Lukaku, Lingard fire Man United to victory at West Brom


Manchester United moved back within 11 points of Premier League leaders Manchester City by holding on to beat West Brom, who remain winless under Alan Pardew.

Romelu Lukaku opened the scoring with a header – his second goal in as many games – against the team he played for during the 2012-13 season.

Jesse Lingard doubled United’s lead before the break with a shot that deflected off Albion’s Ahmed Hegazi.

The Red Devils appeared to be heading for a comfortable win until Albion substitute Gareth Barry poked home from close range with 13 minutes left.

Pardew’s two other substitutes almost combined for an equaliser – Jay Rodriguez shooting wide from a Chris Brunt cross.

But, despite finishing strongly, the Baggies could not add to their first goal in four games under Pardew, and remain second from bottom.

The result extended their club record run of games without a win to 17.

For much of the game, this had the feel of a routine win for United – underlined by the fact manager Jose Mourinho barely left the dugout for the first hour.

West Brom certainly unsettled them in the closing stages, but the visitors had done enough to take all three points.

Mourinho said in the week he would be on holiday if he felt the chance of catching City had gone, and his team must keep grinding out the wins while hoping their local rivals falter.

Bringing back Ashley Young, Ander Herrera and Marcus Rashford certainly gave United more impetus than in Wednesday’s laboured 1-0 win over Bournemouth.

And Lukaku looks to have responded well to being among those heavily criticised in the wake of last Sunday’s derby defeat at Old Trafford.

The 24-year-old has now scored 15 times for United – and three in his past four appearances.

His celebrations were muted for the second game in succession, though that could be because of a reluctance to annoy his former club’s supporters.

Pardew’s substitutions transformed his side, and the West Brom manager said afterwards he had made a mistake in his initial selection.

Following promising signs in the goalless draw at Liverpool on Wednesday, Pardew attempted to enhance his side’s attacking play by giving 20-year-old Oliver Burke his first Premier League start.

The Scotland international had few chances to show his pace on the right, though he did offer glimpses of why West Brom spent £15m to buy him from RB Leipzig in the summer.

But the hosts looked a completely different proposition when he was replaced by Rodriguez with 26 minutes remaining.

Albion are going to need more than inspired – but ultimately fruitless – fightbacks, though, and Burke’s promise to get them out of their precarious position, and rumours United want to re-sign Jonny Evans, will concern fans.

Captain Evans lends an air of solidity at the back, but it is going forward where his side – with just 13 goals in 18 league games – need something to change very quickly.


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