Juan Mata was sent off after just 26 minutes as ten-man Manchester United suffered a 1-0 defeat against West Bromwich Albion this evening.
Man United enjoyed a solid start to the game but Mata’s sending off, which came after two yellow cards in quick succession, left them with an uphill struggle. Craig Dawson and Stephane Sessegnon both came close for the hosts but solid defending from United helped them keep the score goalless at half-time.
Following the interval, Jesse Lingard’s effort flew narrowly over the bar. United grew in confidence as the half went on but it was West Brom who broke the deadlock when Salomon Rondon fired in after controlling Sebastien Pocognoli’s cross. Tony Pulis’ side were rarely threatened following the strike, meaning they closed out the win.
Mata was sent off after just 26 minutes following two stupid and unnecessary yellow cards.
His first, for blocking a quickly-taken freekick, was quickly followed by a wild swing at former teammate Darren Fletcher. Abysmal from the Spaniard.
The defender, making his return from injury, put in a solid shift under difficult circumstances.
Smalling saved United with a few good tackles in the first half as the team settled into a new system following Mata’s dismissal. He would have been disappointed not to keep the clean sheet, of course, but Smalling can at least be satisfied with his performance.
Martial looked lively during the opening exchanges, with his direct running causing West Brom plenty of problems.
In the second half, Martial continued to look dangerous despite not having much help up top. In fact, West Brom often had to get two or three players to stop him. On what was a disappointing evening for United, Martial gave cause for optimism.
A run of four consecutive wins had lifted the mood among United fans but van Gaal’s side were brought straight back down to earth against West Brom.
There was a sense of United reverting to character, with some slow and insipid play at times, although they weren’t helped by Mata’s sending off. Marouane Fellaini may also be wondering why he wasn’t brought on with United chasing the game. Van Gaal cannot expect to finish in the top four following results like these.