West Brom shock Manchester United into getting their act together

Harry Maguire, Manchester United (Photo by Nick Potts - Pool/Getty Images)
Harry Maguire, Manchester United (Photo by Nick Potts - Pool/Getty Images) /

An early West Brom goal forced Manchester United into action. West Brom wanted it…really wanted it. That was apparent from the opening minutes of the game, and so many times throughout the game they nearly walked away with the win.

No one turned on their television on Sunday expecting anything other than a Manchester United victory (except perhaps optimistic, die-hard West Brom fans). Yet it took less than two minutes for West Brom to stun Manchester United as Mbaye Diagne outworked and outmuscled Victor Lindelöf for a well-placed header goal to kick off the scoring.

Whether or not Diagne fouled Lindelöf as he barreled his way through can be argued, but all things considered, he deserved the goal. Simply put, he wanted it more.

Manchester United didn’t show much promise

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Anyone watching the game had to wait far too long to see the spark in Manchester United ignited, but for a squad with such obvious talent, it was only a matter of time before they eventually took control. Marcus Rashford showed moments of brilliance on the wing, and United captain Harry Maguire found himself pushing forward often, but it wasn’t until the 44th minute that Manchester United would equalize on a Bruno Fernandes goal.

Fernandes, who has been instrumental in Manchester United’s success, had a quiet half. After finding himself lying in the penalty box late in the half grimacing in pain, a switch seemed to flip inside as the striker began to attack the ball with a newfound determination.

His full volley that rattled the back of the net had me exclaiming “That’s more like it,” and it looked as though Fernandes’ goal might just be the start of a turning of the tide.

The reality was that no matter how much Manchester United dominated possession, it remained anybody’s game to win. Diagne was the name repeated over and over as he had two more juicy opportunities, one of which for a striker of that caliber should have been a clear goal.

Manchester United continued to attempt to battle their way back with magical skill work from Rashford, a PK decision for United that was reversed after VAR review, and a header off the post in the waning seconds of the game for Harry Maguire that left him standing in disbelief.

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West Brom battled and fought, didn’t seem to tire despite having far less of the ball, and ultimately capitalized on their chances enough to force United into dropping points. Though the tie puts United in 2nd place in the league table, they’ll have no chance at overtaking first-place Manchester City if they continue to be outfought on defense and give up early goals to weaker teams.