Man Utd 2 - 2 West Brom
Edwin van der Sar (left) reacts after his error gifted West Brom an equaliser
Van der Sar (left) reacts after his error gifted West Brom an equaliser
By Mandeep Sanghera
A mistake from Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar proved costly as his side were held to a draw by West Brom.
Wayne Rooney started on the bench for United but they went 2-0 up when Javier Hernandez pounced on a parried save to slot in before Nani steered in a shot.
A Nemanja Vidic header hit the Baggies post but the visitors scored when Patrice Evra diverted a Chris Brunt free-kick into his own net.
Van der Sar then dropped a Brunt cross to allow Somen Tchoyi to equalise.
Rooney had come off the bench in the 71st minute and, although he went close when his goalbound shot was blocked in the West Brom goalmouth by Gabriel Tamas, he failed to help United to a win as they were held to a third consecutive Premier League draw.
And, rather than the expected United bombardment late on, West Brom stifled the game in the most part and even looked capable of stealing a win in a game they were given a helping hand to turn around.
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Rooney had to watch most of the match from the bench and his omission from the starting line-up will be one of the talking points from the game.
He was left out on the back of contradicting manager Sir Alex Ferguson's claim that he had missed games against Valencia and Sunderland with an ankle injury.
Ferguson appeared to be making the point that his authority would not be questioned by leaving the striker to stew on the bench, although the United boss might also have based his decision on an out-of-form Rooney having scored just once for his side so far this season.
Hernandez, who had arrived back from international duty with Mexico late on Thursday, was instead given the nod to partner Dimitar Berbatov in United's attack and he quickly appeared to justify Ferguson's decision.
Baggies keeper Scott Carson could only tamely parry a dipping Nani free-kick into the path of Hernandez and he gratefully slotted in after five minutes.
West Brom were on the cusp of a leveller when Brunt looked set to slot in a low Marc-Antoine Fortune cross at the far post only for Rafael Da Silva to get in a crucial foot and divert the ball wide.
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However, United were continually scything through the Baggies with the sleek touches of Berbatov and pace of Hernandez unsettling the visitors.
Berbatov sent a curling shot just wide and failed to match the quality of his and United's play with a finishing touch as he poked a Michael Carrick cross the wrong side of the post from close range.
A second goal did not elude the home side for long as Nani seized on a slip by left-back Nicky Shorey and, after sliding a ball into the path of Berbatov, was found with a return pass which he coolly guided in with 25 minutes on the clock.
Rooney must have been desperate to be playing and might have thought he had the chance to do so when Ryan Giggs came off injured.
Instead, Ferguson summoned Darron Gibson with the Old Trafford side in firm control against a West Brom side who almost found themselves further behind when a Vidic header came back off the post.
The Baggies had beaten Arsenal in their last away game but, despite their persistence and patience in their passing game, a comeback looked unlikely until a low driven 50th minute free-kick by Brunt was diverted past his own keeper by Evra to give them hope.
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Old Trafford point delights Di Matteo
The goal breathed a new lease of life in the visitors and, five minutes later, they were gifted an equaliser when Van Der Sar shockingly spilled a looping Brunt cross to allow Tchoyi to sidefoot in.
United had let a two-goal lead slip against Liverpool at home in a season which has been marked by them conceding leads through lapses in intensity and concentration.
This was another case in point and was the cue for the home fans to start chanting for the introduction of Rooney, who was brought on with 20 minutes left.
Apart from the late chance which was blocked by Tamas, Rooney struggled to make an impact as United's cutting edge deserted them.
The home side were also denied the chance to build up any sustained pressure as the Baggies used their passing ability to hold on to the ball and take the sting out of a United side who have now dropped 10 points so far this season.
West Brom boss Roberto Di Matteo had not lost at Old Trafford in his playing career and left with his record intact after his first game at United as a manager.
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Registration date : 2010-10-17
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