West Brom have never beaten United in the Premier League and once Jonas Olsson saw red for a second bookable offence, with the visitor’s already trailing to a Wayne Rooney strike, that record looked set to continue.
The Red Devils have now won seven of their last eight league games and rarely looked in trouble during this encounter were they dominated for long periods.
The breakthrough for Sir Alex Ferguson’s men came on the stroke of half-time when Javier Hernandez ended a mazy run with a perfect cross for Rooney to finish with the simplest of conversions.
The one moment of alarm for the home side came just after the break when Albion had a good shout for a penalty turned down as Patrice Evra brought down Peter Odemwingie, but the officials were unimpressed.
Shortly after and West Brom were reduced to ten men as Olsson clattered Hernandez for a second yellow card.
United wasted no time in making their numerical advantage count and after Keith Andrews fouled Ashley Young inside the penalty area, Rooney steeped to send former United keeper Ben Foster the wrong way to clinch a critical victory in the light of leaders Manchester City going down at Swansea.
Albion’s run of three successive league wins came to an end, but more importantly United leapfrogged City at the summit of the Premiership to lead by one point with ten games remaining.
Referee: Lee Probert
Venue: Old Trafford
Man Utd scorers: Rooney 35, 71
West Brom scorers:
TRIBAL ASKS: Will Man Utd’s experience of coping with the pressure of a title run-in be the difference?
Red card: Olsson (WBA)