London – Jesse Lingard’s first Manchester United goal inspired his side to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion on Saturday that left them a point shy of the Premier League summit.
United had ended a 404-minute goal drought against CSKA Moscow in mid-week, but they laboured again until Lingard broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute at Old Trafford. Juan Mata added a stoppage-time penalty.
Victory kept Louis van Gaal’s side in fourth place, but they are now a point below co-leaders Manchester City and Arsenal, both of whom play on Sunday, and third-place Leicester City, who won 2-1 at home to Watford.
Van Gaal named the same team that had shaded CSKA 1-0 in the Champions League, but they created only two real chances in the first half, with Mata curling wide and Anthony Martial stinging Boaz Myhill’s palms.
It drew the familiar chant of ‘Attack! Attack! Attack!’ from the home fans, but early in the second half Lingard made the breakthrough, gathering Chris Brunt’s clearing header and brilliantly curling in from outside the box.
Mata stroked home a penalty after Gareth McAuley had been sent off for chopping down the fleeing Martial.
At the King Power Stadium, Jamie Vardy scored for the ninth league game running as Leicester sank Watford to continue their fine start to the season under manager Claudio Ranieri.
A howler from Heurelho Gomes saw the Watford goalkeeper allow N’Golo Kante’s toe-poke to trickle through his fingers in the 52nd minute.
Gomes then fouled Vardy inside the box and the England forward netted the ensuing penalty to close to within one game of former United striker Ruud van Nistelrooy’s Premier League record of scoring in 10 successive games.
Troy Deeney replied from the spot for Watford.
West Ham United failed to make ground on the leaders after a 1-1 draw at home to Everton, who levelled through Romelu Lukaku after Manuel Lanzini had put the hosts ahead with a fine, bending effort on the half-hour.
Lukaku equalised two minutes before half-time, rounding Adrian from Gerard Deulofeu’s pass and rolling home his seventh goal in seven games against West Ham.
In a further blow to the hosts, they lost chief creator Dimitri Payet to injury early in the second period.
Newcastle United climbed out of the relegation zone at Bournemouth’s expense after a 27th-minute Ayoze Perez strike and a string of saves by goalkeeper Rob Elliot earned them a smash-and-grab 1-0 win at Dean Court.
Sunderland remain in the bottom three, four points from safety, after losing 1-0 at home to Southampton, who prevailed courtesy of Dusan Tadic’s 69th-minute penalty.
But Norwich City pulled away from danger, climbing above struggling champions Chelsea and Newcastle, after Jonny Howson’s 70th-minute tap-in earned Alex Neil’s men a 1-0 home win over Swansea City.
Chelsea visit Stoke City later on Saturday, with visiting manager Jose Mourinho banned from entering the ground after a foul-mouthed outburst at referee Jon Moss during his side’s recent defeat at West Ham.