Myhill the hero as West Brom bag memorable win at Man Utd
West Bromwich Albion can take a deep breath after beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford, as a hard-fought victory saw the Midlands men move seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Tony Pulis’ team set their stall out from the off, with Joleon Lescott deployed as makeshift leftback to frustrate United’s forwards, and Claudio Yacob patrolling the space between midfield and defence with aplomb.
“You shalt not pass!” should have been Albion’s rallying call as the Baggies’ backline stood resolute against a bombardment of Man Utd attacks to condemn the Red Devils to a third successive defeat.
Old Trafford favourite Darren Fletcher will certainly have enjoyed his return to the Theatre of Dreams, and crucially won the free kick that could have serious implications for United’s Champions League hopes, as Liverpool closed the gap to just four points after sinking QPR.
It was fellow Man Utd academy graduate Paddy McNair who brought down Fletcher outside the box, allowing hard-working wingman Chris Brunt to bag the only goal of the game.
Brunt’s stinging set piece caught a deflection off Swedish centre half Jonas Olsson, who may yet be awarded the goal, to wrong-foot a helpless David de Gea in the 62nd minute.
Before the Baggies’ suckerpunch hosts United dominated possession, but despite much toiling it was an ultimately toothless display from the red half of Manchester.
Returning from injury, a slightly rusty but eager Robin van Persie summed up his side’s frustrations by rippling the net early on, yet failing to find a breakthrough.
The Dutchman did look dangerous, however, as a superb volley on the turn was smothered by stand-in stopper Boaz Myhill, who continued to be a bane in the striker’s side throughout.
All possession and no end product, it was a familiar story as the Red Devils played into Pulis’ hands by cluttering up the centre of midfield.
The hero of the hour was certainly Myhill, however, as the California-born keeper topped his sensational double save last time out at Liverpool by denying the Red Devils with a collection of superb saves.
As United continued to pepper West Brom’s box, striking starlet Saido Berahino was judged to have handballed just inside the area and Man Utd appeared to have been given a lifeline.
Van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick over skipper Wayne Rooney but Myhill guessed correctly, diving low and left. Poacher Van Persie then had the opportunity to make amends as Berahino also gave away a freekick, but Albion’s custodian was again his equal.
As the prospect of defeat loomed, Van Persie produced a moment of magic and again threatened to turn the game. After chesting the ball down, the Clockwork Orange attacker produced a ferocious drive from distance, but it was not be his day as Myhill rescued his rearguard once more.
The Red Devils piled on even more late pressure as out-of-favour Di Maria and misfiring forward Radamel Falcao came off the bench for defenders Daley Blind and Paddy McNair, but even with their array of attacking superstars, United could not unlock West Brom’s bacline.
Disappointing Di Maria perhaps had the last genuine chance, as his speculative but curling shot dipped dangerously, only for Myhill to cement a superb performance by tipping the Argentine’s effort over the bar.
West Brom now have little left to do to ensure survival. but Man Utd now face a a tense finish to the season, with their top four chances now at stake.