Match Reports

Gross at the double as Albion make dream start to the season

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German's first-half goals help us beat Manchester United 2-1 - our first league win at Old Trafford.

By Bruce Talbot • 07 August 2022

By Paul Hazlewood
Lewis Dunk leads the celebrations after Albion got their second goal.

Pascal Gross scored two first-half goals as we stunned Manchester United a first ever win at Old Trafford.

The German’s brace of close-range finishes were no more than we deserved for a bold display in the first 45 as we dominated the hosts and might even have scored another goal or two.

Albion had to show their resilience after the break. Alexis Mac Allister’s own goal made it 2-1 but we were resilient and made the important blocks we needed to while Rob Sanchez made a couple of terrific saves. It would have been harsh had we not taken all three points though.

Graham Potter selected ten of his players who started our win over Espanyol eight days ago, the only change saw Adam Lallana come in for Enock Mwepu.

There was a raucous atmosphere ahead of kick-off but Leandro Trossard almost punctured the optimistic mood inside the first minute when he charged down Diogo Dalot’s clearance and shot into the side netting from a tight angle on the left.

By Paul Hazlewood
Pascal Gross is mobbed after scoring our first goal

That set the tone for the first half. There was a scare when Bruno Fernandes lifted his shot over from just inside the box but we did most of the pressing and it needed Fred to make a terrific block and prevent Trossard from crossing from the by-line after he had given the ball away on the edge of his own box.

Pascal Gross’s low drive was blocked and Danny Welbeck was inches away from getting his head onto Moises Caicedo’s cross.

The goal we deserved arrived on 30 minutes. Danny Welbeck timed his run to latch onto Trossard’s pass and although Lallana couldn’t tap in his cut-back from the left it ran to Gross who swept it into an empty net from a few yards out.

Ten minutes later Gross doubled the lead after a sensational move which began deep into our territory with Trossard’s back-heel to Caicedo. His pass down the left found Gross and via Lallana Albion switched to the right. March cut inside Luke Shaw and his stinging shot was palmed out by David De Gea to Gross, who blasted it into the roof of the net. Cue more delirium in the away section.

By Paul Hazlewood
Leandro Trossard shrugs off Diogo Dalot

United started the second half quite brightly but Albion could have got a third on 49 minutes. Trossard stood up a cross from the left and Welbeck headed it a yard over the middle of De Gea's goal. 

Ronaldo’s appearance from the bench galvanised the home fans and for the first time in the game Albion were having to defend. But the threat on the counter remained and Welbeck was shoved by Martinez in the United box but referee Paul Tierney rejected Danny’s penalty appeal.

Sanchez showed incredible reflexes on the hour to divert Marcus Rashford’s close-range shot over. The offside flag was raised, but the Spaniard wasn’t to know that and he then made a good low save to keep out Christian Eriksen’s fizzer and Adam Webster mopped up.

But for the first time United had some momentum although the goal that got them back into it was no thing of beauty. Sanchez claimed he was impeded by Dalot as he came to punch a corner away and the ball bounced off Dalot and Sanchez and, despite Alexis Mac Allister’s efforts to clear, rolled over the line, the final touch coming off the Argentinian. VAR checked for handball by Dalot but the goal stood and Old Trafford found it’s voice.

By Paul Hazlewood
Danny Welbeck runs at the United defence.

Sanchez fumbled Rashford’s shot but Joel Veltman was on hand to clear and we were now having to work hard to keep our lead intact and in the closing stages Lewis Dunk got an important block to deny Martinez.

There were five minutes of additional time but Albion negotiated them expertly. A first win at Old Trafford was in the bag and didn’t our travelling fans know it as they saluted their exhausted heroes at the end. What a start to the season!

Albion: Sanchez, Veltman, Dunk, Webster, March (Colwill 90), Caicedo, Lallana (Mwepu 75), Gross, Trossard (Lamptey 75), Welbeck (Undav 90+1).

Subs not used: Steele, Maupay, Sarmiento, Mitoma, van Hecke.