Premier League: Ashley Young Helps Manchester United Register Narrow Win, Tottenham Hotspur Held By West Brom
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's introduction as a second-half substitute proved crucial as Manchester United finally discovered a way to beat newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's introduction as a second-half substitute proved crucial as Manchester United finally discovered a way to beat newly-promoted Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 at Old Trafford on Saturday. The goal came from a 67th-minute corner, conceded by Solomon March but hotly disputed by the visitors, and their anger increased when Marcus Rashford's cross was headed out to Ashley Young whose shot took a cruel deflection off defender Lewis Dunk on its way into the net. But it had looked like being a frustrating afternoon for Jose Mourinho until his decision to bring on Swedish veteran Ibrahimovic for his third substitute outing in a little over a week following a seven-month injury lay-off.
Brighton had only beaten United once before in their entire history, 35 years ago, but if they were over-awed by the visit to Old Trafford, they certainly did not show it.
Indeed, the best chances of the opening exchanges were carved out by the visitors, sitting proudly in the top 10 of the Premier League table before kick-off.
Just three minutes had gone when Anthony Knockaert worked his way to the byline and sent over a dangerous cross which came tantalisingly close to finding team-mates Glenn Murray and March.
David De Gea was called into action twice in quick succession, making what turned out to be routine saves to gather shots from Pascal Gross and the increasingly busy Knockaert.
Brighton's approach certainly made for an open game with United keen to cut rivals Manchester City's lead at the top of the table to five points.
After two minutes, Romelu Lukaku had played a neat one-two with Anthony Martial, only to undo the good work by leaning back and shooting high over the Brighton goal.
A well-aimed Martial cross from the left almost set up another chance for the Belgian striker but keeper Mathew Ryan rose well to collect and, in their attempts to get Lukaku more involved, Juan Mata's 24th-minute cross picked out his team-mate but he was unable to put any power into his headed effort.
After limiting United's attack so convincingly, Albion were growing in confidence as the half-hour passed and Ryan had still not been tested.
-- Tottenham Hotspurs held by lowly West Brom --
Tottenham's troubles against defensive teams resurfaced as they were held to a damaging 1-1 draw against managerless West Bromwich Albion at Wembley on Saturday.
After complaining this week that his team had struggled to break down teams that defend deep, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was frustrated again as lowly West Brom held on.
They took a surprise early lead through Salomon Rondon before Harry Kane gained a point for Spurs with an instinctive near-post finish in the 74th minute.
It was the Baggies, led by caretaker boss Gary Megson in the first match following Tony Pulis's sacking, who could easily have claimed all three points as Hal Robson-Kanu missed a fine chance at the end.
Pochettino's men are some way off the title pace and now sit 10 points behind leaders Manchester City, who visit Huddersfield on Sunday.
West Brom showed the spirit needed to lift them away from the drop zone and with upcoming matches against Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Swansea, whoever takes charge at the Hawthorns will have reason for cautious optimism.
Tottenham had restored their pride following their derby defeat at Arsenal with a fine comeback victory against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
West Brom were on a 10-match winless run, yet it was Spurs who started poorly as the Baggies took the lead after just four minutes.
Ben Davies's throw to Dele Alli was difficult to control and Alli's England colleague Jake Livermore was quick to pounce.
Livermore's perfectly weighted through-ball picked out Rondon.
Davinson Sanchez tried to challenge but bounced off Rondon's muscular frame and the Venezuelan's well-placed effort deceived the stranded Hugo Lloris and trickled into the bottom corner for his second Premier League goal of the season.