Manchester United 1 - 1 West Bromwich Albion
Old Trafford, Manchester
Saturday 7th May 2005
Manchester United lost any chance of finishing second in the Premier League after yet another disappointing result against one of the league's lesser sides.
Despite taking the lead after just twenty minutes, and several players putting in sparkling performances, United lost points due to a controversial penalty.
The game started in the usual fashion, with United charging forward, and dominating the game. Ronaldo was at his brilliant best for the full ninety minutes, and was very unlucky not to score from one of his many dazzling runs. And without Rooney on the pitch, all eyes were on him to entertain the crowd.
Uniteds goal came through Ryan Giggs, who took a free-kick so quickly that he caught the West Brom keeper off his line. It was a cheeky goal, but one that United thoroughly deserved - they had somehow amazingly been kept from scoring by this point.
United's jinx of bad fortune in front of goal was not broken by Giggs getting on the scoresheet however - For the rest of the game they created chance after chance, and all went begging. Sir Alex was right when he said that Ruud would've had a field day (Instead Smith was our lone striker, and he is not nearly a good as poaching cheeky goals). Rio Ferdinand missed the easiest chance of the game.
Just when United were looking comfortable, the Referee struck. He awarded a dodgy penalty to West Brom for a fairly innocuous challenge by O'Shea. Sir Alex refused to comment on the penalty for fear of being dragged in front of the FA again - but you could tell that no-one at United was happy with the Referee.
West Brom's striker scored the penalty, and Sir Alex thought the time was right to bring on Rooney, Scholes and Saha. United had wave upon wave of attacks, but the nearest they could come to a goal was hitting the post.
It was unfortunate that United dropped points against West Brom, but we can take heart from the fact that it took serious bad-luck for us not to win - Usually we just get out-fought by the lower teams, so it was nice to see that we were creating plenty of chances. That said, we cannot afford to draw with teams like West Brom next year.
Man Utd: Carroll, Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre, O'Shea, Ronaldo, Phil Neville (Scholes 67), Kleberson (Rooney 67), Fortune, Giggs, Smith (Saha 67)
Subs Not Used: Howard, Miller.
Goals: Giggs 20.
West Brom: Hoult (Kuszczak 22), Albrechtsen, Gaardsoe, Clement, Robinson, Gera (Inamoto 83), Wallwork, Greening, Earnshaw, Campbell, Horsfield (Kanu 66)
Subs Not Used: Scimeca, Moore.
Goals: Earnshaw 60 pen.
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).