United bounce back from Greek debacle with 3-0 win at West Brom
Champions appear to have their swagger back as they record back-to-back league wins for first time in 2014
Manchester United kept their fading hopes of Champions League qualification flickering with a breezy 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League yesterday.
The Red Devils reignited their old swagger with goals from Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck giving them back-to-back league wins for the first time since December, following their 2-0 success at Crystal Palace last month.
Victory took the defending champions to 48 points - within nine points of fourth-place Manchester City, although they have played two more games - while Pepe Mel's West Brom remain a point above the relegation zone in 17th place.
"I thought our forward play was very good," United manager David Moyes said.
"I thought both Robin [van Persie] and Wayne were excellent today, and Juan Mata and Adnan [Januzaj]. But it also needed a good defensive performance as well, so all round we were pleased."
United's previous match at The Hawthorns had been Alex Ferguson's last as manager and his successor, Moyes, was looking for a reaction to his side's shock 2-0 loss to Olympiakos in the Champions League.
After Marouane Fellaini had seen a header cleared off the line and West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster had tipped one from Rafael da Silva onto his crossbar, United broke through in the 34th minute.
A free- kick wide on the right gave Van Persie an opportunity to whip a cross into the box and Jones stole in front of a clutch of defenders to beat Foster with a glancing near-post header.
In reply, Claudio Yacob and Victor Anichebe each went close for West Brom, but Foster was fortunate to escape censure after he miscalculated an attempt to control a lofted pass from Mata outside his area and the ball struck him on the hand.
West Brom forced United onto the back foot early in the second half, with Zoltan Gera testing David De Gea at his near post and Mata hooking away a low cross from Anichebe.
However, United tightened their grip on proceedings in the 65th minute, with Rooney nodding in a cross from Rafael at the back post to claim his 11th league goal of the campaign.
Gera worked De Gea again as West Brom probed for a path back into the game, but Welbeck killed off the home fans' hopes of a comeback in the 82nd minute when he ran onto Rooney's through ball to curl a shot past Foster.