Manchester United saw off West Bromwich Albion 2-0 to end their winless domestic run of three matches on Saturday. It was a characteristically blunt performance from Louis van Gaal's men, but considering the Baggies' habit of frustrating the Reds over the last few seasons, it's certainly a good result.
United dominated possession from the first whistle, though struggled to break through the massed ranks of striped shirts. The only real opening came after a quarter of an hour, though Juan Mata could only curl his low shot wide of the far post after being slipped through by Wayne Rooney.
Only once in the entire opening period did United force a stop from Boaz Myhill, and it wasn't a particularly difficult one: Anthony Martial's shot from the edge of the area had the power but lacked the placement, allowing the Baggies' keeper to parry it to safety. At the other end, David de Gea was even more undisturbed, but that didn't placate the frustrated home crowd.
Fortunately they didn't have to wait long in the second period before some excitement, when a single moment of individual quality from the Warrington wonder Jesse Lingard gave United the advantage. He took receipt of a loose ball on the edge of the area and looped a low shot beyond Myhill and into the bottom corner, breaking a deadlock that had looked just about shatterproof.
The goal forced West Brom into playing a little more proactively, though United emerged from a brief spell of Baggies pressure unscathed. That was less the result of solid defending and more thanks to some extraordinary profligacy from Saido Berahino: the young striker had a free header from point-blank range minutes after coming off the bench, and somehow managed to nod over.
The only moment of interest in the following few minutes was a debut at left-back for 18-year-old beanpole Cameron Borthwick-Jackson, though it was also pleasant to see Rooney withdrawn for Ander Herrera moments later -- let's just hope it happens a little bit quicker next week.
However, there was still time for United to score a stoppage time second, when West Brom centre-back Gareth McAuley brought Anthony Martial down in the penalty area. A red card and a Juan Mata penalty was the result, with the Spaniard chipping the ball home to seal the points.