown a cutting-edge in the first twenty-five minutes with both Foster and De Gea having a very quiet afternoon this far. Chris Brunt then managed to get a cross in from the left which Amalfitano met at the near post but his header went into the side-netting. Moments later United had their best chance. Januzaj showed great control on the left, getting his cross in around Steven Reid. Rafael got his head to it at the far-post but Foster managed to palm it onto the cross bar. The rebound didn’t fall kindly for Rooney and West Brom escaped.
Mulumbu was doing great work as always in central midfield for the home-side and Anichebe’s strength was allowing him to hold the ball up for the supporting Gera, Brunt and Amalfitano.
Untied then broke the deadlock. Rafael was fouled on the right-hand corner of the box as he cut inside of Chris Brunt. Van Persie put in the free-kick with pace and Jones only had to hit the target with his header for the power to take it past Foster.
West Brom responded well after going behind. Brunt put a corner in which Olsson put back across the goal only for Yacob’s effort to deflect off his shoulder and over the bar. Yacob went off a few minutes later for James Morrison after a collision with Fellaini. Victor Anichebe put a shot wide before half-time after holding off Jones. West Brom were pushing higher now looking for an equaliser before the break.
Mata played a high ball forward and Foster advanced from his box. He completely missed his kick outside the box and the ball bounced against his left hand. It was an accidental handball and play continued. United still felt aggrieved after this as Van Persie would have been clean through on goal if it had not been for the hand of Foster.
At the other end West Brom had one more chance before half-time. A cross came in from the left but Gera turned his back on the ball just as it seemed he was about to head it at goal. United led 1-0 at the interval.
In the second half West Brom displayed more urgency. Gera and Anichebe combined inside the box before Gera had his shot saved at the near post by De Gea. In the fifty-fifth minute van Persie put in a dangerous challenge on Steven Reid deep in West Brom territory. Van Persie had already been booked in the first-half. He was very lucky to remain on the pitch.
The atmosphere at the Hawthorn’s intensified after the Van Persie challenge. Anichebe put in a shot-cum-cross that was cleared from the far-post by Rafael just as Brunt was closing in to finish.
United then stepped it up a gear. Rooney and Mata exchanged passes outside the box. The ball made its way to Rafael wide on the right. The young Brazilian floated in a great cross to the back post. Rooney, unmarked, headed home easily to make it 2-0. By now the fight was disappearing from West Brom. Ridgewell had a shot bounce into the ground and when the ball arrived in the path of Anichebe he headed it over from very close range.
Moyes introduced both Kagawa and Welbeck. The latter replacing Van Persie in a smart move considering how close he had been to a sending-off. It was Welbeck who made it 3-0 with a goal right out of the top drawer. Rooney, Mata and Fellaini were all involved in the move ending with Rooney’s perfectly-timed ball for Welbeck. The young striker scored his tenth goal of the season with a brilliant right-footed finish, curling his shot in off the far-post as Foster advanced.
3-0 was how it finished and Moyes looked a happy man. United had displayed a swagger and style in the second-half that has not been evident most of this season. Pepe Mel’s wait for victory in the Premier League goes on.
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