LONDON, October 16 – Manchester United squandered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with West Bromwich Albion as Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to leave Wayne Rooney on the bench backfired Saturday.United looked to be cruising to victory after goals from Mexican international Javier Hernandez and Nani fired the Red Devils into a 2-0 lead after 25 minutes at Old Trafford.
But West Bromwich Albion pulled a goal back on 50 minutes when Patrice Evra deflected a Chris Brunt free-kick into his own goal, before an Edwin Van der Sar howler five minutes later gifted Somen Tchoyi an equaliser.
It was the third time this season United failed to take all three points after leading — and Ferguson admitted his team needed to rediscover their killer instinct after an "unacceptable" loss of two points.
"We created some really glorious chances in the first half to kill the game off," Ferguson told Sky Sports.
"It’s frustrating because it turned a really top performance into one where we’ve dropped two points. It’s not acceptable for anyone — the supporters, myself, the players.
"We really need to dig a little bit deeper when we get chances to kill teams off."
Ferguson meanwhile refused to point the finger at Van der Sar after the veteran Dutch keeper’s blunder.
"You’ve just got to forgive him that," Ferguson said. "I said to him probably the last time he made a mistake like that was at primary school. It’s just inexplicable."
Ferguson did not comment about the other major talking point of the day — his decision to bench Rooney.
The move came amid heightened speculation of tension between Ferguson and Rooney, who last week openly contradicted the United boss’s claims he was injured by defiantly stating he was fully fit.
The draw means Chelsea can open up a seven-point lead over Manchester United later Saturday if they defeat Aston Villa in the late game.
Elsewhere, Arsenal recovered from an early goal to reignite their league campaign with a 2-1 victory over Birmingham at the Emirates.
Nikola Zigic had fired Birmingham into a 33rd minute lead before Samir Nasri levelled from the penalty spot four minutes before half-time.
Marouane Chamakh then steered home a close range effort two minutes after the restart to put the Gunners ahead. Arsenal prodigy Jack Wilshere was sent off shortly before full-time for an ugly lunge on Zigic.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger admitted Wilshere deserved to see red for a challenge which will earn him a three-match ban.
"He mistimed his tackle and got a red card, which he deserved," Wenger said.
"Jack has acknowledged he deserved it, but he did not spend his whole game trying to kick people, he was one of the best players on the pitch today.
"It was more of frustration and did not want to hurt the player, but we do not complain about the red card."
The win moved Arsenal up to second with 14 points, ahead of Manchester United, Manchester City and Spurs on goal difference.
Tottenham also came from behind to defeat Fulham 2-1 at Craven Cottage in controversial circumstances, with referee Mike Dean over-ruling his linesman to allow Tom Huddlestone’s 63rd minute winner.
A sublime piece of skill from in-form Rafael Van der Vaart earlier set up Roman Pavlyuchenko’s equaliser after Diomansy Kamara’s 30th minute opener.
Newcastle meanwhile needed an injury-time goal from Fabricio Coloccini to snatch a 2-2 draw with Wigan at St James Park after two goals from Charles N’Zogbia had given the Latics a 2-0 lead.
Shola Ameobi’s 72nd-minute effort had launched the fightback.
In the battle of the basement clubs, Wolves and West Ham fought out a 1-1 draw. Mark Noble grabbed a share of the points for the Hammers, thundering in a 53rd-minute penalty after a blunder by Robert Green had gifted Matthew Jarvis a 10th-minute opener for Wolves.
At the Reebok Stadium, Stoke midfielder Rory Delap scored from close range to force a 1-1 draw with Bolton after Lee Chung-Yong put Wanderers ahead on 22 minutes.