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Manchester United’s hopes of a Premier League title took another hit on Sunday.
Only a sensational Bruno Fernandes volley avoided embarrassment for the Reds in a 1-1 draw at lowly West Brom.
United was fortunate to come away with anything from the match as the Baggies had a few high-quality scoring chances late in the contest.
In the end, the loss does little to help either side in the standings. West Brom remains in 19th and 12 points out of relegation. United drop eight points behind Manchester City but leapfrog Leicester City to move into second.
Sam Allardyce couldn’t have asked for a better start to this game as his side were in front within two minutes.
A brilliant cross from Conor Gallagher found Mbaye Diagne who headed it past David de Gea to give the hosts a shock lead.
The goal seemed to shake Ole Gunnar Soslkjaer’s side who looked sluggish and out of sorts.
The Baggies could’ve made it two-nil in the 27th minute. Conor Townsend curled a beautiful cross into the box towards Robert Snodgrass. The Scotsman got above Luke Shaw, but de Gea did well to deflect it over the bar.
With United seemingly stuck in quicksand unable to generate any offence, it was a moment of magic from Bruno Fernandes that brought them back into the match.
Luke Shaw became the provider with a nicely floated cross towards Fernandes who got away from his marker and hammered a left-footed volley into the goal giving Sam Johnstone no chance.
United thought they’d earned a penalty just past the hour mark after Harry Maguire went to ground from a Semi Ajayi challenge.
After being surrounded by West Brom players though referee Craig Pawson took another look on the VAR. In the end, it seems Pawson made the right decision overturning the penalty.
United’s best chance to take the lead came 20 minutes from the end.
Johnstone did well to save Mason Greenwood’s low shot, but the rebound spilt out to Scott McTominay whose half-volley got cleared off the line by Kyle Bartley.
David de Gea came to the rescue in the 78th minute as Diagne outmuscled Harry Maguire going one on one with the Spaniard who saved the initial effort, then got up quickly to stop the rebound header.
In the 88th minute, Lindelof nearly cost United a point. The Swede didn’t deal with the Furlong cross, but luckily Diagne fired it over the bar.
Man of the Match
Mbaye Diagne had himself quite the game for the Baggies.
The Senegalese striker on loan from Galatasaray got his first Premier goal and could have had more.
The man who got 32 goals in 34 appearances for Kasimpasa gave Lindelof and Maguire all they could handle.
His physicality drew a lot of attention, opening up many holes for his side to exploit.
If only he were a little more clinical in front of goal the Baggies could have come away with three points.
The Baggies felt hard done when a penalty kick got overturned against this very same Man United side in November.
The shoe was on the other foot today as United had a penalty overturned which could have turned the tide.
In the end, it’s a good thing the official went to VAR as Ajayi barely touched Harry Maguire and the penalty got overturned.
United’s recent form is in line with what we’re used to seeing under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
For a while they’re unbeatable and then mysteriously they can’t buy a victory.
Right now, unfortunately for the Reds faithful things are looking bleak. After going unbeaten in 13 straight Premier League matches the Reds have just one win in their last five.
It’s a familiar sight to see with Solskjaer’s teams.
Last season United went unbeaten in their final 19 games to finish third. Then they went cold to start this season with just seven points in six matches.
They’ll need to stop the bleeding soon as City are close to taking a stranglehold on the Premier League title.
Speaking of slumps, West Brom isn’t any better off now than they were to start the day.
The Baggies have won only once under Sam Allardyce in 11 EPL fixtures.
Enjoying the Road
A draw is not what the Reds came for, but the point extends an impressive run for the side. United are now unbeaten in 19 consecutive Premier League matches away from Old Trafford.
Following the match United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said he could care less about the team’s impressive run away from home.
“At the moment, that record [19 games unbeaten away in the Premier League] doesn’t mean anything. We are in desperate need of three points because we want to move up the table and you don’t do that by getting one point away from home. It’s a disappointing outcome today.”
On the opposite side, West Brom’s Sam Allardyce said his side deserved this result.
“It was a fantastic point and a game we could easily have won on the chances we created.”
The Reds travel to Italy as they prepare to face La Liga side Real Sociedad in the first leg of that round of 32 Europa League clash.
The kickoff from Juventus Stadium in Turin is 5:55 pm on Thursday.
Next up in the Premier League they host Newcastle from Old Trafford next Sunday at 7 pm. (JSL).