Manchester United picked up another crucial victory on Saturday as they defeated West Brom 1-0.
It was a cagey affair against the newly-promoted Baggies – who currently sit in the relegation zone after failing to win a game so far this season – and was settled from the penalty spot.
Even that brought its tension, as Bruno Fernandes saw his initial spot-kick saved by Sam Johnstone but a retake was enforced after the goalkeeper had stepped off his line. Fernandes made no mistake with his second attempt and fired it into the top corner.
It was an unconvincing display with United lacking a cutting edge in front of goal, while West Brom squandered their own chances to get on the score sheet.
Yet the win means Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have picked up three points at Old Trafford for the first time in the Premier League this season and here’s how the national media reacted to the game:
“Johnstone spent nine years at United before leaving them for West Brom in 2018.
“He still has links to the area, exchanging text messages with David de Gea as the Baggies made their successful bid to seal promotion from the Championship last season. Johnstone also gave £700 to a Manchester man during lockdown when the van he used to feed homeless people was burned out.
“At a ground where he had never previously made a first-team appearance, Johnstone was outstanding.
“He denied Anthony Martial with two excellent saves – the first to his right when the Frenchman flicked a header goalwards, the second to his left when Marcus Rashford and Fernandes combined to set the Frenchman up.
“It also looked as though the West Brom keeper had the situation covered when Harry Maguire belted a volley straight into the face of Kyle Bartley.
“Arguably his point-blank reaction save to turn away Rashford’s goal-bound effort after half-time was the best of the lot.
“Given he had already denied Rashford once in the second period – and saved Fernandes’ initial penalty, albeit illegally – no blame for the latest Baggies defeat could be laid at his door and he left the field in deep conversation with De Gea, who must have appreciated his fellow goalkeeper’s efforts.”
“Manchester United were aided by a controversial penalty decision from referee David Coote as they edged past West Brom with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
“In a dramatic start to the second half, Coote pointed to the spot having adjudged Bruno Fernandes to have brought down Conor Gallagher. However, despite there appearing to be clear contact, the decision was overturned by Coote after he watched the incident on the pitchside monitor at the advice of VAR.
“It was a decision which left West Brom boss Slaven Bilic bemused, while Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side got lucky.”
“Manchester United finally have a Premier League victory at Old Trafford and a second consecutive win in the competition, though they far from convinced. Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side benefited from three decisions regarding two penalties and Slaven Bilic was understandably disappointed at the majority of the officiating here from David Coote, the referee, and VAR.
“Solskjær will be pleased with the league debut of Alex Telles, who may well prove an upgrade on Luke Shaw at left-back, though Nemanja Matic was sluggish again in central midfield and will surely soon make way to give Donny van de Beek – again a late replacement – a run in the XI.
“United dominated possession for long passages but in Anthony Martial, Mata and Marcus Rashford had a trio of forwards who could not find a way past Johnstone. His series of saves began with a smart reflex repel of an early Martial flicked header.
“When Harry Maguire broke, Fernandes teed up Martial after Rashford received a pass from his captain along the left and crossed: Johnstone made another fine stop from the No 9 and Semi Ajayi was left blessing his luck as it was his errant pass that had handed possession to Maguire.
“West Brom’s response to this encouraged. Suddenly Conor Townsend was in behind and threatening to beat David de Gea before overrunning the ball, then Karlan Grant’s shot deflected off Victor Lindelöf for a corner that United scrambled to defend.
“After the penalty incidents early in the second half Callum Robinson gave United a scare by crashing a shot off De Gea’s bar, before at the other end Rashford and Maguire were denied by Johnstone. Though West Brom pressed, United hung on. It means they are up to ninth with 13 points and if their game in hand is won the picture will look even rosier.”
“United have scored just once from open play at Old Trafford in the league this term – in their opening defeat to Crystal Palace – and Fernandes’ penalty was their first home goal in the competition for five hours and 24 minutes since his spot-kick against Spurs, after which the floodgates opened. The 6-1 trouncing really seems to have scared United, especially at home.
Free Manchester United vs West Brom newsletter
United get their Premier League campaign back underway on Saturday when they welcome strugglers West Brom to Old Trafford.
The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat Everton last time out thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.
The players are returning from the two-week international break, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be hoping to have as few injury and fitness concerns as possible among the stars coming back from international duty.
We’ll be bringing you all the latest updates and build-up to the game, and you can have it all delivered straight to your inbox by signing up to our daily newsletter by submitting your email address in the sign-up box above, or click here – it’s free and it only takes a few seconds.
“Given how West Brom cut through them on occasion, Solskjaer may argue that he was right to start with two defensive minded midfielders in Fred and Nemanja Matic but this felt like an occasion when United should have let loose. Instead, after Martial missed an excellent chance to open the scoring in the 16th minute after a fine move on the turnover, United struggled for any real rhythm in attack and the game followed a familiar pattern. It just looks hard work for this team going forward at times.
“It would have been interesting to see how United had reacted had Coote stood by his original penalty award. Karlan Grant had got round the outside of Maguire, darted forward and slipped the ball to Gallagher, who dropped to the ground under a challenge from Fernandes. The latter got the ball first but also the man and protested forcibly to Coote after the referee pointed to the spot. Was that in Coote’s mind when he went to review the decision? Perhaps, but it was a big call all the same.”