Manchester United were aided by a controversial penalty decision from referee David Coote as they edged past West Brom with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
In a dramatic start to the second half, Coote pointed to the spot having adjudged Bruno Fernandes to have brought down Conor Gallagher. However, despite there appearing to be clear contact, the decision was overturned by Coote after he watched the incident on the pitchside monitor at the advice of VAR.
Moments later, Coote pointed to the spot at the other end as Juan Mata’s cross hit Darnell Furlong’s hand. This penalty decision stood and Sam Johnstone thought he was the hero for West Brom after saving Fernandes’ spot-kick.
However, the visitors’ celebrations were cut short as the goalkeeper, who made a number of fantastic saves during the match, had strayed well off his line, with the VAR ordering a retake that Fernandes lashed into the top left-hand corner.
It proved to be the winning goal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, who moved up to ninth in the table with their fourth win of the season.
Slaven Bilic’s West Brom side, who will feel aggrieved by the decisions that went against them at Old Trafford, stay in the relegation zone.
How the penalty drama unfolded at Old Trafford…
West Brom needed Johnstone to make two important saves in the opening 20 minutes to keep Anthony Martial at bay.
The Manchester United academy graduate palmed away Martial’s header inside the first 100 seconds before making an even better save to keep out the French striker’s powerful low shot, after he was teed up by Fernandes.
At full stretch, Johnstone produced a strong hand to keep out the strike, which was bound for the bottom corner from close range.
Despite United’s early chances, West Brom were not just at Old Trafford to make up the numbers. Karlan Grant pulled away from Victor Lindelof before attempting to pick out the far corner, but David de Gea got a hand to the ball, palming it away from goal.
West Brom were growing in confidence as they continued to frustrate United, and Kyle Bartley went close after winning an aerial battle with Harry Maguire, but, with De Gea only able to watch on, the ball drifted inches over the crossbar.
Then the chaos ensued!
United were left breathing a huge sigh of relief within minutes of the restart.
Coote pointed to the penalty spot when Fernandes appeared to make contact with Gallagher’s shin in the penalty area. The Portugal international pleaded his innocence, claiming a touch on the ball, and Coote was advised to go to the pitchside monitor by VAR.
Replays suggested contact between Fernandes and Gallagher but Coote eventually overturned the decision.
That was not Coote’s final involvement as he soon awarded United a penalty after Mata’s cross struck Furlong’s arm. Fernandes was once again involved in the penalty drama as Johnstone saved his spot-kick, but VAR ordered a retake after the goalkeeper had moved off his line to make the save.
Fernandes stepped up to convert, making no mistake at the second time of asking, to punish Johnstone’s only error of the night.
The penalty sealed all three points for United, leaving West Brom scratching their heads as they failed to get back into the game.
Opta stats – United back to winnings ways in the Premier League at Old Trafford
- Manchester United have won their first home league game of the season, ending a run of six consecutive games without victory (D3 L3) since July (5-2 against Bournemouth).
- Bruno Fernandes’ opener was Man Utd’s first home league goal in 324 minutes of football, since his 2nd minute penalty in the 1-6 defeat to Spurs in October.
- Since the start of last season, 16% of Man Utd’s PL goals have been penalties (13/79), the highest ratio of any team to have played in both seasons.
- Half of Fernandes’ Premier League goals for Man Utd have been penalties (7/14), the highest ratio of any player to score for the club in the competition.
Manchester United are back in action on Tuesday when they face Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League at Old Trafford; Kick off 8pm.
In the Premier League, their next assignment is a trip to Southampton on Sunday November 29, live on Super Sunday; Kick off 2pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.
Meanwhile, West Brom face Sheffield United at The Hawthorns next Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event; Kick off 8pm.