West Brom 1 Man United 2

Ashley Young

West Brom­wich Al­bion 1 Man­chester Uni­ted 2, The Haw­thorns, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, Au­gust 14, 2011. Sir Al­ex Ferguson´s Man­chester Uni­ted kicked off their Pre­mier Lea­gue title de­fence wi­th a nar­row 2-1 win ag­ainst West Brom­wich Al­bion at The Hawthorns.

Man­chester United´s fir­st te­am squad for the 2011-12 sea­son con­tained goal­keep­ers Da­vid de Gea, Sam John­stone, An­ders Linde­gaard, To­masz Kusz­czak, and Ben Amos; de­fenders Pat­rice Ev­ra, Jon­ny Evans, Ra­fael da Silva, Sean Mc­Ginty, Phil Jones, Al­berto Mas­sacci, Rio Fer­dinand, Mar­nick Vermijl, Tom Thorpe, Ritch­ie De Laet, Fa­bio da Silva, Mi­chael Ke­ane, Reece Bro­wn, Zeki Fry­ers, Ne­manja Vid­ic, Chris Small­ing; mid­field­ers Oli­veira An­der­son, Ji-sung Park, Mi­chael Car­rick, Dan­ny Drink­wa­ter, Ash­ley Young, Lu­is Nani, Ry­an Gig­gs, Tom Clev­er­ley, Dar­ren Fletch­er, An­tonio Va­lencia, Dar­ron Gib­son, Rob­bie Bra­dy, Dav­ide Petrucci, Paul Po­gba, Matty Ja­mes, Ry­an Tunnicliffe, Oliv­er Nor­wood, Ravel Mor­ris­on, Lar­nell Cole, Jesse Lin­gard; and for­wards Mi­chael Owen, Will Ke­ane, Dan­ny Wel­beck, Josh King, Ti­ago Cor­reia, Mame Biram Di­ouf, Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov, Fe­d­erico Ma­cheda, Way­ne Roo­ney, and Javi­er Her­nandez. De Gea, Jones, and Young had joi­ned Man­chester Uni­ted dur­ing the sum­mer, whi­le Ed­win van der Sar, Con­or Dev­lin, John O’Shea, Wes Bro­wn, Oliv­er Gill, Paul Scho­les, Gab­riel Ober­tan, Owen Har­greaves, and Nicky Ajose had left the Old Traf­ford club.

De­fend­ing Barclays Pre­mier Lea­gue Cham­pi­ons Man­chester Uni­ted kicked off the 2011-12 cam­paign wi­th a fix­ture ag­ainst Roy Hodgson´s West Brom­wich Al­bion at The Haw­thorns Sta­dium. The Red Dev­ils came in­to the sea­son open­er on the back of a closely con­tested 3-2 Com­munity Shield win over cross­town ad­versar­ies Man­chester City at Wemb­ley Sta­dium, where­as West Brom­wich had drawn 1-1 ag­ainst Itali­an Serie A out­fit Parma in a friendly en­counter at The Haw­thorns. Al­though Man­chester Uni­ted were with­out key play­ers Pat­rice Ev­ra, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Javi­er “Chi­charito” Her­nandez, and An­tonio Va­lencia who were all side­lined due to vari­ous in­jur­ies, Sir Al­ex Fer­guson si­de were strong fa­vour­ites to de­feat The Throstles des­pite play­ing away from ho­me, and the gu­ests dom­in­ated the fir­st pe­riod from the fir­st kick wi­th de­cent pos­ses­sion and passing play. And it came as no sur­prise to any­one when Eng­land in­ter­na­tion­al stri­ker Way­ne Roo­ney opened the scor­ing ac­count for Man­chester Uni­ted in the 13th min­ute of the tie as he ac­cep­ted a slick pass from for­mer As­ton Vil­la wing­er Ash­ley Young in­side the eight­een-yard area and ham­mered ho­me to give the vis­it­ors from Man­chester the lead. The Black Coun­try club nev­er­the­less hit back when Re­pub­lic of Ire­land in­ter­na­tion­al Shane Long ma­naged to equal­ise for Hodgson´s men eight min­utes ahead of the ha­lf-time break thanks to a mis­take from £18.3 mil­lion sum­mer sign­ing Da­vid de Gea. It was a blatantly poor piece of goal­keep­ing from the pre­vi­ous At­letico Mad­rid net­mind­er who had in­deed got off to a very dif­fi­cult start to his Man­chester Uni­ted career.

In the sec­ond ha­lf of the tussle, West Brom­wich Al­bion were en­thu­si­ast­ic and pos­it­ive about their task, and the mat­ch switched from end to end wi­th bo­th te­ams hav­ing ef­forts at goal. Fol­low­ing 65 min­utes of ac­tion, Sir Al­ex Fer­guson de­cided to re­place Dan­ny Wel­beck wi­th bat­ter­ing ram stri­ker Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov who­se pace and power made Man­chester United´s at­tack more dir­ect. Some­how West Brom­wich were still level, and the ho­me sup­port­ers star­ted to be­lieve in their te­am, but in the end The Bag­gies were worn down by Man­chester Uni­ted. Wi­th on­ly nine min­utes re­maining on the watch of ref­er­ee Mi­chael Jones, a low cross ball from new boy Ash­ley Young ev­entually fou­nd its way in­to the goal via West Brom­wich right full­back Ste­ven Re­id, and even tho­ugh the des­per­ate hosts push­ed hard for­ward dur­ing the clos­ing sta­ges to try to force an equal­iser, the Uni­ted de­fence held firm for the re­mainder of the clash. And to sum up the ga­me, Man­chester Uni­ted were in a dif­fer­ent class from the be­gin­ning to the end, and the 2-1 tri­umph over Al­bion was a great way to be­gin the 2011-12 sea­son for the Old Traf­ford play­ers who no doubt had their eyes set on yet an­oth­er cham­pi­on­ship title. West Brom­wich Al­bion Te­am: Ben Fo­ster, Jo­nas Ols­son, Paul Scharner, Gab­riel Tamas, Ste­ven Re­id, Nicky Shor­ey, Chris Brunt, Ja­mes Mor­ris­on, Youssef Mu­lumbu, So­men Tchoyi, Shane Long. Sub­stitutes: Marc-Ant­oine For­tune, Si­mon Cox, Craig Dawson, Gonzalo Jara, Ge­orge Thorne, Graeme Dor­rans, Mar­ton Fu­lop. Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Da­vid de Gea, Chris Small­ing, Ne­manja Vid­ic, Rio Fer­dinand, Fa­bio da Silva, Oli­veira An­der­son, Ash­ley Young, Tom Clev­er­ley, Lu­is Nani, Way­ne Roo­ney, Dan­ny Wel­beck. Sub­stitutes: Ji-sung Park, Jon­ny Evans, Phil Jones, Mi­chael Car­rick, Ry­an Gig­gs, Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov, An­ders Lindegaard.

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