Manchester United were aided by a controversial penalty decision from referee David Coote as they edged past West Brom with a 1-0 victory at Old Trafford.
In a dramatic start to the second half, Coote pointed to the spot having adjudged Bruno Fernandes to have brought down Conor Gallagher. However, despite there appearing to be clear contact, the decision was overturned by Coote after he watched the incident on the pitchside monitor at the advice of VAR.
It was a decision which left West Brom boss Slaven Bilic bemused, while Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his side got lucky.
"I'm very disappointed with the decision," Bilic said. "I've watched it a few times now, for me it's a penalty on Conor Gallagher, it's a clear penalty. I don't understand why he overturned it."
Solskjaer added: "I looked at a penalty this afternoon in the Aston Villa vs Brighton game, and there's contact on the ball and then the man. In my head it might be a penalty. Maybe here we're a tad lucky but none of them are given. Maybe the rules are different to how I interpret them."
Moments after the first penalty incident, Coote pointed to the spot at the other end as Juan Mata's cross hit Darnell Furlong's hand. This penalty decision stood and Sam Johnstone thought he was the hero for West Brom after saving Fernandes' spot-kick.
However, the visitors' celebrations were cut short as the goalkeeper, who made a number of fantastic saves during the match, had strayed well off his line, with the VAR ordering a retake that Fernandes lashed into the top left-hand corner.
It proved to be the winning goal for Solskjaer's side, who moved up to ninth in the table with their first home league win of the season, while West Brom stay 18th.
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In pictures: How the penalty drama unfolded at Old Trafford...
How Man Utd edged past West Brom...
West Brom needed Johnstone to make two important saves in the opening 20 minutes to keep Anthony Martial at bay.
The Manchester United academy graduate palmed away Martial's header inside the first 100 seconds before making an even better save to keep out the French striker's powerful low shot, after he was teed up by Fernandes.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (6), Lindelof (6), Maguire (6), Telles (6), Matic (5), Fred (6), Mata (6), Fernandes (7), Martial (6), Rashford (5).
Subs: Cavani (6), Van de Beek (n/a), McTominay (n/a).
West Brom: Johnstone (8), Furlong (6), Ajayi (7), Bartley (7), Ivanovic (7), Townsend (6), Diangana (7), Gallagher (7), Sawyers (6), Pereira (6), Grant (7).
Subs: Robson-Kanu (6), Robinson (6), Krovinovic (n/a).
Man of the match: Sam Johnstone.
At full stretch, Johnstone produced a strong hand to keep out the strike, which was bound for the bottom corner from close range.
Despite United's early chances, West Brom were not just at Old Trafford to make up the numbers. Karlan Grant pulled away from Victor Lindelof before attempting to pick out the far corner, but David de Gea got a hand to the ball, palming it away from goal.
West Brom were growing in confidence as they continued to frustrate United, and Kyle Bartley went close after winning an aerial battle with Harry Maguire, but, with De Gea only able to watch on, the ball drifted inches over the crossbar.
Then the chaos ensued!
United were left breathing a huge sigh of relief within minutes of the restart.
Coote pointed to the penalty spot when Fernandes appeared to make contact with Gallagher's shin in the penalty area. The Portugal international pleaded his innocence, claiming a touch on the ball, and Coote was advised to go to the pitchside monitor by VAR.
Replays suggested contact between Fernandes and Gallagher but Coote eventually overturned the decision.
That was not Coote's final involvement as he soon awarded United a penalty after Mata's cross struck Furlong's arm. Fernandes was once again involved in the penalty drama as Johnstone saved his spot-kick, but VAR ordered a retake after the goalkeeper had moved off his line to make the save.
- Man Utd: Alex Telles recovered from Covid-19 to make his first Premier League start for Manchester United, with Luke Shaw missing from the squad altogether. Elsewhere Nemanja Matic came in for Scott McTominay, while Victor Lindelof and Marcus Rashford both shook off knocks to start. There was no Paul Pogba in the squad altogether after the Frenchman aggravated a knock in training.
