Manchester United fought off a spirited West Brom at the Hawthorns to claim three points and reduce the deficit back down to 11 points after league leaders Manchester City beat Tottenham on Saturday.

By 90Min
December 17, 2017

Manchester United fought off a spirited West Brom at the Hawthorns to claim three points and reduce the deficit back down to 11 points after league leaders Manchester City beat Tottenham on Saturday.

It was a nervy last 15 minutes for the Red Devils after Gareth Barry gave the hosts hope after Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard put the hosts 2-0 up in the first half.

The first 25 minutes of the game were extremely forgettable, with both teams showing a lack of quality with regards to keeping the ball. There were no chances of note for either side, with United probing the most without success until the 26th minute.

Marcus Rashford, arguably United's brightest spark in the first half, worked some space down the left by shifting the ball on to his right foot and delivered a delicious cross for Lukaku, who had been fairly isolated up until that point, to head home in similar fashion to his goal against Bournemouth in midweek.

Interestingly, the £75m signing again chose not to celebrate his goal as his teammates congratulated him, and a replay later showed Jose Mourinho to have remained unmoved.

United doubled their lead rather fortuitously when Juan Mata laid off Lingard, whose strike took a heavy deflection off Ahmed Hegazi to completely wrong-foot Ben Foster.

West Brom were very poor, and were limited to just two chances in the first half, the first coming from Salomon Rondon whose close range effort was blocked after good work from Allan Nyom, and Jake Livermore's strike from the edge of the box which was easily dealt with by David de Gea.

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A bit of life was injected into the game after the teams came back out for the second half when Rashford went down under a challenge from Hegazi as he tried to run beyond the Egyptian - the pair then squared up and were both booked for their troubles.

The incident seemed to instill a bit more fight and urgency into the Baggies, who almost pulled one back moments later through one of Rondon or James McLean, only to be thwarted by some excellent defending by Antonio Valencia after a whipped Oliver Burke cross.

United were still the more threatening side though, and Lingard almost put the game beyond any doubt after exchanging passes with Lukaku, only to be denied by Foster from inside the penalty box.

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United rode their luck when McLean was bearing down on goal and Ashley Young barged him as De Gea claimed the loose ball - a penalty would seemingly have been West Brom's best chance of breaking their scoring duck.

They did finally do that, but not from the spot - Barry scrappily scored his first goal for Albion after a corner fell kindly to him unmarked at the back post, which prevented an 11th clean sheet for the Red Devils.

West Brom almost drew level in the 84th minute when substitute Jay Rodriguez and Chris Brunt combined. The Northern Ireland international swung in a cross which was headed just wide by his teammate.

The hosts really piled on the pressure with five minutes to go, and the usually reliable De Gea misjudged the flight of a corner and almost conceded, but Mourinho's side weathered the storm and managed to seal the win, and Alan Pardew's search for his first win as Albion boss continues.

For Mourinho all that matters is the result, and all they can do is win their games and hope that something of a slip up happens across the city.

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