Tony Pulis spoke this week of how 'fortunate' he has been to have Jonny Evans and Darren Fletcher in his ranks, with the two former-Manchester United men having plenty of elite experience. That experience counted for nothing on their Old Trafford returns however, as Louis van Gaal's side comfortably dispatched of 'The Baggies' on a rainy afternoon in Manchester.
Baggies start slowly
Straight from kick-off United looked the better side, moving the ball around with much more intent than 'The Baggies', and it wasn't long before a chance fell to Juan Mata coming into the box from the right wing. The Spaniard's shot bent just around the wrong side of the post however, though it was the early warning shot that Albion perhaps needed to wake them up.
Albion tried to grow into the game somewhat from there, briefly holding the ball and trying to work a chance, though they were threatened once again by Juan Mata as his cross in towards the back post was cleared by Craig Dawson before United's Jesse Lingard could get his head on the ball.
Albion's lack of ability to get the ball forward in a fluid manner very nearly cost them just before half-time, as record signing Salomon Rondon could only pass the ball back to Craig Dawson who horribly misplaced a pass across the back line, with Anthony Martial intercepting and playing in Lingard. Just as the youngster struck the ball, ex-United man Jonny Evans flew in to make a vital last-ditch block.
United very nearly struck their first goal shortly after, with Martial displaying some excellent footwork on the edge of the box and firing towards goal - however, West Brom's hero in their 1-0 victory at Old Trafford last season was their saviour again, as Boaz Myhill parried to ball away to keep the score level.
Lingard breaks the deadlock
Just minutes after the half time break however, Albion were pegged back. A cross from Martial was met with a poor clearance from Chris Brunt, heading the ball straight into the path of Jesse Lingard who struck his first Manchester United goal with a curling effort from just outside the box.
Shortly after the goal, Albion looked all but beaten. Remaining firm at the back but with a complete lack of threat in attack, Albion never looked like adding to the measly three away goals they had racked up this season prior to the game. United continued to move the ball around in a more composed fashion - dominating possession - with 'The Baggies' looking desperate for fresh legs, leading to the introduction of Albion's joint top scorer Saido Berahino and summer signing Rickie Lambert.
Too little too late for Albion as United compound The Baggies' misery
Two minutes after his introduction, Berahino failed to take Albion's best chance of the game. A sublime cross into the box from Craig Dawson fell to the Albion striker, though his header was horribly mis-timed with the ball flying well over the United goal.
Desperate for some flair and creativity in attack, on came Callum McManaman for Albion, though it came far too late for him to make an impact. Just inside added time, things went from bad to worse for Albion as Gareth McAuley brought down Martial in the box - earning a red card for his foul on the young Frenchman, before Mata stepped up to convert the penalty and ensure West Brom went back to the Midlands empty-handed.