Two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals, one in each half, set up another Manchester United victory as a 2-0 win at West Bromwich Albion was fully merited for an authoritative display from the first whistle to the last.
The Reds made a lightning start in surprisingly mild December conditions with Jesse Lingard having an early penalty claim refused after a tangle with Allan Nyom. Within five minutes, a first goal had arrived, though, with Lingard the provider as his cross from the right left Ibrahimovic with a straightforward header past Ben Foster from close range for his 15th goal of the season.
Antonio Valencia set up another opportunity from a similar area of the pitch but Wayne Rooney was unable to profit as Jose Mourinho’s men swarmed all over the hosts. Albion’s first moment of danger was supplied by their Swede, Jonas Olsson, who got a touch to a Chris Brunt corner but the ball drifted wide of the far post.
West Brom’s set-pieces were always likely to be a threat but they were fortunate when a neat move involving Paul Pogba and Lingard led to Rooney’s fierce drive being pushed onto the bar by ex-Red Foster in the 23rd minute. Ibrahimovic was then booked for flattening Craig Dawson and the Baggies started to create the clearer openings.
Brunt latched onto a Michael Carrick clearance to shoot straight at David De Gea, Salomon Rondon reached a Matty Phillips centre but failed to direct his header on target and Phillips fired well wide from a misplaced volleyed pass by Carrick. Yet it was United who should have scored again before the break when Lingard blazed a golden opportunity over the bar from inside the box as a Matteo Darmian mis-kick seemed to unhinge the home defence.