Manchester United’s comeback streak falls flat against low lying and leaky West Brom side
Having seen their form slow in recent weeks, Manchester United were given the perfect chance to set themselves straight against a West Brom side that has been woeful in defence.
With Bruno Fernandes tying together a forward line of Edinson Cavani, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, most United fans would have simply have wondered how many goals they would score. After all, United had scored 12 goals in their last two Premier League matches.
Rather than pushing forward with their rich attacking Premier League form, United instead slipped into their knack of conceding early goals away from home.
Mbaye Diagne needed only two minutes to score the shock opener. Connor Gallagher, a light in this struggling Baggies side, sent in a dipping cross and the freshly signed Diagne demonstrated exactly why Sam Allardyce wanted him leading his line.
Attacking the cross, Victor Lindelöf was left completely out-muscled as the Senegalese striker forced his header past David De Gea.
Once again, United found themselves with a mountain to climb. An Allardyce defensive masterclass may have been expected, though truthfully both sides saw chances as the half wore on.
Marcus Rashford sent in a delightfully dangerous cross that Lee Peltier was forced to play behind, while at the other end Diagne saw yet another chance to nod past De Gea. The Spaniard had recovered well from conceding early and stood strong against a further Robert Snodgrass effort.
Despite their domination of possession United had fashioned few genuinely good chances, and truthfully the first that they actually stabbed home was no more than a half-chance.
Fernandes, having scored so spectatucarly against Everton last time out, met Luke Shaw’s lofted cross with a high left-foot that looped the ball past Sam Johnstone. Few would have expected the Portuguese to meet the ball, let alone connect so well as to actually score.
With West Brom’s lead ruled out, the stage was set for United to push on and find the winner in the second half.
Half-time: West Brom 1 – 1 Manchester United
The confidence of Fernandes’ well-timed equaliser injected United with a sense of urgency, and the second half started far more promisingly than the first.
The breakthrough looked assured when Craig Pawson pointed to the spot after 60 minutes, as Semi Ajayi looked to have brought down Harry Maguire in the box. Even Pawson himself did not look convinced of his decision however, and VAR soon decided against the awarding of a penalty.
Not to be put out by the false hope, Maguire was soon involved in another golden chance for United. A Luke Shaw corner was sent in to the towering captain who nodded down towards Mason Greenwood, though former-United man Johnstone managed to stretch a defiant leg out and deny Greenwood his goal.
Scott McTominay nibbled at the rebound, though his rich form was similarly denied by a Darnell Furlong block.
As time wore down, the goalkeepers stepped up to steal the headlines. First it was De Gea who kept his side in the game, frustrating Diagne after he had forced past Maguire in similar fashion to Lindelöf earlier in the game.
Perhaps in an attempt to save face, Maguire threw himself forward in the dying seconds to meet a Luke Shaw cross with a bullet header. Johnstone refused to be beat however, and pushed the effort onto the post with a fingertip save that condemned United to a draw at the Hawthorns.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) February 15, 2021
Having now drawn in frustrating fashion to both Everton and West Brom, United are in desperate need of their killer instinct back. With a tough game against Real Sociedad in the Europa League pending, the players cannot afford to miss their chances.
Full time: West Brom 1 – 1 Manchester United
Man of the Match: Mbaye Diagne