Manchester United hold on to win at West Bromwich Albion
West Bromwich Albion 1 - 2 Manchester United

Manchester United hold on to win at West Bromwich Albion

17/12/2017

Manchester United held on for a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion to cut neighbours Manchester City's lead at the top of the Premier League back to 11 points.

United made a positive start, but West Brom were first to engineer a promising move as Salomon Rondon fed James McClean, whose cross evaded Oliver Burke.

As the quarter of an hour mark approached, the visitors created danger when Ashley Young's threatening cross was headed away from Romelu Lukaku by Kieran Gibbs.

There was a lack of tempo to proceedings, with both sides guilty of giving the ball away cheaply and neither able to capitalise.

But the deadlock was broken after 27 minutes when Romelu Lukaku, a former West Brom loanee, powered home a header to put United in front after Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford had combined to set him up.

The goal -- not celebrated by Lukaku -- came from the first effort on target of a forgettable half and sparked West Brom into life as Burke surged forward but was tackled before he could find Rondon.

Minutes later, the stretching Rondon just failed to get a near-post touch to a dangerous low cross as Alan Pardew's side began to threaten.

But with 10 minutes remaining until the break West Brom found themselves two down as Jesse Lingard's shot deflected in off Ahmed Hegazi after neat build-up from Lukaku and Mata.

Two minutes before the break, David De Gea held Jake Livermore's strike from outside the area as United reached the halfway mark with a comfortable advantage.

Pardew brought on Gareth Barry for Claudio Yacob as the hosts made a half-time change, and they showed their intent to find an early goal when Gibbs fired in a low shot that fizzed wide.

Soon afterwards, an angry confrontation between Hegazi and Rashford saw the United man booked for his reaction, and 10 minutes into the half Barry's low effort was too close to De Gea.

In an encouraging spell for home fans, Burke's dangerous cross seemed to be heading for Rondon before Antonio Valencia did well to get it away.

But United soon showed the danger they posed on the counter-attack, coming close twice in as many minutes as first Rashford fired narrowly wide from an angle and then Lingard was denied by Foster after a neat exchange with Lukaku.

West Brom replaced Burke with striker Jay Rodriguez, and United then had a problem as Valencia suffered what looked like a hamstring strain and was taken off for Marcos Rojo.

A moment of hesitation from Young almost let McClean in before De Gea claimed and then Rondon scuffed a shot at the keeper after a pass from Chris Brunt, who had replaced Grzegorz Krychowiak.

And with 13 minutes remaining, West Brom's efforts bore fruit as United switched off from a corner and, when the ball ricocheted through to Barry, he fired home from close range to put the Baggies back into the game.

Jose Mourinho responded by replacing Rashford with Anthony Martial, but West Brom were in the ascendancy and began to pen United back.

Phil Jones produced a good defensive header as Rodriguez lurked behind him before, with four minutes of the 90 remaining, the same player headed wide from a Brunt cross when he should have done better.

But after a Barry cross-shot had been scrambled away, United could have sealed things with a third goal only for Lukaku's mis-hit to bobble wide of goal.

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