Jose Salomon Rondon scored the only goal of the game of the evening clash as West Brom defeated 10-man Manchester United 1-0, dealing a blow to the visitors’ top-four hopes.
United came into the game buoyed by four wins in a row in all competitions, but their task at The Hawthorns was made far tougher when Juan Mata picked up the first Premier League red card of his career with two quick-fire bookings in the first half.
Louis van Gaal’s side responded well to that setback and came close to opening the scoring through young Marcus Rashford, as they looked to counter West Brom, who struggled to carve out many meaningful chances despite their advantage.
Yet Tony Pulis’ men found their breakthrough midway through the second half thanks to Rondon’s clever finish from close range – his fourth goal in six league matches.
Van Gaal’s side pushed for an equaliser, but diligent West Brom defending ensured the visitors remain sixth in the table and three points behind Manchester City in fourth, having played a game more.
United, who welcomed back Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian and Michael Carrick to the starting line-up, started brightly, but Craig Dawson missed the first decent chance when he headed wide following Rondon’s teasing cross.
The home side began to look an increasing threat on the break and from set-pieces as United laboured in possession, with belief among the home fans growing further when Mata was sent off for two yellow cards picked up in the space of three minutes – the first for blocking a quick free-kick, the second for a late swing of his left foot to bring down former team-mate Darren Fletcher.
United was forced onto the defensive, but, barring a low drive from Saido Berahino which David de Gea saved comfortably, West Brom struggled to make its numerical advantage count.