Manchester United survived a late scare to clinch an uninspiring victory at West Brom.
Romelu Lukaku’s 15th goal of the season and Jesse Lingard’s deflected effort sealed a 2-1 win at The Hawthorns.
They were made to sweat after Gareth Barry’s second-half strike but held on, and once again they sit 11 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City.
Albion at least scored their first goal under Alan Pardew but remain second bottom, now two points from safety after extending their winless league run to 16 games.
They lived dangerously during United’s bright start with former Hawthorns loanee Lukaku, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford lively but the visitors failed to find an early breakthrough.
But for all their possession United never worried Ben Foster and the Baggies remained comfortable as they sat deep.
There seemed little immediate threat but Lukaku, who scored a hat-trick for Albion against Manchester United in 2013, ended the monotony when he opened the scoring after 27 minutes.
Again it was pedestrian build-up but this time it had an end product as Rashford dug out a cross on the left for Lukaku to out-jump Kieran Gibbs and power in a header from 10 yards.
And it sparked a second as United doubled their lead eight minutes later.
Lukaku and Mata linked up to find Lingard and the England international’s shot from 18 yards was deflected over the helpless Foster by Ahmed Hegazi’s outstretched leg.
With that it was an uphill battle for Albion as they searched for a first win since August.
Jake Livermore at least forced David De Gea into a low save but, as an attacking force, the Baggies were anonymous.
The second half followed the same pattern until Rashford and Hegazi clashed, with the Egyptian defender appearing to push his head into Rashford’s.
Only the United striker was booked for the altercation but he did almost add a third goal after 56 minutes, arrowing a snapshot a yard wide.
It was a rare effort during a drab second half and Rondon summed up Albion’s efforts when he miscued an effort straight at De Gea with 17 minutes left.
But Albion did pull a goal back after 77 minutes when United failed to deal with Chris Brunt’s corner and Barry stabbed in from close range.
It was poor defending from United, who had earlier lost Antonio Valencia to injury, but they held on despite Albion’s late rally.
De Gea and Barry clashed after Barry caught the goalkeeper and Jay Rodriguez headed wide as Albion failed to find a leveller.