[Premier League] West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Manchester United
WBA: Stephane Sessegnon (8), Saido Berahino (65)
ManUtd: Marouane Fellaini (48), Daley Blind (87)
Marouane Fellaini and Daley Blind both scored their first goals for Manchester United to earn the Reds a dramatic 2-2 draw at West Bromwich Albion.
Strikes from Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino had earned the Baggies slender leads in each half, though the visitors showed great courage and tenacity to twice restore parity and earn a much-deserved away point in the Barclays Premier League.
Louis van Gaal made three changes to the XI which started the 2-1 win over Everton before the international break with Phil Jones, Ander Herrera and Adnan Januzaj all coming in for Paddy McNair, Antonio Valencia and Radamel Falcao. The boss also adapted his formation at The Hawthorns, opting for 4-2-3-1 instead of the recently used 4-4-2 diamond.
United made a slow start to proceedings and fell behind in just the eighth minute when Stephane Sessegnon latched onto Andre Wisdom’s cross from the right flank to smash into the top right corner of David De Gea’s goal. The Reds reacted well and could have equalised moments later when Robin van Persie met Angel Di Maria’s through-ball to force a decent save from Boaz Myhill, who was brought in for the injured Ben Foster.
The Baggies' goalkeeper was again in action shortly afterwards when Di Maria expertly controlled Daley Blind’s long ball before swiftly hitting a left-footed shot at goal. The Argentinian then went close for a second time when his powerful 15-yard effort in the 30th minute was also saved.
Robin van Persie had a shot blocked in the 39th minute before James Morrison was booked for a rash challenge on Herrera. Juan Mata took the resulting free-kick and, disappointingly, his effort flew high and wide of the crossbar, which summed up a frustrating first half for the Spanish midfielder.
Van Gaal decided to replace recently-injured Herrera with Marouane Fellaini at the half-time break and the towering Belgian made an immediate impact in the 48th minute, when he out-muscled former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott to control the ball on his chest and then smash a right-footed shot past Myhill from around 10 yards, prompting delirious scenes among the travelling United fans.
Clearly encouraged by the equaliser, the Reds pressed forward in search of another goal and almost found one when Rafael’s cross evaded Fellaini at the far post before Mata’s close-range shot was blocked by a West Brom defender. Then, against the run of play, the Baggies restored their lead in the 65th minute as Saido Berahino ran onto Morrison’s incisive pass to finish past De Gea.
Falcao, who did not start due to jetlag, was then introduced for Mata and the Colombian almost registered an assist with his first touch when his back-header led to van Persie hitting the post in the 74th minute, with Januzaj then blasting wide from the rebound. Ashley Young replaced Di Maria, who took a seat in the dugout with an ice-pack around his right thigh.
Just as another away defeat was looming large, United restored parity as Falcao teed up Blind to curl home his first goal for the club and secure some reward on this road trip to the Midlands.
West Bromwich Albion: Myhill, Wisdom, Dawson, Lescott, Pocognoli, Gardner, Morrison, Dorrans, Sessegnon (Mulumbu 86'), Brunt, Berahino.
Subs not used: Ideye, Anichebe, Gamboa, Daniels, McAuley, Blanco.
Manchester United: De Gea, Rafael, Jones, Rojo, Shaw, Blind, Herrera, Mata, Di Maria, Januzaj, van Persie.
Subs not used: Lindegaard, Carrick, Fletcher, Smalling.
Booked: Rojo, Blind