Influential midfielder Bruno Fernandes ensured Manchester United came from behind to secure a point against relegation-battlers West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on Sunday. The Red Devils started as firm favourites to secure maximum points but were forced to share the spoils in the 1-1 draw at the end of what feels more like a defeat at the Hawthorns.
Sam Allardyce’s hosts enjoyed a sparkling start to the game when Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher provided an excellent cross for January recruit Mbaye Diagne to break the deadlock as early as the second minute.
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Even though Manchester United have come from behind to win on seven separate occasions in the Premier League this term, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men showed little to suggest that one such comeback was waiting to unfold.
In the absence of Paul Pogba, United lacked the drive from midfield. However, Fernandes’ sublime volley just before the stroke of half-time was a thing of beauty. The Portuguese underlined why he has been the most influential of signings at the club in recent memory by delivering when the team desperately cried out for a hero, yet again.
The Baggies will look back at two chances spurned by Diagne in the second half with disappointment, but the point ensured that a glimmer of hope remains when it comes to avoiding relegation. It will have to be the greatest of escapes considering West Brom are 12 points away from safety.
Sam Johnstone pushing Harry Maguire’s stoppage-time header into the woodwork to deny United a late winner was indeed the great escape on Sunday and perhaps the moment that could usher in hope ahead of a crucial run of fixtures for West Brom.
With games coming up against Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace before they face another top-six opposition in Chelsea, West Brom will know this result has to serve as the catalyst for hope heading into a period that could define their Premier League status at the end of the season.
For United, it proved an opportunity missed. The prospect of a serious title challenge is slowly evaporating owing to a run of one win in five league games coupled with noisy neighbours Manchester City enjoying a sublime run of form.