Manchester United 2-0 West Brom: Lingard stars

Credit: GiveMeSport
Credit: GiveMeSport /

Manchester United secured the three points at Old Trafford against West Brom with yet another clean sheet and goals from Jesse Lingard who again stood out and Juan Mata.

Louis van Gaal stuck with the starting XI that narrowly beat CSKA Moscow in the midweek Champions League clash, opting to again use Daley Blind instead of Phil Jones at the heart of the defence. Jesse Lingard received another chance with the senior team and, as has been the case prior, capitalised on his opportunity. Anthony Martial got the start at striker with Wayne Rooney playing in the no. 10 role just behind him.

The first half dragged on with the same lack of attacking drive that has plagued the Manchester United team under van Gaal. Towards the end of the first 45 minutes, however, the Red Devils came close to scoring on a couple occasions. Juan Mata had the first real chance of the match after a Rooney pass found him in space just inside the box. The Spaniard turned and struck at goal, but his placement was narrowly off as the shot curled just outside the far post.

Lingard and Martial continued the pressure, though neither found their way into the goalscorer’s column. After being played through on goal, the winger had his shot blocked by former Manchester United man Jonny Evans, who slid in to keep the tie intact. The French striker, too, was held at bay following a clever turn that ultimately resulted in a shot too central, and Boaz Myhill saved comfortably.

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Despite the goalless first half, West Brom was under constant pressure in their own half. With Salomon Rondon failing to hold up play in the striker position for the Baggies, and the defence proving shaky before the break, the home team looked certain to score in the second half.

And it was only seven minutes into the second when that goal came. Martial played a hopeful ball into the box which West Brom half-headed clear as it fell to Lingard. The 22 year-old coolly placed his strike from outside the box into the side netting at the far post, giving Myhill no chance. After providing the winning assist against CSKA, he again validated van Gaal’s decision to include him in the starting lineup.

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The Baggies forayed forward more after going down a goal as they were forced to search for an equalizer, but their crosses into the box failed to find their targets. To further urge his team to attack, Tony Pulis sent on Rickie Lambert and Saido Berahino for the final 20 minutes of the match. On the ensuing free kick, Darren Fletcher gave his side it’s best scoring chance of the match, but his glancing header drifted harmlessly wide.

The Manchester United defense, featuring Phil Jones who came on to replace Ashley Young, caught a huge break as the second half wore on, with Berahino missing the best chance of  the match for either side. After a Craig Dawson cross found the striker completely unmarked in the United box, he sent his header, off the top of his head, high and wide.

With West Brom’s best chance of the game having gone horribly wrong, United looked to see out the remainder of the match with Rooney and Marcos Rojo going off in favor of Ander Herrera and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson. The 18 year old from United’s U-21 team received his senior debut, though he was rather untested.

As the game reached stoppage time, the Red Devils went on to double their advantage and secure the victory. Herrera played Martial in behind the opposition’s defense, forcing Gareth McCauley to make a reckless tackle on the 19 year-old. Mike Dean subsequently sent off the defender and awarded United a penalty, which Mata calmly drove into the center of the net. After four minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew.

Next: Pereira looking for more chances

Despite a somewhat lackluster attacking display, the team scored multiple goals for the first time since the 3-0 win over Everton. The result is also the first time this season that the Reds will go into an international break after securing three points.