Premier League

Live Commentary: West BromWest Bromwich Albion 1-2 Man UtdManchester United

By , Editor | 1y
Relive Manchester United's 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion as goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard fire Jose Mourinho's side to victory at The Hawthorns.

Manchester United held off a spirited fightback from West Bromwich Albion to run out 2-1 winners at The Hawthorns this afternoon and reduce the gap to leaders Manchester City back to 11 points.

Two goals in the space of eight first-half minutes from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard put United in control of the contest at the halfway stage following a largely uneventful opening 45 minutes.

Gareth Barry was the unlikely man to get West Brom's first goal of the Alan Pardew era, but their search for an equaliser ultimately came up short as United held on for the victory.

Find out how all of the action unfolded courtesy of Sports Mole's minute-by-minute updates below.

Good afternoon! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's Premier League clash between struggling West Bromwich Albion and high-flying Manchester United at Old Trafford!

This match pits second-from-bottom against second-from-top, with both sides desperate for victory today for very different reasons. The Baggies dropped into the bottom three yesterday while United saw the gap to Manchester City grow even bigger, placing even greater importance on this match for both sides.

Before we take a closer look at that, though, let's first check out the team news...

WEST BROM STARTING XI: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs; Burke, Livermore, Yacob, Krychowiak, McClean; Rondon
WEST BROM SUBS: Myhill, Robson-Kanu, Brunt, Barry, Rodriguez, McAuley, Field
MAN UTD STARTING XI: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku
MAN UTD SUBS: Romero, Lindelof, Rojo, Shaw, McTominay, Ibrahimovic, Martial
What can we make of those two sides, then?

Well, we will have a look at the hosts in a short while, but let's start with that Manchester United starting lineup as Jose Mourinho makes three changes from the midweek win over Bournemouth. Mourinho handed rare starts to McTominay and Shaw during that match, but they both drop to the bench this afternoon alongside Anthony Martial, with Ashley Young, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford coming in in their place.

Leading the line today will be former West Bromwich Albion loanee Romelu Lukaku, who memorably scored a hat-trick on his last appearance in this fixture - a game which also happened to be Sir Alex Ferguson's final game in charge of United.

The Belgian scored three goals in that incredible 5-5 draw at The Hawthorns, and should he repeat that feat today then he would become the first player in Premier League history to score a hat-trick for both teams in a single fixture. His record against the so-called smaller clubs is good too, netting 30 goals in 38 appearances versus teams outside the established top six since the beginning of last season.

Lukaku's form has certainly tailed off following his blistering start to the season, though, so United may need others to step up and help to shoulder the goalscoring burden throughout the rest of the campaign.

Jesse Lingard has done that to good effect in recent weeks, while Martial has also been in good form in front of goal this season, but the Red Devils probably need more from the likes of Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata in the final third.

Mourinho is without the injured Eric Bailly and suspended Paul Pogba again today, while Mkhitaryan is once again left out of the squad entirely as uncertainty continues to swirl over his future.

Ashley Young does return at left-back, though, while Jones and Smalling resume their centre-back partnership despite the return to fitness of Rojo. Fellaini remains out with a knee injury, which means Herrera comes in alongside Matic in the middle of the park.

Behind them all will be the excellent David de Gea, who has now kept 24 clean sheets since the beginning of the season - a tally which can only be matched by Atletico's Jan Oblak in Europe's top five leagues.

As for West Brom, Alan Pardew has made only one change from the battling 0-0 draw with Liverpool at Anfield in midweek, with Hal Robson-Kanu dropping out of the side to be replaced by Oliver Burke, who is handed a rare start.

The formation looks like nominally being a 4-3-3 system once again, although as was the case against Liverpool that is more likely to be a 4-5-1 at best in practice should United dominate the ball as expected this afternoon.

The Baggies certainly didn't park the bus at Anfield, though, and there have been signs that Pardew is trying to change the way his side are playing since his arrival, even if that hasn't been reflected on the scoreboard.

Salomon Rondon once again leads the line for West Brom this afternoon, and his main job here is likely to be to hold the ball up and relieve pressure. It is a role that he is more than capable in, but the Venezuelan striker is not exactly a prolific goalscorer.

Pardew is still without a number of key players at the moment, with Chadli, Dawson and Morrison all still sidelined and Matt Phillips and Gareth Barry also failing to recover in time for this match - although they were considered possible options in the build-up to the contest.

Barry could have made his 36th Premier League appearance against United this afternoon, which would have left Ryan Giggs (38 vs. Liverpool) as the only player to have faced an opponent more often, but he has failed to recover from a thigh injury in time.

