WEST BROMWICH, England (AP) – Romelu Lukaku scored for the second straight Premier League match to set Manchester United on its way to a 2-1 win at West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.
Jesse Lingard added the second for second-place United, which conceded to Gareth Barry in the 79th minute and was forced to hold on for a victory that trimmed the gap to Manchester City to 11 points.
Lukaku, who spent the 2012-13 season on loan at West Brom, didn’t celebrate after heading in Marcus Rashford’s inswinging cross in the 27th minute. The striker reacted the same way after scoring a near-identical header in United’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Wednesday, suggesting there is an underlying reason for his unhappiness.
Manchester United’s Romelu Lukaku, no. 9, celebrates scoring against West Bromwich Albion with teammates during their English Premier League soccer match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Sunday Dec. 17, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
The Belgium international has been criticized in recent weeks, having scored just one goal in 2 1/2 months before the goal against Bournemouth. Lukaku had started the season with seven goals in his first seven league games.
It was an efficient, unspectacular display from United, which lost captain Antonio Valencia to an apparent hamstring injury midway through the second half and then lost its way as West Brom finished strongly at The Hawthorns.
There was a worrying moment for United in the last few minutes when James McClean’s corner to the far post was nearly bundled into his own net by Nemanja Matic.
United reclaimed outright possession of second place after Chelsea moved level on points on Saturday.
Barry’s close-range strike is West Brom’s only goal in four matches under new manager Alan Pardew that have ended in two draws and two losses, keeping the team in the relegation zone heading into the busy festive period.
This result extended West Brom’s club-record winless run in all competitions to 17 games, the longest in its 139-year history.
Pardew’s side had managed to keep Liverpool’s prolific strikeforce at bay in a 0-0 draw at Anfield but conceded the opener against United in the simplest of ways, a cross by Rashford from the left wing met by a glancing header from Lukaku into the top corner for his 15th goal in all competitions this season.
Lukaku showed more delight after Lingard scored the second goal in the 36th, the winger sending in a low shot from 25 meters that deflected off the outstretched foot of West Brom defender Ahmed Hegazi and past goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, right, celebrates scoring against West Bromwich Albion with teammate Romelu Lukakus during their English Premier League soccer match at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Sunday Dec. 17, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho prior to the English Premier League soccer match against West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Sunday Dec. 17, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew prior to the English Premier League soccer match against Manchester United at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, England, Sunday Dec. 17, 2017. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
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