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Saturday, 11 January, 2003, 16:51 GMT
Baggies hit rock-bottom
Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates his goal
Van Nistelrooy scored United's quick equaliser
West Brom 1-3 Man Utd

Manchester United closed the gap on leaders Arsenal to two points as they beat West Bromwich Albion with a commanding display at the Hawthorns.

Albion contributed plenty to an entertaining fast-paced game and took an early lead through Jason Koumas' fine early strike.

But they still ended the day bottom of the Premiership after goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy, Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Key moments
6 mins: Koumas puts West Brom ahead
8 mins: Van Nistelrooy gives United an immediate equaliser
23 mins: Scholes volleys United in front
55 mins: Solskjaer increases the lead for United

It was only United's third away win of the season, while West Brom are now without a win in 16 matches.

Ryan Giggs was dropped for United, although Sir Alex Ferguson was buoyed by the return of captain Roy Keane.

For West Brom, Phil Gilchrist was back after six weeks out, replacing the suspended Sean Gregan.

Russell Hoult produced a sharp early save from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but United were shocked after six minutes.

They were determined and their attitude was very good

Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson

A bad pass from Rio Ferdinand allowed Koumas to pick up the ball and, as the United defence backed away, the Welshman fired a 25-yard shot past Fabien Barthez.

West Brom's joy was short-lived. United levelled inside 60 seconds through Van Nistelrooy, the Dutchman slotting home from David Beckham's cross.

And they could do nothing against Scholes' classy strike on 23 minutes.

Keane and Van Nistelrooy deserve credit for their patient build-up with the Irishman providing the cross which Scholes volleyed home.

We scored a terrific goal and then to concede and equaliser so quick and in the manner in which we did was really slack on our part

West Brom boss Gary Megson

The goal gave United plenty of confidence and Solskjaer saw a shot saved by Hoult as they re-established their superiority.

There was no lack of endeavour from West Brom but Gary Megson's side lacked a cutting edge against a strong United defence.

It was no surprise when United increased their lead on 55 minutes, when Solskjaer nipped in at the far post to fire home.

West Brom: Hoult, Moore, Gilchrist, Sigurdsson (Dobie 75), Adam Chambers (Balis 86), Koumas, Johnson, Wallwork, Clement, Dichio, Roberts.
Subs Not Used: Murphy, McInnes, James Chambers.

Man Utd: Barthez, Gary Neville, Ferdinand, Brown, Silvestre, Phil Neville, Beckham, Keane (O'Shea 81), Scholes, van Nistelrooy, Solskjaer (Forlan 67).
Subs Not Used: Blanc, Ricardo, Richardson.

Booked: Scholes.

Att: 27,129

Referee: N Barry (N Lincolnshire).

West Brom manager Gary Megson
"All we can do is keep giving 100% effort"
Man Utd captain Roy Keane
"It would have been nicer to kill the game off earlier"
Man Utd striker Ruud van Nistlerooy
"It's good to score three goals away from home"
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