There will be plenty of eyes on Jonny Evans this afternoon, with the Northern Irishman coming up against his former club amid rumours that they could make an attempt to re-sign him in the January window.

United are one of a few clubs understood to be interested in Evans - along with the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal - and a strong performance against Lukaku and co. could just add a couple more million onto his price tag should the Baggies be considering cashing in on their skipper.

The big question for Jonny Evans to answer is whether he wants to see things through until at least the end of the season for West Brom and attempt to save them from relegation, or whether he risks not playing as much first-team football for a club challenging at the opposite end of the table.

West Brom's form at the moment may well be making his mind up for him, though, with the Baggies coming into this game having failed to win any of their last 16 outings across all competitions - the worst run in the club's entire history.

Results yesterday went against the Baggies, with victories for Crystal Palace and West Ham United lifting both clubs out of the relegation zone and seeing West Brom sink from a position of precarious safety in 17th to one of real danger in 19th.

Two points now separate West Brom from the right side of the dotted line and, with a league-low two wins all season, Alan Pardew will need a quick turnaround in fortunes if they to avoid being cut adrift at the bottom of the table.

West Brom have actually lost fewer games than any other team in the bottom half of the Premier League table, but it is draws which have been their main problem so far this season, sharing the spoils on a league-high eight occasions - including in four of their last five games.

Coupled with just two wins, both of which came in August, that is a relegation formula for the Baggies, and the only way that they will start to turn things around is if they are able to score more goals, with only rock-bottom Swansea scoring fewer in the entire division so far.

West Brom have now failed to score in 17 league matches so far in 2017, which is already their most in a calendar year since 1985. Should they draw another blank today - against the team which has kept the most clean sheets in the league this season - then it would be their worst return since 1971, when they failed to score in 20 games throughout the year.

At the other end things don't need too much improvement, with only Bournemouth having conceded fewer outside the top seven, but when scoring so few that needs to be Alan Pardew's main priority.

Of course, Tony Pulis was in charge for many of those matches in 2017, but the Baggies are still without a goal in their three outings under Pardew so far, drawing two and losing one of those.

A point against Liverpool at Anfield was certainly not a bad result - and West Brom actually came closest to scoring in that match when Robson-Kanu hit the crossbar - but in Pardew's first two matches they took only one point from games against Crystal Palace and Swansea, both of whom were bottom of the table when the Baggies faced them.

Pardew's only game as West Brom boss at The Hawthorns so far was that goalless draw with Crystal Palace, and the Baggies are now seven games without a win in front of their own fans stretching back to their first home game of the season against Bournemouth.

Indeed, West Brom have only won one of their last 12 Premier League home games, taking just five points from a possible 36 in that time, with only Swansea amassing fewer points in front of their own fans so far this season.

The season all started so well for West Brom too, winning their opening two games and targeting a top-half finish at that stage of the season, but they are since winless in their last 15 top-flight outings.

The Baggies are a full 11 places and nine points worse off after 17 games of this season than they were at the same stage of last term, when they sat eighth in the table after a strong start to the season under Tony Pulis.

This is surely a good time to face West Brom, then, even off the back of their improved performance against Liverpool last time out, although it could also be argued that there are much worse times to face Manchester United.

The Red Devils were well beaten by Manchester City in the derby last weekend - albeit only by a single goal in the end - while they were far from their best during the midweek 1-0 triumph over Bournemouth too. The Cherries could well have got a point from that match, and that should encourage West Brom heading into this one.

Having said that, United have little option but to win today. Manchester City's relentless form continued with a stylish victory over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, opening the gap to 14 points, and if United have any lingering hope of a title challenge then they cannot afford any more slip-ups.

Perhaps more relevant is the fact that Chelsea also won yesterday, drawing level on points with United in what now looks like being a race for second place behind City. United have the chance to open the gap to Chelsea back to three points today - not to mention extending their lead over fifth place - and securing Champions League football again for next season may be their new priority this term with City in such devastating form.

City's own performances are casting every other member of the established top six in a pretty bad light right now, but United have actually vastly improved in the league so far this season.

After 17 games of Mourinho's debut campaign at the helm they sat down in sixth, but fast forward a year and they are now four places and eight points better off than at the same stage. Indeed, in previous campaigns their current points tally would have them right in the mix of the title race, but City have just been too good this season.

Only City have amassed more points than United over the past six Premier League games, with Mourinho's side winning five of those following a run of just one win in four prior to that.

