Man United held by resilient West Brom at Old Trafford
Manchester United threw away another two-goal lead to draw against West Brom at Old Trafford after Sir Alex Ferguson dumped Wayne Rooney to the bench.
Somen Tchoyi capitalised on Edwin van der Sar’s second-half fumble after Patrice Evra’s bizarre own goal started the visitors’ comeback.
United had stormed into an early first-half lead when Javier Hernandez, who partnered Dimitar Berbatov up front in the absence of Rooney, opened the scoring with a simple tap-in after a poor parry by Scott Carson from a Nani free-kick after just five minutes.
Nani then added a second mid-way through the half after a string of passes dissected the visitors’ defence, the Portugal international on hand to stroke the ball past Carson.
With United in supreme control it appeared unthinkable the home side would fail to end the match with anything but maximum points.
But after the break Roberto Di Matteo’s side showed more courage venturing forward and were immediately the benefactors when Chris Brunt’s free-kick took a wicked deflection off Evra leaving van der Sar helpless to prevent the own-goal.
And with West Brom in the ascendency it was no surprise to see an equaliser follow shortly after. Brunt volleyed a hopeful cross into the United penalty area with van der Sar making an uncharacteristic error to enable Tchoyi to restore parity in a fortuitous manner.
After the leveller it was the visitors who controlled the game despite the introduction of Rooney and Paul Scholes. United’s sole opportunity to snatch a winner came when referee Michael Jones awarded an indirect free-kick after Carson picked up what was deemed to be a back-pass.
Should United have scored from the dubious set piece it would have been harsh punishment for a much-improved second-half performance from the visitors.
Di Matteo, whose side stunned Arsenal at Emirates Stadium with a 3-2 win last month, believes a draw was a fair result on Saturday. He said: “It was an afternoon of gifts.
“If Manchester United had got a third the game would probably have been over. But I thought it was a correct result.
“Every game has its own history, so I wasn’t thinking about their results, but I just felt if we got one back, it might make them nervous.”
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