5 talking points as Bruno Fernandes nets Man Utd winner in VAR drama
Manchester United hosted West Brom at Old Trafford tonight, with VAR playing a huge role in the late kick-off at Old Trafford.
United, without a Premier League win in four attempts this season going into the encounter, were kept at bay by West Brom in the first-half.
But VAR ultimately decided the outcome, West Brom denied a penalty just after the restart, after ref David Coote overturned his own decision after reviewing it on a pitchside monitor.
Then United were awarded a penalty for handball, missed by Bruno Fernandes, who scored at the second attempt after the kick was retaken because he was off his line early for the first.
Here are five things we learned from United's first home league win of the season:
VAR COMES TO MANCHESTER UNITED'S RESCUE
United needed a hand from VAR to set them on their way to a first league win at home this season.
When Bruno Fernandes brought down Conor Gallagher just after the restart, ref David Coote pointed to the spot, only to change his mind after a VAR review.
Minutes later, Darnell Furlong was guilty of handball, Fernandes saw his penalty saved by Sam Johnstone, but the spot-kick was retaken, after the West Brom keeper clearly came off his line before the kick was taken. Fernandes made no mistake at the second time of asking.
SOLSKJAER'S BAFFLING PERSISTENCE WITH TWO HOLDING MIDFIELDERS
Quite why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to play with two defensive midfielders, in Fred and Nemanja Matic, against opponents in 18th place in the table, without a league win all season and who were always likely to be forced into a policy of containment against United, only he knows.
With West Brom happy to sit back, there was no need to double up on the holding midfielder front, Solskjaer waiting until the 83 minute to break up the Matic/Fred pairing, replacing the latter.
MARTIAL REMAINS A FRUSTRATING ENIGMA
Anthony Martial enjoyed his most prolific campaign at Manchester United last season, plundering 22 goals.
This season, however, Martial has struggled to repeat his form of last term – a three-match ban for a red card not helping – and was twice denied by West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone early on.
Martial should have buried the second chance, after a slick move involving Alex Telles, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, but allowed Johnstone to get down to his tame effort. Martial's work-rate was sorely lacking here, too.
JOHNSTONE THWARTS HIS OLD CLUB
An itinerant goalkeeper who had seven loan spells while at Manchester United, Johnstone proved his enduring value by frustrating his former club.
The 27-year-old, who recently clocked up 100 games for West Brom, twice denied Anthony Martial inside the first 15 minutes and kept the Baggies in the game until Fernandes beat him from the spot at the second attempt.
There was still time for him to pull off a stunning one-handed save from Rashford midway through the second-half.
VAN DE BEEK MADE TO WAIT FOR PREMIER LEAGUE START
Eight games into the Premier League season and United's £40million summer signing,
Donny van de Beek, is still waiting for his first Premier League start.
In a game crying out for his guile on the ball and penetration from midfield, Van de Beek, 23 was overlooked in favour of Juan Mata, 32, who was anonymous until his late withdrawal.
Solskjaer insists he has faith in Van de Beek, but the Holland international must be wondering what he has to do to get a league start, given how ponderous United were there against the Baggies.
Van de Beek eventually came on with 11 minutes left, not enough time for a player of his attacking prowess to make an impact.
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