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Manchester United Defeat West Bromwich Albion 2-0 at Old Trafford

December 29th, 2012 at 2:00 PM
By Glenn Hamilton

Manchester United were able to keep a rare clean sheet in a tough 2-0 win against West Brom. An own goal and a beautiful strike from Robin van Persie gave United all three points at home.

 

'Old Trafford, Manchester' photo (c) 2006, Sean MacEntee - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Sir Alex Ferguson named a changed squad for the West Brom encounter and with so many games coming in fast, the Red Devils manager has been rotating his team to preserve freshness and prevent injury. A most notable absentee was Robin van Persie who started on the bench as Danny Welbeck took up the role of the lone striker. Shinji Kagawa made his long-awaited return to fitness and Nemanja Vidic had another start to steady the often times shaky United defense. United began the match very well putting West Brom on the back foot from the kick off. After only nine minutes, Ashley Young ran down the wing and put in a cross that was deflected by Gareth McAuley and into his own net. The beginning of the match could not get much worse for the Baggies and in truth, United should have punished Steve Clark's men further. The Red Devils had plenty of opportunities to increase their lead but could not find the final killer ball to all but finish West Brom off. The two teams went into the dressing room with the visitors fortunate to have not gone further behind.

United continued their impressive start to the game in the second half. United again had plenty of chances but could not find that all important second goal. The defense was given a major boost by the fine form of Vidic who looked like his old self, stopping every attack West Brom could manage. The Serbian defender was a wall in front of David de Gea and the Baggies fashioned precious few chances. 20 minutes into the half however, West Brom began to find their feet and with the inclusion of Romelu Lukaku, began to make United's defense sweat. The possession statistic suddenly swung favorably for West Brom and they began to enjoy large spaces in midfield and chances on goal. Vidic made all the difference and, together with an in form Jonny Evans, repelled all of West Brom's attacks in central defense. Sensing the midfield needed reinforcing and another goal needed, Ferguson introduced Paul Scholes and Robin van Persie for Tom Cleverley and Kagawa respectively. United continued to struggle in midfield but the inclusion of Scholes helped to alleviate some of the pressure from the back four. Finally, in the 90th minute, van Persie hit a fantastic shot from outside the box that sailed up and over goalkeeper Ben Foster and handed United the valuable three points. Van Persie's 17th goal of the season would come as a bit of a bad blow to Foster who was having an admirable game despite the own goal. United remain seven points ahead at the top of the Premier League table.

Man of the Match: Nemanja Vidic. The Serbian looks to be back to his best and put in a fantastic performance in United's back line to deny West Brom of what was becoming an ever more likely equalizer. It was only the Red Devil's third clean sheet of the season and Vidic was largely responsible for it. Ferguson will hope that his captain's calm and commanding display will continue and carry over to the rest of the defense.

Manchester United; David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic; Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley (Paul Scholes); Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa (Robin van Persie)

West Brom: Ben Foster; Liam Ridgewell, Gareth McAuley, Billy Jones, Gabriel Tamas; Chris Brunt (James Morrison), George Thorne, Graham Dorrans (Marc-Antoine Fortune), Peter Odemwingie; Markus Rosenberg (Romelu Lukaku), Shane Long

Manchester United Next Match: Wigan (Premier League) Away Tuesday January 1   

Tags: Manchester, Manchester United, Nemanja Vidic, Premier League, Robin van Persie, Sir Alex Ferguson, Soccer, West Brom

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