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Match Report: Manchester United 2-0 West Bromwich Albion (United Fan's Perspective)

Tuesday 13th March 2012
Having tackled a tough run of games between January and March  Manchester United found themselves just two points behind title rivals Manchester City going into a difficult challenge in the form of Roy Hodgson's West Brom.

United made one change to the side that started against Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday, with Nani missing through injury and replaced by Javier Hernandez. This move saw Danny Welbeck start wide on the right rather than his preferred centre forward role. After much "Twitter talk" about the future of young starlet Paul Pogba and a potential move to Juventus the French midfielder was selected on the bench, almost certainly quashing any rumours. West Brom recalled Peter Odemwingie into the starting lineup with Ben Foster starting in goal against his former club.

United started the game at a much higher tempo than had been evident against Bilbao in midweek, as West Bromwich kept a solid defensive line with near enough 10 men behind the ball. But the first chance of the game fell to Albion in the 7th minute when a wonderful Liam Ridgewell cross found Keith Andrews at the near post and the former Blackburn man only managed to put the ball wide of David De Gea's goal.

United had their first chance of the game in the 10th minute when an Ashley Young shot was stopped by Foster. De Gea then made another save straight out of the top drawer low down to his right from a deflected Andrews free kick.

West Brom were defending solidly with United struggling to break through, as much of the Champions' play came through Patrice Evra and Young on the left hand side. A good Young corner was met by the head of Welbeck, but the England centre forward's header went over the bar.

The breakthrough came for United in the 36th minute after a surging run from Hernandez allowed the Mexican to fire a shot in from the right hand side of the box. But the shot never reached the keeper as Wayne Rooney made a well timed run to flick the ball past Ben Foster to make it 1-0. This score stayed the same until half-time with Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes completely controlling the tempo of the game, as they have done so often since they were reunited in January.

The second half began with Jonas Olsson picking up a yellow card for a late challenge on Rooney. United were once again in the ascendancy but couldn't turn their dominance into a second goal.

The first flash point of the second half was in the 53rd minute when Odemwingie was holding the ball up well inside the penalty area before seemingly being tripped by Evra. Referee Lee Probert waved away the Nigerian's penalty appeals and the game carried on to the disbelief of Odemwingie.

In the 59th minute Scholes delivered a world class pass over the top of the West Brom defence which found Welbeck. The striker rounded Foster effortlessly but his side footed effort just narrowly crept wide of the left hand post.

Things worsened for Albion in the 66th minute when Olsson unged into a tackle on Hernandez only to see the little Mexican nick the ball past him. Olsson caught Hernandez and the referee had no choice but to issue the second yellow card.

United doubled their lead just 5 minutes later when Young was fouled in the box and Rooney coolly tucked the resulting penalty into the bottom right hand corner. With United confident that the points had been assured Sir Alex introduced the much talked about Pogba into the match, the young Frenchman was given a mixed reception with some sections of the crowd deeming his behaviour in recent times unacceptable. Full credit to Pogba, the young man got on with his game and was involved in some neat intricate Manchester United moves in the remaining 20 minutes.

The game was drifting to a close when in the 82nd minute Old Trafford erupted into celebration with the news that Swansea had taken the lead against Manchester City. This lifted the atmosphere of the game completely and although there were no further chances at Old Trafford the crowd's attention was now heavily focused towards events at the Liberty Stadium.

The match finished 2-0 to United and Swansea managed to hold onto their 1-0 lead over City to propel United to the top of the Premier League table heading into the final 10 games of the season.

A United win and a City defeat created what could well be a pivotal weekend in this season's title race, but as we well know nothing can be taken for granted in the Premier League. United must fight tooth and nail to hold onto the top spot with the big fixture on April 30th at Eastlands prominent in the thoughts of many fans.

Man of the match: Jonny Evans.   Another solid performance from the Northern Ireland international. Once again his reading of the game was tremendous and he was well guarded against the pace of Odemwingie and the strength of Fortune, giving them absolutely no change all afternoon. Another top performance from Jonny is every increasingly turning him into one of the first names on Sir Alex Ferguson's teamsheet.
Chris Winterburn

Total articles: 17

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