WEST BROMWICH: Manchester United’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani vies for the ball with West Bromwich Albion’s English defender Kyle Bartley (left) at The Hawthorns stadium yesterday. – AFP

LONDON: Manchester United’s faltering Premier League title challenge suffered another blow in a 1-1 draw at struggling West Brom as Wolves eased fears they could be drawn into a relegation scrap with a 2-1 win at Southampton yesterday. United have dropped points in five of their last seven league games to allow Manchester City to pull seven points clear, with a game in hand.

A point was enough to nudge Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men back above Leicester into second on goal difference. But that was of little consolation to the Red Devils against a West Brom side that had conceded 24 goals in taking just one point from their previous seven home games. Indeed, it was Sam Allardyce’s men who had the better chances to win the game and give their dwindling hopes of beating the drop a boost.

United made the worst possible start when Conor Gallagher swung in a cross and Mbaye Diagne outmuscled Victor Lindelof to power home a header after just 80 seconds. “We gave ourselves a tough start,” said Solskjaer, whose side have fallen behind in eight of their 12 away league games this season. “You’ve got 90 odd minutes to make amends so there is no need to panic but I didn’t feel we built that momentum until too late in the first-half. “Second-half there was only one-way traffic but still there were a couple of moments where we could have lost the game.”

The visitors struggled to make the most of their dominance of the ball until Bruno Fernandes produced a moment of magic with a dipping volley on his weaker left foot a minute before half-time. Sam Johnstone denied Mason Greenwood and Scott McTominay had an effort cleared off the line as United pressed for a winner after the break.

But it was Diagne who twice should have won the game late on as he was denied when one-on-one with David de Gea before blazing an enticing low cross over the bar. Johnstone was required once more deep into stoppage time when he tipped Harry Maguire’s header onto the post. The draw only took the Baggies to within 12 points of safety as they remained second bottom.

Wolves moved 15 points clear of the drop zone after coming from behind to continue Southampton’s miserable run. The Saints had beaten Nuno Espirito Santo’s men to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek and made a promising start when Danny Ings converted Stuart Armstrong’s cross. Scoring goals has been a problem for Wolves without the injured Raul Jimenez, but they were gifted an equalizer from the penalty spot when Ryan Bertrand was penalized for handball.

Ruben Neves stroked home the spot-kick before Pedro Neto’s strike 25 minutes from time earned just a second win in 11 league games. Southampton, who topped the table earlier in the season, have lost six league games in a row to slip to 13th. – AFP