After coming from behind to draw even in each of their last four home matches, West Bromwich Albion must’ve been confident when they went into halftime down by just a goal. Instead Manchester United managed to tear them apart in the second, leaving the Baggies even closer to the drop zone. They’ll be praying that Cardiff – Fulham finishes in a draw (and Pepe Mel will likely be praying he’s still got a job).
West Brom spent the majority of the first half sitting deep, inviting pressure from the visitors. They had an excellent chance in the 11th minute, when a quick counter allowed Victor Anichebe space to get behind the United defense. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones managed to stop his run, but Jones immediately gave the ball away. Unfortunately for the hosts, Chris Brunt could only aim his shot into the side netting.
From that point on, the first half belonged to Manchester United, as the Red Devils continued to wear down West Brom. In the 16th minute, a shot from Marouane Fellaini bounced off Brunt, but Youssouf Mulumbu was there to clear off the line.
The turning point came in the 34th minute, when Brunt fouled Rafael. It was Robin van Persie that stood over the ball, putting a lovely free kick into the midst of the red shirts. Jones got on the end of it, barely needing a touch to flick his header past Ben Foster and into the back of the net.
Then, in the 42nd minute, Foster handed us all a nice, big, talking point, one that will surely be discussed by pundits for the next few days. The Albion keeper came out to deal with the ball, but appeared to handle it just outside the area. The linesman was nearby, but no call was made. West Brom got away with one, as it certainly looked like Foster should have been sent off.
Early in the second half, United breathed their own sigh of relief when, minutes after being booked for a late challenge on Morgan Amalfitano, van Persie escaped a second yellow for a foul on Steven Reid.
Possibly mindful of West Brom’s tendency to come back and snatch a late equalizer in the dying minutes of the match, Wayne Rooney decided to knock in a second for his side in the 65th minute. Rafael, getting forward once more, put in the cross, with Rooney getting on the end to head home.
And that was game-set-match for the Baggies, whose spirit seemed broken by the second goal. Thus the third United goal came as little surprise. Danny Welbeck, on for van Persie shortly after the booking-that-wasn’t, put the ball in after a lovely move that saw Fellaini and Rooney exchanging passes as they made their way up the pitch. It was Rooney that provided the assist, a through ball that Welbeck pounced on to slide into the bottom right corner of Foster’s goal.
West Brom: Foster; Reid (Sessegnon 60), McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob (Morrison 40), Mulumbu; Amalfitano, Gera, Brunt (Berahino 66), Anichebe
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael (Vidic 87), Smalling, Jones, Evra, Carrick, Fellaini, Mata, Rooney, Januzaj (Kagawa 76), van Persie (Welbeck 63)
Goals: Jones 34′; Rooney 65′; Welbeck 82′