The main problem, of course, is that the exception in that run came in last weekend's defeat to Man City, which opened up an 11 point gap between the two local rivals. United now look destined to miss out on the title again this season, which would make it their longest wait to be crowned champions of England since their 26-year drought from 1967 to 1993.

United's away form will be a slight concern for Mourinho having picked up just 14 points from a possible 24 on the road so far this season, compared to 24 from a possible 27 at Old Trafford.

Indeed, if only away form counted United would currently sit fourth in the table, despite having won their last two matches on their travels against Watford and Arsenal, scoring seven goals in the process.

Another win this afternoon would see United make it three away wins on the bounce in the Premier League for the first time this season, and the first time across all competitions since February.

It represents a substantial improvement in form on the road, with those back-to-back triumphs at Watford and Arsenal meaning that United have now won as many Premier League away games in their last two outings as they had in their previous 10 before that, during which time they lost four and drew four.

United have, however, conceded six goals goals in their last four away games and are without a Premier League clean sheet on the road since their goalless draw with Liverpool in October.

Despite that, though, Mourinho's side still boast the league's best defensive record having conceded only 11 goals in their 17 outings so far, keeping a league-high 10 clean sheets overall.

PREDICTION: Right, we're 10 minutes away from kickoff at The Hawthorns, which means that it is time for a prediction!

West Brom will be encouraged by their draw with Liverpool last time out, but their eagerness to get that first goal under Pardew could play into United's hands today. The Red Devils need a win and, even though they haven't been at their very best in recent matches, we are backing them to scrape it.

SPORTS MOLE SAYS: West Brom 0-1 Manchester United

Manchester United have dominated the Premier League history between these two clubs, as you might expect, but since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement things have actually been even between the two sides.

Indeed, in their eight league meetings since Fergie hung up his hairdryer, West Brom have won three, drawn two and lost three, including a goalless draw in the most recent meeting at Old Trafford in April.

United have also failed to score in three of their last five Premier League meetings with the Baggies, having scored in all 17 of their previous Premier League games against them prior to that, netting 43 times in the process.

Five of those goals came in the unforgettable 5-5 draw at the end of the 2012-13 season when Lukaku scored a hat-trick for West Brom, denying Ferguson's victory in his 1,500th and final game in charge of United.

At The Hawthorns, though, West Brom have only ever won one of their 11 Premier League meetings against United, with that solitary victory coming in March last year.

Indeed, stretching back further than the Premier League era United have now won 10 of their last 13 league visits to his stadium, including a 2-0 triumph in the corresponding fixture last term courtesy of a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Right, we're just a couple of minutes away from kickoff now so let's have a quick recap of the team news before we get started...

WEST BROM STARTING XI: Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans, Gibbs; Burke, Livermore, Yacob, Krychowiak, McClean; Rondon

MAN UTD STARTING XI: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Young; Herrera, Matic, Mata, Lingard, Rashford; Lukaku

KICKOFF: West Brom get us underway at The Hawthorns after two false starts!
Lukaku and Rashford exchanges a couple of passes via their heads and chests on United's first meaningful foray forward before Evans snuffs out the attack.
Rashford looks like he could be a threat already this afternoon. He collects the ball on the left flank before cutting inside and trying to power a shot towards goal, but the Baggies have bodies in the way.
West Brom have been slow to settle in this game. United have got the better of them with a couple of long balls already and West Brom's defence has looked a bit shaky in the opening exchanges.
West Brom make their first break out from defence as Rondon holds the ball up well before back-heeling it through for McClean. There is no-one in the box for the hosts, though, and McClean's cross goes past Burke on the edge.
No chances to speak of in the opening 10 minutes here, but West Brom's game plan is clear already. They are sitting back and making themselves difficult to break through, before looking to hit United on the counter if and when the opportunity arises.
West Brom win their first corner of the game and The Hawthorns roars them on as a result, but Krychowiak's delivery is dreadful and cleared by the first man.
Young swings a dangerous cross into the middle towards Lukaku, but Gibbs does well to get his head on it before the United striker. He can only direct the ball up in the air, but Lukaku then fouls Foster when competing for the second ball.
West Brom have settled into this game now after a fairly shaky start. United are still seeing more of the ball, as expected, but they haven't found a way through so far.
United are struggling to get their dangermen into this game at the moment, with Rashford, Mata, Lukaku and Lingard all quiet in this opening 20 minutes or so.
Good defensive work from Nyom as he reads an attempted piece of skill by Rashford before holding the United striker off and winning the free kick.
West Brom are defending very deep at the moment, but so far it is having the desired effect of keeping United at bay. The visitors need to move the ball quicker if they are to break down this Baggies defence.
This has not been the best match so far, it must be said. No chances or shots of any note to speak of with a quarter of the game gone...
West Brom win another corner and this time it is played in deep to the back post, where Evans is only able to loop a header well off target.
GOAL! West Brom 0-1 Manchester United (Romelu Lukaku)
Finally a breakthrough! It is the first real sight of goal of the match, and Lukaku takes full advantage to put United ahead!