- West Brom: Branislav Ivanovic and Matheus Pereira returned to the starting line-up for West Brom following positive Covid-19 tests which ruled them out of the defeat by Spurs before the international break, while Callum Robinson was on the bench. Filip Krovinovic also joined him among the substitutes with Romaine Sawyers restored to the starting line-up. Captain Jake Livermore was also absent for the visitors.
Fernandes stepped up to convert, making no mistake at the second time of asking, to punish Johnstone's only error of the night.
West Brom attempted to fight back as substitute Callum Robinson struck a fine effort off the crossbar from the edge of the box in the 65th minute.
However, at the other end, Johnstone was having to be at his best between the sticks. The goalkeeper showed excellentreflexes to tip Marcus Rashford's effort wide.
Furlong's last-ditch challenge prevented Martial adding another in stoppage-time as United's wait for a home win came to an end, while West Brom were left scratching their heads as to how they didn't get anything from the game.
Coote's late switch
Referee David Coote was due to be the video assistant referee for Sunday's Premier League game between Liverpool and Leicester, but he was replaced by Andre Marriner and switched to referee the game at Old Trafford.
Coote was the VAR on duty for the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park last month in which Jordan Pickford escaped a red card for his challenge on Virgil van Dijk, a tackle which left the Liverpool captain needing surgery on a knee injury and has sidelined him for a lengthy period of time.
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "It's nice after the international break that you get a win. We needed that win at home. We looked unsettled towards the end even though we should score one or two more to have a more relaxed finish. It's never comfortable against players of this quality. They had a couple of chances and David [de Gea] made two fantastic saves. Tight margins decide games but the mood is decided by the results.
"It's up to us to create momentum, we have the chance to continue the good start in the Champions League and Southampton away is a very difficult game as well. Hopefully we get a few more back and can kick on."
On West Brom's penalty claim: "I looked at a penalty this afternoon, Villa-Brighton and there's contact on the ball and then the man. In my head it might be a penalty. Maybe here we're a tad lucky but none of them are given. Maybe the rules are different to how I interpret them."
West Brom boss Slaven Bilic: "We played well. We had a few chances to score. We were there. I told the guys I'm disappointed, I think we deserved something. We deserved to go in front in the second half. I told them to stay positive and stay and fight and train and we'll win games."
On the penalty they had overturned: "I'm very disappointed with the decision. I felt like 'small West Brom'. All those crucial decisions went against us. I've watched it a few times and it's a clear penalty. I don't understand why he overturned it."
On United's penalty: "It's a handball. It's a bit unlucky but it's handball. Before that it was a clear foul on Conor Gallagher. Instead of 1-0 for us, it's 1-0 for them. When you play against Manchester United away it's a huge difference."
Man of the match - Sam Johnstone
The former Manchester United academy player is probably thinking about what might have been after a night of high drama at Old Trafford.
The 27-year-old pulled off a brilliant save to keep out Fernandes' initial penalty, but he clearly crept off his line and could not keep out the second attempt.
In the end, it was his only error on a night when he made a number of fine saves to keep Manchester United at bay, and it proved costly.
But that should not take away from his fine display. He was the standout player on the pitch and his saves to deny Martial in the first half and Rashford in the second were of the highest order.
Opta stats - United back to winnings ways in the Premier League at Old Trafford
- Manchester United have won their first home league game of the season, ending a run of six consecutive games without victory (D3 L3) since July (5-2 against Bournemouth).
- Bruno Fernandes' opener was Man Utd's first home league goal in 324 minutes of football, since his 2nd minute penalty in the 1-6 defeat to Spurs in October.
- Since the start of last season, 16% of Man Utd's PL goals have been penalties (13/79), the highest ratio of any team to have played in both seasons.
- Half of Fernandes' Premier League goals for Man Utd have been penalties (7/14), the highest ratio of any player to score for the club in the competition.
Manchester United are back in action on Tuesday when they face Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League at Old Trafford; Kick off 8pm.
In the Premier League, their next assignment is a trip to Southampton on Sunday November 29, live on Super Sunday; Kick off 2pm, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event.
Meanwhile, West Brom face Sheffield United at The Hawthorns next Saturday, live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event; Kick off 8pm.