Football: Nervous Manchester United hang on for 2-1 win at West Bromich Albion

Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku manages a subdued celebration with (from far left) Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for his opening goal against West Brom, where he spent a season on loan. United fended off a late fightback by the hosts t
Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku manages a subdued celebration with (from left) Ander Herrera, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard for his opening goal against West Brom, where he spent a season on loan. United fended off a late fightback by the hosts to win 2-1, staying in second spot and 11 points behind city rivals Manchester City.PHOTO: REUTERS

Lukaku and Lingard score before United stave off Baggies for sixth win in seven games

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West Brom 1

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LONDON • Manchester United registered their sixth win in their last seven Premier League matches to keep up the chase on league leaders Manchester City, after holding off a late West Brom rally yesterday to clinch a 2-1 victory.

Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard in the first half at The Hawthorns were enough to seal the three points for Jose Mourinho's side, as the Baggies hit back through Gareth Barry in the 77th minute.

Despite the win, United remain a massive 11 points behind rivals City, after Pep Guardiola's men thrashed Tottenham 4-1 on Saturday.

West Brom, meanwhile, are still stuck in the relegation zone.

According to Opta, manager Alan Pardew has now collected just 28 points from a possible 120 in his last 40 Premier League games.

For United manager Mourinho, he will be glad that his side hung on to restore their three-point advantage over third-placed Chelsea.

"I think we deserved the win. We were the best team. I knew and the players knew that West Brom is very dangerous on set-pieces," he told BBC Sport after the game.

"We controlled the game for a long, long time, then manager Alan Pardew reacts. We had a few chances to kill the game but I knew they would react."

When asked if United's levels dropped during a lacklustre second half, he replied: "I think less ambition after the break. The intensity in the first half maybe we didn't have in the second half.

"West Brom are really powerful in the air. But after their goal we controlled the game again. We brought the ball into the opposition half."

Following a bad run of form, Lukaku has now scored in his last two Premier League games.

What was obvious, however, was that the Belgian was muted in his celebrations, including after the midweek goal in United's 1-0 win against Bournemouth.

Mourinho defended his striker's actions and said that it was not a concern.

"I didn't celebrate too," the Portuguese said.

"Fifteen years ago I look at myself celebrating goals. With maturity you go into levels that you control your emotions better.

"Romelu was a happy kid at West Brom (on loan during the 2012-13 season), maybe at the back of the mind it was his love for the club."

Mourinho will wait on news from his medical team regarding right-back Antonio Valencia, who was forced off with what looked to be a hamstring injury.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 18, 2017, with the headline 'Nervous Devils cling on for win'. Print Edition | Subscribe