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West Brom 1-2 Manchester United


By Jemma Tappenden
August 23 2011

West Bromwich Albion kicked off their 2011/12 Premiership campaign against reigning champions Manchester United at The Hawthorns.  Not that they had anything to fear; they were the only side to leave Old Trafford last season with a point.  New signing Shane Long was thrown straight into the starting line up, as last season’s leading striker Peter Odemwinge sat out with an ankle injury.

Jerome Thomas was also ruled through injury, but there was a debut for new goal keeper Ben Foster.  United started brightly, forcing Albion to soak up some early pressure, especially from set pieces.  But the Baggies soon settled into their own stride and recorded the first goal attempt of the match on 8 minutes, when Paul Scharner tried his luck with an ambitious 40 yard drive, which just fell wide of the left hand post.  United then struggled to clear a Chris Brunt corner, and Somen Tchoyi was unlucky to see his effort blocked by Nemanja Vidic.

But Albion’s lively start was cancelled out in the 13th minute when United took the lead.  Excellent play between Rooney and Young created a great chance for Rooney just inside the box, who slotted coolly past Foster into the far corner to give United the goal advantage.  Just two minutes later Rooney was almost gifted a second chance on goal as the Albion defence still tried to re-gather themselves.  But this time the England striker was wide of the mark from 20 yards.

United should have been two goals up in the 22nd minute when Welbeck and Rooney combined to set Nani up with a clear shot from 10 yards.  But the Portuguese International fired well over the target, leaving Hodgson’s side relieved. 

As Albion finally regrouped after falling a goal behind they created some great chances of their own.  Brunt’s free kick fell perfectly for Reid, who was able to turn and get his shot in, only to see it deflected wide by Fabio from 15 yards.  Just moments later a neat exchange between Long and Morrison set Long up nicely from 25 yards, but his shot was just inches wide of the target.

United looked threatening every time they came forward, and Nani had the chance to put the visitors two up on 29 minutes, but again shot over the target from just 12 yards.  But just minutes later it was 1-1, as Tchoyi who did well to hold off pressure from Fabio, found Brunt, who slotted neatly to Long inside the box.  Albion’s new number 9 found himself enough space to fire in a right footed shot which crept under the arms of United keeper De Gea before finding the far corner of the net. 

The Albion equaliser seemed to have United rattled, and the home side finished the half the much stronger of the two sides, with further shots coming in to test United’s new keeper De Gea, who was looking decidedly shaky, from Brunt and Scharner.

Half Time: West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Manchester United.

The opening of the second half was a continuation of the end of the first, with Albion looking confident and steady.  But there was little between the two sides in the early exchanges of the half.  The first real chance of the half did not materialise until 9 minutes in, when a Young free kick was found Rooney’s head inside the box, which Foster had covered.

Sensing frustration Ferguson made a change in the 65th minute, bringing Dimitar Berbatov on for Welbeck.  But the change did little to stir Albion, who were playing well and containing the United threat with relative ease.  United resorted to half chances, with Young notching up a cross-cum-shot in the 69th minute, and Nani producing another well off target chance a minute later.  That being said, Albion were not producing any chances of their own either.

The Baggies finally got around to testing the so far dodgy looking De Gea again in the 79th minute, when a set piece caused him more problems than it really should have.  But just two minutes later United crushed Albion’s hopes of getting anything out of the Champions on the first day of the season by getting a second goal.  A Young cross clipped Gabriel Tamas and then Reid, before passing a stranded Foster in the Albion goal. 

Albion threw everything at United in the final minutes, searching for an equalising goal.  But it was not to be, and the reigning champions left the Hawthorns with their first three points of the season.

Full Time: West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Manchester United

Rooney (13)

Long (37)

Reid OG (81)

Attendance: 25,360

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West Brom 1-2 Manchester United
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23/08/2011 21:12
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