[Premier League] Manchester United 1-2 West Brom Albion
ManUtd: Wayne Rooney (57)
WBA: Morgan Amalfitano (54), Saido Berahino (67)
Manchester United slipped to a first home defeat of the season as West Bromwich Albion posted a shock 2-1 victory over the Barclays Premier League champions at Old Trafford.
Despite bouncing back from last weekend’s Manchester derby defeat with a rousing Capital One Cup victory over Liverpool in midweek, David Moyes’ side were unable to break down the well-drilled visitors in open play, and succumbed to two fine goals.
A solo effort from Morgan Amalfitano and Saido Berahino's low strike sandwiched a Wayne Rooney free-kick, but United came no closer to an equaliser than in an injury-time flurry when Michael Carrick's shot was beaten away and substitute Adnan Januzaj fired off-target.
Nani had provided United's most fruitful attacking outlet for most of the afternoon, slinging in several superb crosses, two of which were narrowly ahead of Chicharito while another was headed straight at Boaz Myhill by Rooney.
It was the visitors, however, who spurned the clearest two openings of the first half, as Berahino glanced a header just wide and Stephane Sessegnon blazed horribly over from a corner.
Januzaj was introduced at half-time in place of Shinji Kagawa, but it was the visitors who forged ahead when Amalfitano surged towards goal and cut infield before lifting an impudent finish over David De Gea.
The Baggies' celebrations were quickly cut short, however, as Rooney whipped a free-kick between the visitors' wall and a cluster of onrushing players to level the scores within three minutes, but to their credit, West Brom immediately hit back.
Jonas Olsson headed Amalfitano's corner against the United crossbar, and it was in-keeping with play when Berahino lashed a 20-yard effort past De Gea with 23 minutes remaining.
The home support briefly thought United had levelled when substitute Marouane Fellaini slid home Nani's cross, but the Belgian was correctly flagged offside and, after a late surge in which Myhill beat away Carrick's shot and Januzaj fizzed an effort past the top corner, the Reds were beaten.
The match No complaints for United, who didn't build on promising build-up play when the game was scoreless, and were faced with an uphill battle from the moment a pumped up West Brom side forged ahead. Though the Reds responded well to going a goal behind by quickly levelling, the Baggies' counter-response was superb, before a heroic late defensive display closed out a superb win for the visitors.
Goal Wayne Rooney continued his impressive recent run of goalscoring form. Whether his free-kick was a shot or a cross, only he knows, but the Reds' skipper for the day has moved onto 202 goals for the club.
Sub-plot With a tricky Champions League trip to Donetsk looming next week, David Moyes opted against risking Robin van Persie and Patrice Evra from the start, while club captain Nemanja Vidic and player-coach Ryan Giggs were absent entirely.
Star men Nani was United's most menacing attacker for the majority of the game, while Rooney was always available and intent on finding a route back into the game. There were also positives aplenty in the 45-minute display of Adnan Januzaj, whose talent shines bright in his every outing.
The opposition Steve Clarke's Baggies were superb, offering United little time or space in possession, while looking to maximise their own time on the ball. Victor Anichebe's bullish display as a lone striker set the tone for a battling display, and he was surrounded by several heroic performers.
Move of the match United went from defence to attack in the blink of an eye, as Rooney showed staggering composure and skill to arc a wonderful pass into Nani's path. Though the Portuguese winger sprinted clear, his target, Chicharito, was unable to find an onside position to receive possession, and the chance fizzled out.
In the stands Unsurprisingly, the home support were left stunned in the end, despite doing their utmost to raise their side in every late attack. It was the visiting supporters, however, who laughed last and loudest, and were boinging all the way back to the Midlands.