Rashford delivers the cross from the left flank and Lukaku climbs highest between two defenders to glance a fine header past Foster and into the corner! West Brom suddenly have a huge task ahead of them!

That is two goals in two games for Lukaku now, who continues his good record against team outside the top six. He has been criticised for not being good enough against the big teams, but in these matches he continues to score.
Crucial piece of defending from Smalling as makes a well-timed challenge on Burke as the winger was racing forward. Burke had Rondon in support and should have used him, but in the end Smalling dealt with the danger.
West Brom have responded quite well to going behind, getting on the front foot and searching for a quick equaliser.
CHANCE! Half a chance for West Brom as Nyom breaks inside from the right and plays a low ball into the box which Rondon tries to get on the end of. Smalling does enough to deny the striker, though, and Valencia clears up before the loose ball can fall to McClean.
GOAL! West Brom 0-2 Manchester United (Jesse Lingard)
United have a second in the space of less than 10 minutes! They may have taken the game a way from West Brom now, but they are given a helping hand by a major deflection here!

Mata pokes the ball into the path of Lingard, who in turn drives one towards goal from the edge of the box. It looks like being a comfortable one for Foster, but Hegazi sticks out a leg and diverts it beyond his helpless goalkeeper.

That goal could potentially go down as any own goal, but Lingard's initial strike looked to be going on target so it will likely be given to the midfielder, who continues his fine goalscoring form.
Just five minutes remaining in this first half now, and after holding their own for the opening 25 minutes Alan Pardew's side are now seemingly out of reach.
United are in complete control of this contest now. They have only really had two sights of goal in this one, but they have scored both of those and that clinical nature has put them well on course for victory now.
SAVE! De Gea is called into action for the first time today, but this is a routine stop for a player of his quality. He gets down comfortably to collect Livermore's effort from the edge of the box.
There will be just one minute of added time at the end of this first half.
HALF TIME: West Brom 0-2 Manchester United
The first half comes to an end at The Hawthorns, and it is Manchester United who are in complete control of this contest at the halfway stage.

This one was a very slow burner, with neither side having a meaningful sight of goal until the 27th minute, but United have been clinical when the chances have come their way and they look to be will on course for all three points now.

Lukaku scored the opening goal of the game in the 27th minute with another towering header, making it two in the space of four days by glancing Rashford's cross past Foster.

There was nothing the West Brom keeper could do about the header, with Lukaku drifting in between Evans and Gibbs and making no mistake with his finish from the pinpoint delivery.

The second arrived less than 10 minutes later, although this time United needed a huge stroke of luck to double their advantage.

Lingard was the man to continue his fine scoring streak, with his effort from the edge of the box taking a huge deflection off Hegazi to divert it past Foster. Foster would have saved it quite comfortably had Hegazi not hung out his leg, but the West Brom defender was trying to block the shot and only succeeded in helping it into the back of the net.

Aside from the goals there have been very few notable chances for either side, with Livermore drawing a routine save from De Gea the closest we have come aside from the strikes from Lukaku and Lingard.

Alan Pardew will have been pretty pleased with his side's performance up to the first goal, but they have not won a single game when conceding the opener so far this season so it looks like a tall order for them to get back into this one now.

