Blind rescues a point for Manchester United as they sputter against West Brom
Daley Blind rescued spluttering Manchester United with a dramatic late equaliser in Monday’s 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns.
Albion had twice led through Stephane Sessegnon and Saido Berahino, but United avoided an embarrassing defeat as substitute Marouane Fellaini equalised with his first United goal before Blind scored the second leveller in the 87th minute to ensure Louis van Gaal’s side stretched their unbeaten run to three matches.
United’s erratic display was another reminder to van Gaal that his team remain very much a work in progress.
They are without an away league win this season, suggesting they are a long way from rivalling Manchester City and Chelsea for the title this term.
“I’m very disappointed because we played our best match of the season and the result is not good enough.We could have won but that does not count in our world. We gave it away which is a pity because we could have had a new start if we had won.” - Louis van Gaal after the match.
United sit sixth in the Premier League table - already 10 adrift of leaders Chelsea and just three ahead of the Baggies, who were excellent value for their point following a display which provided further evidence they are progressing under head coach Alan Irvine.
The home side went ahead courtesy of a stunning strike from Stephane Sessegnon.
Van Gaal is unlikely to have been too impressed with Luke Shaw’s defending as the England left-back allowed Andre Wisdom to charge from his own half deep into United territory.
Wisdom’s clever cut-back was met with a wonderfully whipped first-time effort from Sessegnon at the edge of the area which flew inside the right upright.
Stephane Sessegnon celebrating scoring his team's first goal. Photo: Reuters
United responded with a brilliant probing ball from Angel Di Maria finding Robin van Persie on the edge of the six-yard area, yet his first-time effort was blocked by Albion goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
In the absence of the suspended Wayne Rooney, United lacked a spark in central areas with Juan Mata and Ander Herrera both not at their best.
Di Maria was more dynamic and the former Real Madrid midfielder forced a smart save from Myhill with a long-range effort.
Fellaini came on at half-time as van Gaal looked to spark his team into life.
It proved an inspired move as the Belgium midfielder required just three minutes to make an impact, controlling a Di Maria cross before bursting past Joleon Lescott and driving a rising shot beyond Myhill at his near post.
Fellaini sends a thumping shot past the West Brom goalkeeper. Photo: Reuters
Having soaked up United’s pressure, the home side then left their opponents stunned with a clinical 66th-minute counter-attack which exposed the defensive frailties that have undermined van Gaal’s team since his pre-season arrival.
Chris Brunt’s threaded ball from midfield dissected the United rearguard far too easily and Berahino, played onside by Rafael, strolled through before calmly slotting inside the right post.
It looked set to be a night of frustration for the visitors, however Blind had other ideas as he curled a pinpoint shot inside Myhill’s near post from the edge of the area to spare United’s blushes.