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

Monday 12th March 2012
Going into this game, I felt quietly confident that West Brom could pick something up. We were in good form with three consecutive wins, in which we'd scored 10 and conceded just one, and Manchester United were not looking the champions that they were this time last year.

However, it was to be yet another Baggie dream, despite the side putting up a battling performance to be proud of.

The Albion were forced to make two changes from the team that beat Chelsea last time out, with Gabriel Tamas and Chris Brunt replacing the injured Steven Reid and Jerome Thomas respectively. On the bench, Paul Scharner, Somen Tchoyi and Luke Daniels were all included. Manchester United made one change with Javier Hernandez coming in for Nani.

This game was potentially United's biggest of the season considering the loss they had on Thursday night in the Europa League. This pressure was felt inside the ground by the home fans and players, when in the opening stages West Brom could well have snatched a lead as Keith Andrews poked the ball just wide after being setup by Liam Ridgewell and James Morrison.

This seemed to be a wakeup call for United, but soon after there was another chance for the Baggies when Morrison shot over from the edge of the area. These early exchanges made the Albion's vociferous vocal support increase, making the only noise within a rather quiet Old Trafford.

Manchester United soon turned up the heat and pressure on the Albion when Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck were involved in some fantastic build-up play, culminating in Young's shot being pushed away by former United keeper Ben Foster. Wayne Rooney soon had his first shot at goal minutes later, but this went wide.

The Albion were the next to have a chance with a free-kick about 30 yards out. Andrews tested the goal yet again, with his shot being saved by David de Gea. The ensuing corner then saw Liam Ridgewell head wide.

Despite this pressure from the Albion, the home team still looked the more comfortable and United could very well have taken the lead when Rooney was denied a tap-in by Jonas Olsson after some nice build up play between Young and Welbeck, who were causing the visitors a lot of trouble.

With United playing like this it was really only a matter of time before they got a goal, and in the 36th minute Rooney fired them ahead. Hernandez had taken a shot at goal from the right which was covered well by Foster, only for Rooney to react quickly and poke the ball into the net like he has done so many times this season.

Just before the whistle blew for half time, the home team had another chance when Olsson denied Welbeck a clear sight of goal after some lovely passing between the Reds.

Half time came and went, with no changes being made. The Albion started the second half off the brighter team, and six minutes into the game should have had a penalty when Peter Odemwingie was fouled in the box by Patrice Evra. The referee waved play on much to the surprise of the away team and fans. Looking back at TV replays, it was clearly a penalty as Evra's foot made contact with Odemwingie.

After the penalty shout, United surged up field and Hernandez hit the post from just inside the box. Then seconds later, Rooney attempted an overhead kick which flew straight into the hands of Foster. United soon had another golden chance to wrap the game up when Welbeck shot wide of an open net after a punt up field by Paul Scholes.

Then disaster struck for the Baggies as Jonas Olsson was sent off for a second bookable offence, making the already difficult task look like an almost impossible mission. United capitalised on their one man advantage and Foster was called upon to yet again make a fantastic save when Young shot from 15 yards.

Olsson's absence was sorely felt moments later, when makeshift right back Andrews gave away a penalty. Andrews pulled down Young in the box and from the spot, Rooney doubled the advantage and it looked to be game over.

Substitute Shane Long still believed something was in the game and just before the end he shot at goal only to be denied by David de Gea. United went on to have a couple more chances, but when the final whistle came along, United fans seemed to be more thrilled with the news coming out of Swansea than the fact they had just beaten us. The stadium soon erupted when everyone knew former West Brom striker Luke Moore (yes, him of all people) had scored the decisive winner for Swansea against rivals City.

This weekend could prove to be the most decisive of the season, apart from when the two teams meet in April. But for us Albion fans it was a case of 'what if.' If that penalty had been given, and it went to 1-1, who knows what would have happened. United did outshine us during the game, and could have had more goals if it wasn't for the excellent Foster. But even with ten men we still battled to get something out of the game, something to make us Albion fans proud.

Next up for Albion is Wigan away. Undoubtedly this will be a tough game as Wigan arefighting for their lives, but if we play like we did at Old Trafford and in previous games, then we should get something. After all, not many teams come away from Old Trafford with much these days. Still, all I can suggest to the Albion faithful is to pull out the DVDs of the 5-3 game and enjoy some cracking football the last time we beat United.

Man of the Match: Ben Foster. Without some of his saves, the game could well have descended into a hammering by the champions, but Foster showed his skills between the posts and pulled off some real super saves.
Alex Horton

Total articles: 18

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