Manchester United withstood late pressure from West Brom to seal a 2-1 victory after first-half goals from Romelu Lukaku and Jesse Lingard.
Lukaku’s superb header against his former employers sent United on their way before a deflected Lingard strike put them in control before half-time.
Gareth Barry tapped in West Brom’s first goal in more than six hours of football to ensure a frantic finish at the Hawthorns, but United clung on for a sixth league win in seven games.
United ultimately close the gap on leaders Manchester City back to 11 points, while Alan Pardew’s search for a first victory as West Brom boss goes on, with the club now winless in 15 Premier League games.
After a slow start, United took the lead with the first attempt on target as Lukaku found the top corner with a brilliant glancing header from Marcus Rashford’s cross, though it was met with muted celebrations once more from the Belgian after his second goal in as many games.
It got better for United eight minutes later courtesy of Lingard’s seventh goal of the season after his effort deflected off Ahmed Hegazi and beyond Ben Foster, who had looked set to make a routine save.
The home side improved after the break and substitute Barry forced David de Gea to make a comfortable save before Marcus Rashford’s first-time strike whistled past the far post down the other end.
Lingard almost had his second just before the hour-mark, but the 25-year-old shot straight at Foster after a swift counter-attack from the visitors.
And as United started to sit back, West Brom handed themselves a lifeline in the 77th minute, with Barry poking home the first goal of the Pardew era after a scrappy passage of play from a corner.
West Brom continued to push for an equaliser, but Jay Rodriguez could only head wide before De Gea eventually gathered the ball after another corner caused mayhem in the United defence.
Matic was United’s standout performer in an otherwise uninspiring display from the visitors. The Serbian made vital interceptions to prevent West Brom, while he also carried the ball forward with intent on numerous occasions.
His ability to break beyond West Brom’s midfield paid dividends for both of United’s goals, while 105 touches in total – 32 more than any other player on the pitch (Ander Herrera, 73) – highlighted how integral he was to United’s hard-fought victory.