Match Reports

Welbeck strikes but Albion beaten at Old Trafford

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United sting Seagulls with second-half fightback.

By Bruce Talbot • 04 April 2021

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck celebrates netting the opener at Old Trafford.
  • Manchester United 2, Albion 1

Danny Welbeck scored on his return to Old Trafford before Albion were pegged back by Manchester United.

Welbeck put his side in front with a close-range header – his third goal of the season – to reward a bright opening 45 minutes by the visitors.

Marcus Rashford equalised midway through the second half but Albion were furious when Harry Maguire appeared to pull back Welbeck in the six-yard box but no penalty was awarded.

To make matters worse, Marcus Greenwood headed the winner with seven minutes to go, leaving Albion still 16th in the table albeit with a six-point cushion above the relegation zone.

What happened...

Graham Potter unsurprisingly named an unchanged team after Albion's back-to-back wins prior to the international break but the bench included Moises Caicedo.

The visitors survived in the eighth minute when United hit the post. Lewis Dunk cleared a free kick only as far as Greenwood, who kept his volley from 12 yards down but saw it hit the base of Rob Sanchez’s right-hand post.

Four minutes later though the visitors were in front. Pascal Gross pass picked out Neal Maupay on the right and his cross was perfect for Welbeck to attack. His first header was superbly blocked by Dean Henderson with his foot, but Welbeck nodded the loose ball into the net from point-blank range.

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck nods in to put Albion in the lead.

The United keeper was at full stretch in the 19th minute to deny Lewis Dunk. Gross swung an inviting free kick in from wide on the left and the captain met it powerfully, but Henderson stretched to turn it over the bar.

As Albion discovered at Anfield earlier in the season, the traditional fortresses of English football are much less intimidating without fans and they continued to play their part in an entertaining and open first half. They were nearly in business again when Henderson dropped Gross' cross in the six-yard box, forcing Harry Maguire to make a hasty clearance amidst a ruck of bodies.

United had a lot of the ball but Sanchez had little else to do in the first half as Albion kept their shape and stopped the supply line from wide areas. And in stoppage time they went close again when Jakub Moder's shot was deflected wide.

Given how well they had played Albion could have done without half-time and they would have expected a response from their hosts. Marcus Rashford's snap shot, which he fired straight at Sanchez, hinted at better things for United and Sanchez came quickly off his line when Fernandes was picked out by Paul Pogba's pass.

By Paul Hazlewood
Adam Lallana in action against Manchester United.

But on 62 minutes the home side levelled. There was an element of fortune in the build-up when the ball spun into Fernandes’ path after Joel Veltman tried to dispossess Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Fernandes ran at the defence before finding Rashford on the left and he expertly opened up his body and side-footed the ball past Sanchez and inside the far post.

Alexis Mac Allister came on for Leandro Trossard but momentum was now with United. Fred's long-ranger took a big deflection and dipped onto the roof of the net but with 20 minutes to go the home side had a big let-off. Albion broke and when Maupay passed to Welbeck he appeared to have been held back by Maguire in the six-yard box. The incident was checked by VAR but, to Albion's consternation, no penalty was awarded.

Sanchez could only parry a fiercely struck daisy-cutter from Daniel James and Greenwood scooped the loose ball over then the Spanish keeper got right behind Fernandes' shot. Seven minutes from time, though, he could do little when United went in front. Pogba's volley bounced down and into the six-yard box and Greenwood, who was unmarked, guided a header into the net although the last touch probably came off Ben White.

Albion pressed for an equaliser but their wait for a first win at Old Trafford continues.

The line-up

Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, White, Gross, Bissouma, Lallana (Jahanbakhsh 87), Moder (Zeqiri 87), Maupay, Trossard (Mac Allister 63), Welbeck.

Subs: Steele, Karbownik, Izquierdo, Propper, Caicedo.

Booked: Gross, White.