Salomon Rondon second-half strike gives Baggies victory
West Bromwich Albion picked up a vital three points this afternoon as a Salomon Rondon strike downed Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United at The Hawthorns.
United went into the game in good form, picking up wins against Arsenal and Watford in recent weeks, while West Brom were sitting comfortable in mid-table.
Playing a day later than the majority of teams, United knew going into the game that both West Ham United and Manchester City had picked up valuable three points against Everton and Aston Villa respectively.
To add further pressure, Liverpool won in the lunch-time kick-off today, going just three points behind The Red Devils with a game in hand.
West Brom started the game well and on the front-foot, but it wasn’t until the 26th-minute when the game had it’s first major talking point.
Just minutes after picking up a yellow card, Juan Mata then tripped up Darren Fletcher and received a second yellow and his marching orders.
Despite going down to 10-men, United stayed in the game and looked comfortable for the remainder of the first-half.
It was a similar story in the second, but the game was won just after the hour mark as Rondon controlled, turned and shot past David De Gea to give the Baggies the lead.
The three points puts WBA 11th in the table and 15-points clear of the relegation zone, while United stay sixth, three points behind City, who still have a game in hand.
West Brom manager Tony Pulis speaks to Sky Sports: “The three points and them going down to 10 affected the game. We watched Liverpool go down to 10 before this game and they won 2-1. You’re never comfortable against top teams with pace up front and they have pace. Once we got the goal we kind of settled down.
“Second half we were definitely off the pace a bit but the goal was a smashing finish [by Rondon]. It has taken him time to settle in and he has had ups and downs but they love him to death here.
“At the start of the season before the nonsense with Saido I was looking forward to them playing together. Since Saido has come back in the two of them have looked really lively together and we look a threat.
“The most important thing is the next game, as you’ve seen this year, results have been off the radar. Let’s get 40 points, I think that’s definitely safe.”
West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher speaks to Sky Sports: “First and foremost it takes us to 39 points, one more from 40 and then we will look to keep going. I thought to a man our team performance all round the pitch was fantastic.”
On the red card: “It was the referees decision, I tried to take a quick free kick and get blocked and then tried to start a counter attack and got tripped. It’s the refs decision.
“I thought we looked flat when they went to 10 but the advantage of 11 v 10 seemed to get us through in the end.
“When you’re playing against your old club you are desperate to win. You hope United have great success but my first thought now is West Brom. Can we reach that magic 50 points that West Brom have never had before?”
Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick: “It’s a set back. We wanted to carry on the form and results we have shown of late so it’s very disappointing. Losing a man like we did makes it even more difficult.
“It changed the game because you have one less man in attacking areas which affected us on the break especially. They were not causing us many problems but took their chance.”
On the top four challenge: “It’s not out of sight. We just need to get back to winning ways. It’s easy to say. We have big cup games coming up and we need to be ready to them.”
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal speaks to BBC Sport: “What can I say when you send off a player like Mata. I have asked him if it’s his first red card and he said yes. When you do that you give the first and second yellow within five minutes. You can do it according the rules but I think the referee has to know the person doing it. I don’t think Mata has ever had bad tackles and something like that.
“You know the first one is a stupid yellow card and then you have to be aware the referee can give a second yellow card. A referee has to decide within one second but when you know the player, Mata never hurts a player.
“When you have to play 75 minutes with 10 players. I don’t think we were so uncomfortable. We had several chances to score so it’s always more difficult when you play 10 against 11. It’s always very difficult for a team to play against 11.
“The loss is a big blow because it was not necessary. When you see the first half it was not necessary I think.”
Written by Alex Batt – @AlexBatt