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Premier League

  • August 14, 2011
  • • 16:00
  • • The Hawthorns, West Bromwich
  • Referee: M. Jones
  • • Attendance: 25360

West Brom 1-2 Manchester United: Champions recover from De Gea error as Ashley Young forces late own goal to settle entertaining clash

West Brom 1-2 Manchester United: Champions recover from De Gea error as Ashley Young forces late own goal to settle entertaining clash

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The English champions are left to count the cost of victory as both Ferdinand and Vidic limp off injured as Rooney and Young score to claim the three points.

Ashley Young forced a late own goal to ensure Manchester United started the defence of their Premier League title with a hard-fought 2-1 win over West Bromwich Albion.

Wayne Rooney had fired the visitors into an early lead at the Hawthorns with a well-placed left-footed shot from the edge of the area, but new signing Shane Long equalised for the Baggies just before half-time courtesy of a bad mistake from goalkeeper David de Gea.

But as the game reached the final 10 minutes, a driving run and shot across the goalmouth from Young forced an own goal from Steven Reid and sealed three points for United after a tough afternoon.

The result in their first game is a welcome boost given the champions' poor away form last season and the fact title rivals Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal all dropped points on the opening weekend.

Roy Hodgson handed debuts to former Manchester United keeper Ben Foster and Republic of Ireland international Long, who was signed from Reading during the week, while striker Peter Odemwingie failed to recover from an ankle problem in time to play.

The visitors handed first Premier League starts for the Old Trafford side to summer signings De Gea and Young, while Tom Cleverley and Danny Welback started after returning from loan spells at Wigan and Sunderland respectively and impressing in last week's Community Shield.

Patrice Evra, Javier Hernandez, Darren Fletcher and Antonio Valencia were all absentees for Sir Alex Ferguson’s side, while Dimitar Berbatov, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Park Ji-Sung all were forced to settle for places on the bench along with new central defensive signing Phil Jones, who arrived from Blackburn during the summer.

Last season’s champions started off the brightest, with Young exploiting the left wing, supported by Fabio, as the former Aston Villa winger looked to get off the mark for his new employers

But rather than becoming goalscorer, Young became the creator just after the 10 minute mark as he was found by fellow England international Rooney as he broke the West Brom offside trap of the left wing.

He in turn repaid the compliment to the Manchester United striker, giving him the ball just outside the area, before Rooney turned and superbly shot beyond Foster’s outstretched hand and into the bottom corner with his left foot.

Manchester United should have gone two ahead as a top quality passing move involving Welback and Rooney cut open the West Brom defence, before the latter found Nani wide open in the Baggies penalty area. However, unfortunately for the Portuguese winger, his shot was high and ended up with home fans behind the goal.

The winger then had another golden opportunity minutes later, after Foster failed to properly deal with a Young corner from the left wing, allowing Nani to receive the ball on the penalty spot, but once again it was the same outcome for the 24-year-old as his strike went over the bar, although this time he had been under more pressure from onrushing defenders.

With time running out in the half, United’s new keeper De Gea was forced into his first piece of real action as a long ball arrived at the feet of Long and he found the onrushing Paul Scharner, who rifled a shot that was palmed away for a corner by the Spanish shot stopper.

But a minute later, De Gea was left which his head in his hands and his team-mates questioning him as Long received the ball on the left before beating United right-back Chris Smalling and hitting a shot towards the back post which crept through the keeper’s hands and into the net.

The keeper’s confidence seemed to be dented by the error, as firstly Chris Brunt came close, then De Gea was forced to clear a Somen Tchoyi cross which almost crept in at the far post before he was just able to tip it to safety.

Long shot | Irish international claims his first goal for the Baggies

Five minutes after the start of the second half, the visitors were forced into a change as captain Nemanja Vidic was forced to limp from the field with an injury that he picked up earlier in the game, to be replaced by Jonny Evans in the centre of the defence.

United were dominating possession, but failing to find a way past the West Brom defence or Foster in the Baggies goal, so Sir Alex Ferguson decided to make a change to his frontline, taking off Welback and replacing him with Dimitar Berbatov in an attempt to claim all three points.

The home fans were starting to become frustrated with referee Mike Jones and his two assistants as they felt that they were not receiving the rub of the green when it came to certain incidents, such as when a Long shot seemed to be deflected for a corner, but Jones deemed it to be a goal-kick.

With just over a quarter of an hour left the visitors were to change their second centre-half of the day as Rio Ferdinand limped off with what seemed to be hamstring injury to be replaced by Jones in a new-look United defence.

With just over 10 minutes left, De Gea’s uncertainty crept back into the game as a free-kick from the right wing arrived at the back post and once again the Spanish shot stopper looked fragile as he failed to prevent the ball going out for a corner.

United finally claimed a winner on 81 minutes as impressive new signing Young raced in from the left wing and his cross-goal shot was touched on by Gabriel Tamas and lastly deflected off Steven Reid, before finding the bottom left-hand corner of Foster’s net.

The visiting defence managed to stay solid for the remainder of the game, protecting their under pressure keeper De Gea at all costs to secure a valuable three away points, which gives them a strong start to the season after their rivals' dropped points.
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