Manchester United suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to struggling West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford.
Both sides had numerous chances to open the scoring in the first half. The biggest moment was when United were denied what looked like a clear penalty following Craig Dawson’s challenge on Ander Herrera.
United were punished in the second half for their lacklustre performance as Jay Rodriguez headed home from a corner to ensure his side secured a shock victory which subsequently saw Manchester City officially crowned 2017/18 Premier League champions.
Livermore misses golden chance
José Mourinho opted to make two changes to his side following the dramatic 3-2 win over near neighbours Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last weekend. Victor Lindelof and Juan Mata were introduced to the starting line-up in place of Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard.
As for West Brom, Darren Moore opted to name an unchanged starting line-up following the much-improved performance in the 1-1 draw against Swansea City at the Hawthorns last time out.
The hosts enjoyed more of the possession in the opening exchanges but it was Albion who created the first big opportunity of the game.
Rodriguez nicked the ball off Herrera in a dangerous area which allowed Salomoń Rondón to play Jake Livermore in on goal. However, the midfielder dragged his shot and it was comfortably palmed away by David De Gea.
This was shortly followed by another chance for Albion but Rondón could only head James McClean’s cross over the crossbar when he perhaps could have done better.
United first half frustrations
It took United a while to get going but they should have taken the lead with around 20 minutes played. Mata played a delightful ball into the area which Romelu Lukaku latched onto but his shot was blocked by Ben Foster.
The (age) goalkeeper had to be alert to deny his former club again from the rebound as he kept out Alexis Sánchez’s low drive.
These two chances came soon after United had strong appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Paul Tierney after Herrera went down following a challenge from Dawson.
The away side were certainly playing far better than their league position suggests and had another chance to open the scoring before half-time. Dawson was involved at the other end as he headed Chris Brunt’s corner back across goal but no-one was there to convert.
It was a poor first half performance from United and one that was greeted by some boos at the half-time whistle from the home crowd.
Rodriguez punishes lacklustre United
Mourinho clearly was not impressed with his side’s performance in the first half and decided to make a change at half-time as Lingard came on in place of Herrera.
The second half began in a very similar manner to how the first was played out. United were enjoying plenty of possession without really creating any clear cut chances. Mata tried his luck from the edge of the box but saw his shot go wide of the target.
It took until the 65th minute for United to create their first big chance of the second half. Nemanja Matic’s cross into the area was met by Lukaku but his goal-bound header was superbly palmed away by Foster when it looked destined for the bottom corner.
United were made to pay for their lacklustre display in the 72nd minute as Dawson was again left unmarked at the back post from a corner and his header back across goal was headed into the back of the net by Rodriguez to give his side a shock 1-0 lead.
The hosts were clearly stunned by Albion’s opener and had a couple of nervy moments soon afterwards. De Gea’s throw out was wayward and allowed McClean to charge towards goal but his left-footed drive went wide of the right-hand post.
Despite United’s dominance in the latter stages, they were unable to find a leveller as Albion secured one of the most astonishing results of the Premier League season. This result saw Manchester City confirmed as champions, perhaps earlier than they expected.
United will now have to recover from this defeat quickly as they face a huge match against Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley next weekend.