A goalless first half saw Sam Johnstone in the West Brom goal being the busier keeper, making a number of smart saves to keep the scores level at the break, even as the home side dominated possession and created the better chances.
All of the game’s notable action was packed into a frantic ten-minute period just after the restart, starting with the visitors being awarded a penalty after Fernandes was adjudged to have fouled Conor Gallagher in the box with barely a minute played.
Fortunately for Fernandes, the referee overturned his initial decision after being advised to consult the pitchside monitor by VAR.
Soon after, Manchester United keeper David de Gea was forced into making an excellent reflex save to keep the visitors out, thrusting out a well-timed boot to deny Conor Townsend’s well-struck effort from close range.
A few minutes later, the home side were awarded a spot-kick of their own after Juan Mata’s cross hit the arm of Darnell Furlong, with Fernandes stepping up to take it.
Having seen his first attempt expertly saved by Johnstone, the Portuguese playmaker was handed his second reprieve in quick succession as replays revealed that the West Brom goalkeeper had come off his line prematurely.
Fernandes confidently tucked away the penalty at the second time of asking, giving his side the lead in the 56th minute.
West Brom were inches away from getting back on level terms in the 65th minute, with substitute Callum Robinson’s long-range curler cannoning back off the bar, with De Gea well beaten.
The visitors’ subsequent efforts to regain parity lacked the requisite commitment, with Manchester United finding it fairly easy to repel any advances towards their goal and mount attacks of their own.
However, Fernandes’ penalty turned out to be the only goal of the game, propelling Manchester United provisionally into ninth in the table after their first home win of the season.
West Brom, on the other hand, remain in search of their first win in the league, either home or away, but can take a few positives, particularly with their well-organised defensive set-up, from this fixture.
With Manchester United now turning their attention to the visit of Istanbul Basaksehir in their upcoming midweek Champions League fixture, let’s take a look at their player ratings from their win over West Brom.
David de Gea: 7/10
Despite not having much to do for most of the game, David de Gea showed impressive levels of concentration to make two excellent saves, one in each half, and preserve his clean sheet.
Having suffered a dip in form last season, the arrival of Dean Henderson seems to have forced the Spaniard to raise his game to maintain his starting spot.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6/10
This was a solid and uneventful outing for Manchester United’s young right-back, who had little to do in defense and did not have to put in his trademark sliding challenges.
However, the offensive aspect of Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s game still needs a lot of work as he did not offer much despite going forward and finding himself on the front foot for a large part of the game.
Victor Lindelof: 6/10
Victor Lindelof used his pace and positioning to make several key interceptions in an accomplished performance in which he wasn’t unduly troubled.
The Swede’s central defensive partnership with Harry Maguire seems to be growing stronger, something that was clearly evident during the course of this game.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Carrying his positive form from the international break to domestic football, Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire was dominant in defense and brought the ball forward from the back with authority, in addition to being a considerable threat from set-pieces.
However, his lack of recovery pace remains a problem area as he continues to leave pockets of space behind him for opposition strikers to exploit during his regular forays forward.
Alex Telles: 7/10
Slotting comfortably into Manchester United’s back four on his Premier League debut, Alex Telles bombed down the wing at every opportunity and got involved in a lot of his side’s attacking play.
Telles’ excellent crossing and willingness to shoot from distance, which was on display on a few occasions during the course of this game, could add another dimension to Manchester United’s attack going forward, one they had been missing previously.
Fred scarcely left a blade of grass uncovered in his role as the more mobile of Manchester United’s two central midfielders, popping up all over the pitch to make tackles and win back possession for his side.
The Brazilian’s form has been a real positive for Manchester United, making him something of a regular in the first-choice starting eleven these days. He came off for McTominay in the latter stages of the game.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
In contrast to his central midfield partner, Nemanja Matic was content with sitting back and forming a reliable shield in front of his side’s defense, even dropping back between Manchester United’s two center-halves in the course of carrying out his defensive duties.
The Serbian called upon every bit of his top-flight experience in the second half to help his side see the game off.
Juan Mata: 6/10
What Juan Mata lacks in pace, he makes up for with his precise passing, clever positioning, and intuitive runs. All of these qualities were on display as he popped up in various positions across the final third and played his part in creating some promising scoring chances. He was replaced by Cavani just after the hour mark.
Bruno Fernandes: 7.5/10
Manchester United’s midfield talisman constantly found himself in the middle of the action, going from nearly conceding a penalty to initially missing and eventually scoring from the spot in a matter of minutes in the second half.
Bruno Fernandes’ usual range of incisive passes was cut off by the visiting side as he kept having to drop deep to pick up the ball and affect the game. However, the Portugal international found ways to keep getting involved, especially as spaces opened up in the second half.
Marcus Rashford: 5/10
Even though he linked up well with Telles down Manchester United’s left flank, Marcus Rashford was another player who struggled to make an impact of note on the game as he received close attention from West Brom’s defenders throughout. Switching wings in the second half didn’t help either as he struggled to find enough space to impact the play.
Anthony Martial: 5/10
This was a poor showing from Manchester United’s number 9, who was returning to Premier League action following a three-match suspension.
Despite coming up against three central defenders, Anthony Martial’s hold-up play was poor and his shooting was wayward as he spurned the best chance of the first half.
Cavani’s second-half introduction saw him move out to the left wing, where he saw more of the ball but struggled to make his mark on the game. The search for his first Premier League goal of the season goes on.
Edinson Cavani: 5/10
Replacing Juan Mata just after an hour, Edinson Cavani took up the central striker’s role and found himself in a number of promising positions. However, he was unable to apply the killer blow to any of the chances that came his way. He picked up a booking for a clumsy tackle late on.
Donny van de Beek: 5/10
This was another appearance off the bench for Manchester United's Donny van de Beek, who entered the field of play for the final ten minutes and was still able to showcase some of his quality on the ball in his short stint.
Scott McTominay: N.A.
Scott McTominay started on the bench for Manchester United following his successful albeit tiring adventures with Scotland in the international break and replaced Fred for the final few minutes of the game just to help his side over the finish line.Published 22 Nov 2020, 07:00 IST