LONDON: Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in open play since March as Manchester United won away in the Premier League for only the second time this season with a 2-1 victory against West Brom.
United, unbeaten in the league this season and with two games in hand, remained top on goal difference alone after Manchester City’s 1-0 victory at home to Blackpool.
Rooney opened the scoring at The Hawthorns but substitute Javier Hernandez, sealed victory 15 minutes from time after the Baggies’ Peter Odemwingie had missed a penalty.
“Over the years we’ve had to battle out games and we had to do that today,” said United manger Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rooney scored United’s opener, provided the corner for their second and played through the pain of an ankle injury late on when Ferguson had used up all three of his substitutes. He put United 1-0 up in the third minute when he stooped to head in a Patrice Evra cross.
But West Brom were level 11 minutes later when James Morrison lashed the ball in from 25 yards out.
The hosts, who had a spot-kick appeal turned down in the first half, did have a penalty just after the hour when United’s Rio Ferdinand brought down Jerome Thomas in the box.
But Odemwingie scuffed his spot-kick wide of Tomasz Kuszczak’s right post.
And United punished that miss when unmarked substitute Hernandez headed in Rooney’s corner.
Johnson lands decisive goal
At Eastlands, Adam Johnson’s 34th-minute goal, after a corner was only half cleared, proved decisive against Blackpool.
Carlos Tevez should have put City 2-0 ahead before half-time with a penalty after Yaya Toure was fouled in the box but the Argentina striker missed with a weak spot-kick.
Liverpool, Tottenham prevail
At Anfield, Joe Cole’s last-minute winner gave under pressure Liverpool manager Roy Hodgson a desperately needed come from behind 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers.
Tottenham maintained their push for a top-four finish with a 1-0 win at home to relegation-threatened Fulham.
West Ham out of relegation
West Ham moved off the bottom of the table and out of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win at home to drop rivals Wolves, who were left propping up the Premier League just days after their shock win away to Liverpool.
Sunderland, Stoke triumph
Sunderland bounced back from consecutive losses to inflict a 3-0 defeat on Blackburn Rovers that lifted them to sixth place in the Premier League table while Stoke beat Everton 2-0 in another match.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 2nd, 2011.
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