REUTERS – Manchester United found a home grown solution to their goalscoring problems in the shape of Jesse Lingard as the 22-year-old celebrated his first Premier League start by breaking an Old Trafford stalemate on Saturday.
With Wayne Rooney failing to register a shot on target against a resolute West Bromwich Albion, frustration was mounting before winger Lingard controlled a clearance and curled in a beauty to put the hosts ahead after 52 minutes.
Juan Mata’s late penalty gave the scoreline a comfortable look, but it was another largely frustrating day for the United fans who watched their team dominate possession without carving out sufficient chances.
Lingard was handed his United debut as a substitute by Louis Van Gaal, in his first competitive match in charge, against Swansea City last season but a knee injury in that game wrecked his season and he has had to wait for his chance ever since.Louis Van Gaal,
After starting home and away against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League, and putting in some impressive displays as a substitute in the Premier League, that chance came on Saturday and Lingard fully justified Van Gaal’s faith with his first United goal.
“We played three games in a row without scoring a goal, though we had more than enough chances. That’s why you look for solutions and one of those was to bring Jesse into the team,” Van Gaal, who turned down loan requests for Lingard in the close season, told reporters.
“I’m very happy for him, he deserves it because I think he played very well. I’m a happy manager today.”
Van Gaal’s side enjoyed 76 percent of possession in the first half but could find no way through a West Brom side content to sit back and wait for counter-attacks.
“Everybody knows who has played football that the most difficult way to score is against a very defensive team. The space is only at the wings and we have tried to do that,” said Van Gaal, whose team are fourth, a point behind leaders Manchester City who visit bottom club Aston Villa on Sunday.
“The only way you can play against such a defensive, organised team is the way we do it, you need patience.”
And in another message to United’s demanding fans, the Dutchman added: “When you are yelling ‘attack, attack, attack’ and you attack for 85 minutes, you have to think as a fan, is it alright to yell? But they want to know they have to score.
“We have to score goals, that my mother knows and my grandmother.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)