United Run Halted as Mata Gets Early Bath; Lacklustre Red Devils Punished after Midfielder's Red Card

Daily Post (Liverpool, England), March 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

United Run Halted as Mata Gets Early Bath; Lacklustre Red Devils Punished after Midfielder's Red Card


Byline: SIMON PEACH at The Hawthorns

JUAN MATA's early red card was the catalyst for Manchester United's downfall as Salomon Rondon saw West Brom halt a run of four successive wins for Louis van Gaal's men.

Talk of a topfour challenge followed the recent upturn in fortunes at Old Trafford, but Albion ensured a key week would start with a loss for the visitors.

Salomon celebrates Mata's foolish sending-off midway through the first half gave Tony Pulis' men an advantage on which they capitalised, with Rondon's fine finish earning a 1-0 victory that almost certainly secures his side's survival.

The Venezuela striker's fourth goal in six Premier League matches condemned United to a first league defeat at The Hawthorns since March 1984 and saw them fall behind in the race for the Champions League.

West Brom were perhaps unfortunate not to take the lead in a first half which saw Mata pick up the first red card of his club career - and United's first of the season - after collecting two bookings in less than three minutes.

Rondon his winner V a n Gaal's men showed signs of recovery as they returned from half-time brightly, only for Rondon to lash home and end Albion's run of 11 winless league fixtures at home to the Red Devils.

Defeat leaves United three points off rivals Manchester City - who also boast a game in hand - and it had seemed a distinct possibility after a lacklustre opening period.

Anthony Martial's tame effort after two minutes was all Van Gaal's side could muster, whereas the hosts proved a threat from the outset.

Rondon's directness made him a nuisance but it was his vision that almost undid United, with his clipped ball to Craig Dawson headed wide in the ninth minute.

Saido Berahino's scuffed attempt from a clever Craig Gardner header was blocked by the returning Chris Smalling as the home side continued to press, with the natives unhappy to see Daley Blind's high foot on Berahino adjudged to have been outside the box. …

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