Red Devils make winning start

14 August 2011 06:30

Steven Reid's 80th-minute own goal spared David de Gea's blushes and allowed Manchester United to start their Barclays Premier League title defence with a 2-1 victory at West Brom.

Reid turned Ashley Young's cross past Ben Foster to give the visitors victory in what turned out to be a tortuous afternoon for De Gea.

United's £18million replacement for Edwin van der Sar struggled under the high ball all game, and inexplicably dived over Shane Long's shot to gift the Baggies an equaliser to Wayne Rooney's 12th-minute strike on a day when the visitors also lost both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand to injury.

The visitors took the lead when they came cruising out of their own half, Young laying a pass into the path of his England team-mate Rooney, who calmly stroked home from 20 yards.

But then United's defenders, already on edge due to De Gea's failure to impose himself during aerial combat, thought they had kept West Brom at arm's length as Chris Brunt pushed the ball out to Long on the corner of the box in the 37th minute.

It took a little shimmy inside Chris Smalling to create the space for Long to let fly with a shot for the far corner which De Gea jumped over to concede the equaliser.

Struggling with a calf injury since the opening minutes, Vidic eventually gave way just after half-time.

And to compound United's injury problems, Ferdinand limped off with a hamstring injury with fifteen minutes remaining. Phil Jones was introduced, leaving them with one of the most inexperienced defences Ferguson has ever had in a Premier League game.

Still the visitors pushed forward and when Young cut a cross back into the six-yard box, the unfortunate Reid deflected it past Foster.

And though West Brom pushed forward gallantly at the end, the visitors held firm, allowing De Gea to breath again.

Source: PA