LONDON (Reuters) - Daley Blind’s late second half strike helped a lacklustre Manchester United salvage a 2-2 draw against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns in the Premier League on Monday.
United, who have now gone six games without an away win in the Premier League, their worst run for 18 years, looked sloppy in the opening stages and Stephane Sessegnon’s well-executed finish put the home side ahead at halftime.
Substitute Marouane Fellaini equalised for United two minutes after the break but Saido Berahino put West Brom back in front before Blind’s low strike in the 87th minute.
A draw for United keeps them sixth in the table with 12 points from eight games, while West Brom move up to 14th with nine points.
“I‘m very disappointed because we played our best match of the season and the result is not good enough,” United manager Louis van Gaal told Sky Sports.
”We could have won but that does not count in our world, but I also have to be happy because we created lots of chances and West Brom only had two chances.
”We gave it away which is a pity because we could have had a new start if we had won today.
“When you have 12 points out of eight (matches) it is in my opinion eight points too few.”
In the absence of suspended captain Wayne Rooney, Van Gaal opted to start Robin van Persie as a lone striker with Adnan Januzaj, Juan Mata and Angel Di Maria willing runners in behind.
But West Brom supplied the attacking intent early on and they took the lead on eight minutes when Andre Wisdom broke down the right-hand side and slid a pass into Sessegnon, who rifled a first-time shot past David de Gea from the edge of the area. West Brom continued to expose gaping holes in United’s midfield but Di Maria did provide some light relief for the visitors when his swerving shot was palmed away by Boaz Myhill.
Van Gaal introduced Fellaini in place of Ander Herrera at halftime and the towering Belgian scored his first goal for United within two minutes when he shrugged aside Joleon Lescott’s aerial challenge and powered a shot into the top corner. But Berahino restored West Brom’s advantage on 66 minutes when the young striker collected Chris Brunt’s pass and raced clear of the United defence before calmly slotting the ball past De Gea to score his sixth league goal of the season.
In search of an equaliser, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao came on for Mata and United came close to levelling things up when Van Persie’s right-footed volley came back off the post.
With time running out Netherlands international Blind popped up on the edge of the box and hit a precise low shot past Myhill to recuse a point and spare United’s blushes.
”We are all bitterly disappointed,“ West Brom manager Alan Irvine said. ”We were so close to getting a great result against a top team.
“For us not to get the three points feels really tough at this moment. The players were terrific all the way through.”
Reporting By Michael Hann, editing by Pritha Sarkar/Rex Gowar