Manchester United produced a dominant display to overturn a lacklustre West Bromwich Albion 3-0 on a sunny afternoon at The Hawthorns.
Goals from Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck were enough to keep alive the Red Devil’s slim hopes of a top four finish and slip The Baggies ever closer to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
Fans of both teams may have been hoping for a repeat of the epic 5-5 contest the last time these teams met on this ground in May, but the first half hour was a muted midfield battle with goalkeepers having little to do.
Under pressure West Brom manager Pepe Mel set his team up to snuff out any possible threat from United and all went well until the 34th minute when his defenders completely switched off and allowed Phil Jones to power the ball into the net from an in-swinging free kick from the right by Robin Van Persie.
Minutes later, the game could easily have got worse for West Brom when Baggies keeper Ben Foster appeared to handle the ball just outside the box but luckily referee Jonathan Moss didn't spot it.Just before half time, the home team were forced into a change taking off the injured Claudio Yacob for James Morrison which seemed to benefit them as they created half-chances either side of the half time whistle. The best falling to Zoltan Geta who played a good one two on the edge of the area with Victor Anichebe but his shot with his weaker left foot was easily saved by David De Gea.
In the second half David Moyes’ men doubled their lead on 65 minutes following some good link up play between Wayne Rooney, Juan Mata and Rafael which saw the United righ
t-back float in a perfect cross which Rooney met unchallenged at the far post to head home and pretty much put the game beyond West Brom.
Dutch striker Van Persie was involved in the in the game’s one moment of controversy when he dived in on Baggies defender Steven Reid while on a yellow card. The home fans screamed for a red card but the referee rightly warned Van Persie for the final time, a decision which replays showed was correct.
Minutes later Van Persie was replaced by Danny Welbeck and with 83 minutes gone the substitute made it three. Rooney picked up the ball in the middle of the field, drove at the West Brom defence and slipped in Welbeck on the left and the Englishman clinically curled the ball around the advancing Foster to end the match.
After the game Manchester United manager David Moyes praised the performances of under fire England defender Chris Smalling as well as Rooney and Marouane Fellaini while Baggies boss Pepe Mel vowed to continue the fight for survival with four important games against fellow strugglers Swansea, Hull, Cardiff and Norwich taking on increasing significance.