Premier League - Van der Sar gaffe costs United
Sat, 16 Oct 16:57:00 2010
The normally reliable Dutchman fumbled a simple catch into the path of an opponent as United suffered their third defensive meltdown in a matter of weeks, having seen two-goal advantages slip against Everton and Liverpool, although they won the latter game.
It was the third consecutive draw for Sir Alex Ferguson's side, who have not won in the Premier League since September 19, and another creditable result for Roberto Di Matteo's high-flying West Brom.
The failure will put further spotlight on Ferguson's decision to leave troubled star Wayne Rooney on the bench.
The argument Rooney was being rested does not hold water. Yes, United have a Champions League game on Wednesday, but a home game against Group C whipping boys Bursaspor hardly represent an occasion demanding eight days' rest.
Whether Rooney was being punished for his contradiction of Ferguson's version of events regarding an ankle injury, or simply dropped on account of his poor form, he will continue to dominate the headlines.
Within five minutes, Ferguson's selection of Hernandez appeared to be justified as the Mexican snaffled his first Premier League goal.
Nani's dipping free-kick was tame, but Scott Carson succeeded only in shovelling it into the path of Hernandez who made no mistake from close range. A horrible piece of goalkeeping.
United were not exactly dominant, but West Brom made enough defensive slips to keep the chances flowing.
Berbatov sidefooted nonchalantly wide from 10 yards when Michael Carrick found him inexplicably unmarked, while Ryan Giggs wasted a good free-kick opportunity after the Welshman was brought down by Yousuf Mulumbu.
It was two on 25 minutes, when Nani brought the ball through the middle unchallenged, played a simple one-two with Dimitar Berbatov and swept the return pass into the bottom left corner.
It looked like game over - without totally impressing Ferguson's men were in a comfortable position while their opponents could not translate their attractive football into goalscoring chances.
But the second half brought an epic collapse, as United surrendered a two-goal lead for the third time this season, having done so against Everton and Liverpool.
The first goal came on 50 minutes after Anderson was adjudged to have fouled Tchoyi on the edge of the box wide on the right. Chris Brunt's free-kick took two deflections; the second off Patrice Evra's thigh taking it over the line - Van der Sar belatedly clawed the ball away but the goal stood.
If the first was soft, the second, five minutes later, was absolutely calamitous.
Van der Sar went to catch a Brunt cross unchallenged, but fumbled it spectacularly and the ball fell to Tchoyi who finished into the empty net.
It was an extraordinary mistake by any standards, let alone those of the normally reliable Van der Sar.
Far from roaring back, United looked bereft of ideas and confidence after yet another meltdown.
It took the introduction of Rooney and Scholes from the bench on 72 minutes to lift the crowd, and though his cameo was generally poor, Rooney came close to nicking a winner.
A Gabriel Tamas lob to Carson was adjudged a backpass by referee Mike Jones, and the indirect free-kick was touched to Rooney, but Tamas himself cleared off the line.Alex Chick / Eurosport