KICKOFF: Manchester United get us back underway for the second half, and West Brom have made a change at the interval with Barry replacing Yacob.
SHOT! The hosts look to make a quick start to this second half and Gibbs goes for goal, but he drags his effort wide of the target.
West Brom look to have switched their formation to a 4-4-2 in this second half, with Burke joining Rondon up front. They offered very little going forward in the first half, so Pardew needed to change something.
Almost a chance for United as Rashford takes his time just outside the area before lifting a pass into the box for Lukaku, but the striker has just drifted offside.
Rashford goes down clutching his face after challenging Hegazi for the ball in an advanced area, and the pair clash with each other after that. It is a flash point out of absolutely nothing.
YELLOW CARD! Rashford picks up a yellow card for his role in that skirmish having been the main aggressor.
SAVE! Another routine stop for De Gea as Barry tries a first-time effort from Gibbs's pass on the edge of the box, but it is tame and straight at the keeper.
CLOSE! This is a lot better from West Brom now! They come forward down the right and Burke hooks a brilliant ball into the box, but Valencia makes a crucial interception in between Rondon and McClean, both of whom were very close to getting on the end of it for a tap-in.
CHANCE! United respond with a good chance of their own as Valencia's cross is touch into the path of Rashford by Lingard, but the United man skews his effort a yard or so past the far post.
CHANCE! United race forward in the blink of an eye with a really good counter-attack. Lingard leads the charge and carries the ball forward a long way before exchanging passes with Lukaku, but he then fires his finish straight at Foster.
Less than half an hour remaining in this one now and it is certainly a much more open game in this second half. United have done a good job of stunting the West Brom momentum at the start of the half and are back in control of this contest now.
Valencia looks to be in trouble here. He knocks the ball out and gestures towards his hamstring, which is not good news for the visitors. Mourinho will not take any risks with a muscle injury to him.
WEST BROM SUB: West Brom will make a change before Valencia is withdrawn as Jay Rodriguez replaces Burke.
MAN UTD SUB: Here is that United change as Marcos Rojo replaces Valencia and goes straight to left-back, with Young moving over to the right. Interesting that Luke Shaw was overlooked...
United want a free kick after Lingard appeared to be shoved off the ball within shooting range, but referee Anthony Taylor waves the claims away.
Just 20 minutes remaining in this match now and it is looking increasingly unlikely that West Brom will be able to get back into this match. There have been more signs of encouragement for the Baggies in this second half, but it looks like being another defeat for them.
WEST BROM SUB: A third and final change for West Brom sees Chris Brunt replace Krychowiak.
CHANCE! Another sight of goal for West Brom as Brunt slips the pass in to Rondon, but once again they fail to really test De Gea. The finish is tame and straight at the keeper, who gathers it easily.
SHOT! This time Brunt has a chance to shoot himself, but he volleys his effort well over the crossbar after being teed up on the edge of the box.
GOAL! West Brom 1-2 Manchester United (Gareth Barry)
This one is not over just yet! Former Manchester City man Gareth Barry is the unlikely name on the scoresheet to get West Brom right back into this match!

It is really poor defending from United as a corner is nodded back into a dangerous area. Barry has the time in the six-yard box to take a touch before placing his finish into the bottom corner with the type of composure you wouldn't expect from a player of his ilk.

MAN UTD SUB: Mourinho makes a change in the immediate aftermath of that goal, with Anthony Martial replacing Rashford.
Suddenly West Brom will be beginning to believe heading into the final 10 minutes! United's performance has certainly tailed off in the last 10 minutes or so, and they have been punished for that.
SAVE! Snap shot from Rodriguez as he collects the ball and hits it towards goal on the volley, but De Gea is there at the near post to collect it.
United have really gone off the boil in the closing stages of this match. They are just hoofing the ball forward without much aim now and West Brom keep coming back at them.
CHANCE! West Brom almost have the equaliser as Rodriguez sneaks between two defenders and gets his head on the end of a whipped delivery from the left flank, but he plants a firm header narrowly wide. De Gea was beaten there!
MAN UTD SUB: A late change for United here as Scott McTominay replaces Lingard.
Poor from Rojo this time as he gets an attempted clearance all wrong, almost skewing it into his own net. In the end, United escape with a corner.
CHANCE! The delivery from the corner is superb and De Gea completely misses it, but Matic gets a crucial touch on the line. It bounces back into a dangerous area and Barry, Hegazi and Evans are all involved in the scramble, but De Gea collects it.
There will be four minutes of added time at the end of this match.
United really are hanging on here, and Mourinho will be fuming with that. The Baggies are putting their visitors under serious pressure.
CHANCE! Chance for United to kill West Brom off here as Lukaku finds space on the counter-attack, only to drag his shot wide of the far post.
FULL TIME: West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester United
Manchester United hold out for all three points in the end, but that was a lot more difficult than they might have imagined at 2-0 up! They were cruising around the hour mark, but they took their foot off the pedal and were almost made to pay by the Baggies.

As it was, first-half goals from Lukaku and Lingard proved to be enough for United despite Gareth Barry's reply in the second half, with the visitors closing the gap on Manchester City back to 14 points.

Right, that is all we have time for this afternoon!

Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for today's match as United hold off a spirited challenge from West Brom to record a 2-1 victory at The Hawthorns! I will leave you with our match report, and be sure to stick around for reaction too.

From me, though, it is goodbye for now!

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3Tottenham HotspurSpurs23170648232551
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8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves239592731-432
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