Ibrahimovic brace downs Baggies at The Hawthorns
- Ibrahimovic heads early opener (5)
- United No.9 adds deflected second (56)
- Baggies go into Christmas on 23 points
- Attendance: 26,308
- Albion Star Man: Matt Phillips
ALBION fell to defeat in their final home match of 2016 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's brace for Manchester United inflicted a 2-0 reverse.
The towering Swede got down low to head the visitors into an early lead after just five minutes and doubled the advantage, via a deflection off Craig Dawson, shortly before the hour mark.
Ben Foster pushed Wayne Rooney's strike on to the crossbar while Albion's best opening fell to Wednesday's hat-trick hero Salomon Rondon but he could not direct his header goalwards.
Defeat ended a run of three successive home victories for the in-form Baggies, who tasted only their second loss in seven games.
It leaves Tony Pulis' side seventh in the Premier League table on 23 points heading into festive trips away to Arsenal on Boxing Day and Southampton on New Year's Eve.
Albion got off to a nightmare start as they fell behind after just five minutes, Ibrahimovic heading home Jesse Lingard's right-wing cross from close range.
Jonas Olsson came close with a flicked header soon afterwards while Albion were indebted to Foster, who pushed Rooney's strike on to the crossbar.
Chris Brunt drilled a strike straight at David De Gea before Rondon, fresh from his three headers against Swansea in midweek, sent a good opening off target.
But it was United who should have doubled their advantage just before half-time as Lingard, with time and in space, blasted high over the crossbar from inside the penalty area.
However, Ibrahimovic did just that within 11 minutes of the restart as he skipped between two challenges in the area and saw his shot deflect via Dawson past Foster.
The hosts pushed in search of a route back into the encounter, James Morrison, Hal Robson-Kanu and Jonathan Leko introduced from the bench, but to no avail as United closed out the victory.
Albion: Foster; Dawson (Morrison 74), McAuley, Olsson, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher (c); Brunt, Chadli (Leko 82), Phillips (Robson-Kanu 81); Rondon.
Subs: Myhill; Gardner, McClean, Galloway.
BOOKED: Dawson (foul, 49), Rondon (unsporting behaviour, 65), Brunt (foul, 87)
Man Utd: De Gea, Valencia, Jones, Rojo, Darmian, Herrera (Smalling 90), Carrick, Pogba, Lingard (Rashford 77), Ibrahimovic, Rooney (c) (Fellaini 84).
Subs: Romero, Mata, Martial, Blind.
BOOKED: Ibrahimovic (foul, 24), Lingard (unsporting behaviour, 57), Rojo (unsporting behaviour, 65)
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire)