Rooney brace sends United top
Published 11/03/2012 | 16:22
Wayne Rooney struck either side of the interval as Manchester United maintained their Premier League title offensive by beating West Brom 2-0 at Old Trafford.
The striker touched home Javier Hernandez's right-wing cross to settle a few nerves before belting home from the spot after Ashley Young had been fouled by Keith Andrews.
It took Rooney on to 26 goals for the season, although Young and Javier Hernandez wasted late chances to increase the lead still further.
The Old Trafford outfit were still trying to adjust to a line-up with only one conventional winger in Young when Andrews slid in to reach Liam Ridgewell's low left-wing cross. It seemed the Irishman was sure to score. Instead, he prodded his effort wide.
Then, when Chris Brunt had touched a 30-yard free-kick into his path, Andrews let fly with a thunderous shot that would have found the bottom corner had David de Gea, not for the first time in recent games, not made a fine, full-length save.
It was the cue for Sir Alex Ferguson's side to awake from their slumber and Young to have an impact. Together with skipper Patrice Evra, Young tormented the right side of West Brom's defence.
The former Aston Villa man had a shot beaten away by Ben Foster, then ran on to Danny Welbeck's back-heeled through ball before cutting a cute cross back into the box which Jonas Olsson managed to scramble away.
When United's opener came, it was a wonder Young was not involved. The Premier League could have been forgiven a sharp intake of breath as Foster immediately appealed for offside as Rooney touched home Hernandez's cross.
Booked at the start of the second period for a foul on Rooney, Olsson brought his afternoon to an early conclusion when he was beaten to Welbeck's pass by Hernandez and chopped the Mexican down instead.
Within five minutes, the hosts had their second, Rooney again the scorer, slotting home a clinical penalty after Andrews had fouled Young.