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The Baggies will fume at referee Chris Foy's decision not to award a penalty and show a red card to Gary Neville for his first-half tackle on Graham Dorrans when the scores were level.
As it was, James Morrison's brilliant leveller to Wayne Rooney's first goal in open play since March counted for nothing once Peter Odemwingie had missed a second-half spot-kick.
An in-depth interview with Rooney had been broadcast on MUTV on Friday in which he emphasised his belief that his scoring drought would soon be over. And just three minutes into his first appearance of 2011 it was.
Gabriel Obertan laid the ball back for Patrice Evra, whose far post cross dropped towards Rooney. The England striker stooped slightly before guiding the ball past Scott Carson and into the net.
Morrison was particularly impressive as West Brom continued to push forward. And when Nemanja Vidic nodded the ball at the youngster under pressure from Odemwingie, he let fly with a thunderbolt strike from 25 yards that gave Tomasz Kuszczak no chance as it flew into the top corner.
The visitors could count themselves exceptionally fortunate to get away unscathed when Neville lunged in on Dorrans as the Baggies midfielder bore down on Kuszczak.
Neville got nowhere near the ball as Dorrans went down but referee Foy inexplicably failed to award the spot kick that would also have brought an automatic red card.
As the hour mark ticked past, Sir Alex Ferguson made a double change, introducing Darron Gibson and Hernandez for Obertan and a very below-par Berbatov.
Within seconds though, United were having to face a penalty as Jerome Thomas cut inside Rio Ferdinand and went over the England skipper's trailing leg.
Odemwingie strode up confidently enough but his spot-kick was a shocker as it rolled harmlessly wide.
Steven Reid, only just back from injury, hobbled off and was replaced by Gianni Zuiverloon.
Somen Tchoyi replaced Pablo Ibanez with 19 minutes to go. At the same time, Neville made way for Fabio.
Soon it was United's turn to be furious with Foy, who did not see Thomas sticking his elbow out to block Fabio's cross.
It was not long before the visitors were cheering though as Hernandez wriggled his way into space inside the Baggies six-yard box and steered home Rooney's corner.
Rooney then went close when he got on the end of Fletcher's cross before another dangerous run from Thomas looked like ending in an equaliser until Vidic stuck out a boot to turn the goalbound shot away.
Brunt was then booked for a rash tackle on Rooney, which left the England man in obvious pain and, although he insisted on coming back into the fray after he had originally elected to come off and though badly limping, he helped secure a precious win.