Month: April 2017

Manchester United 0 Manchester City 0

27/04/2017 21:50, Report by Gemma Thompson

Premier League | 27 April 2017 | Etihad Stadium | Attendance: 54,176

It was honours even in Thursday night’s Manchester derby as United held firm to claim a vital point against City at the Etihad Stadium, despite being reduced to 10 men late on.

The Blues dominated what was, at times, a fiery game and the Reds were forced to play the final 10 minutes of normal and added time after Marouane Fellaini was dismissed for a clash with Sergio Aguero.

The result leaves the Manchester rivals still well-placed in the race for a top-four finish, with both sides hot on the heels of Liverpool having played a game less than the Merseysiders.

Mourinho made four changes to the side which won so comfortably away at Burnley four days earlier with Antonio Valencia, Michael Carrick, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford coming in for Ashley Young, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney.

United were on the attack from the off with the front three of Mkhitaryan, Rashford and Anthony Martial interchanging nicely, but it was City who had the first clear-cut chance when Kevin De Bruyne got in down the right on nine minutes. His low cross found the menacing Sergio Aguero who struck the outside of the post with his shot.

At the other end, the pace of Rashford and Martial kept the City defenders on their toes and a cross from Martial on 25 minutes almost led to the opener for the Reds. Claudio Bravo could only palm the centre into the path of Mkhitaryan, but the City goalkeeper recovered to block the Armenian’s shot.

Despite Eric Bailly being in imperious form at the heart of United’s backline, David De Gea was the busier of the two keepers in the first period and he dealt well with long-range efforts from Aguero and Aleksandar Kolarov as half-time drew closer.

Arguably the best opportunity of the half fell to the lively Ander Herrera when he rose unmarked to meet a Rashford free-kick at the back post, but the Spaniard found the wrong side of the post with his header.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: City 63% United 37%
Shots: City 10 United 2
Shots on target: City 3 United 1
Corners: City 3 United 3

City were the brighter side after the break with Aguero and Sterling both having early sighters. The Blues’ possession count and shots from distance increased as the clock ticked towards the hour-mark, but the Reds held firm at the back.

A Nicolas Otamendi header from a corner deflected off Bailly and just over the bar as City continued to put United under pressure.

An injury to Bravo resulted in a change in goal for City as Willy Cabellero came on in the 79th minute. Jesus Navas also entered the fray and the Reds followed suit with a switch as Martial made way for Lingard.

There was another change to the on-pitch personnel five minutes from time, but it was of an unwanted kind for the Reds as Fellaini, a minute after being booked for a foul on Aguero, received his marching orders after squaring up to the same player.

Mkhitaryan was sacrificed from the attack as Mourinho’s men looked to shore up for a point by bringing on young defender Tim Fosu-Mensah. Six minutes of injury time followed as did a disallowed goal from Gabriel Jesus who headed home from an offside position much to United’s relief.

The draw leaves the two sides a point apart in the table – City in fourth place and United in fifth – after playing the same number of matches. Both have a game in hand on third-placed Liverpool who lie a point above the Blues. It remains all to play for in the race for a top-four spot in the Premier League.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession
: City 69% United 31%
Shots: City 19 United 3
Shots on target: City 6 United 1
Corners: City 7 United 4

TEAMS

Manchester City: Bravo (Caballero 79), Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Otamendi, Kolarov, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, Sterling (Jesus 86), De Bruyne, Sane (Navas 80), Aguero.

Subs not used: Sagna, Fernando, Clichy, A. Garcia.

Booked: Jesus

United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Blind, Darmian; Carrick (c), Fellaini, Herrera; Mkhitaryan (Fosu-Mensah 85), Rashford (Young 90+3), Martial (Lingard 80).

Subs not used: Romero, Shaw, Tuanzebe, Rooney.

Sent off: Fellaini

Manchester United 2 Burnley 0

23/04/2017 16:05, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 23 April 2017 | Turf Moor | Attendance: 21,870 | Scorers: Martial 21, Rooney 39

Manchester United comfortably defeated Burnley 2-0 at Turf Moor to close the gap on top-four rivals Manchester City to just one point with the derby up next for Jose Mourinho’s men. 

First-half goals from Anthony Martial and the returning Wayne Rooney bagged United the three points and intensified Thursday’s now crucial meeting of the local adversaries.

Jose Mourinho made eight changes to his United line-up that defeated Anderlecht in extra-time in midweek with captain Rooney starting a Premier League game for the first time since early March in place of the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Martial leading the line ahead of the rested Marcus Rashford.

United came into this game looking to gain revenge for the frustrating goalless draw at Old Trafford back in October which led Sean Dyche to declare United were “the best side we’ve played against this season.”

Burnley on the other hand boast the highest points tally by a promoted team since Charlton Athletic in 2000/01 and have the sixth best home record in the division, so the Reds knew it would be no mean feat to break down a stubborn Clarets defence.

United have the division’s best points per game average in away matches though and it took just eight minutes for the first glimpse at goal as Martial slid the ball back to Ander Herrera in the box and he found Rooney, but the United captain’s effort was blocked and saved by ex-Reds goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

A few minutes later, Marouane Fellaini climbed highest to head at Heaton following a corner, whilst at the other end Jeff Hendrick did well to evade United right-back Ashley Young, but his dangerous cross was blocked and Ben Mee headed the resulting corner onto the roof of the net.

United broke the deadlock on 21 minutes in clinical fashion and it was a move started and finished by Martial. The Frenchman won the ball in the Burnley half and in a matter of seconds it was in the Burnley net as a blistering counter-attack had the visitors’ no.11 driving forward and laying the ball off to Herrera, who then squared it back for the 21-year-old to slot past Heaton.

The game quietened down following the opener with the hosts having only the odd attacking surge led by the dangerous Andre Gray. United on the other hand were controlling the game and doubled the lead six minutes before the break.

Martial latched onto Paul Pogba’s pass down the left. His shot was blocked by Heaton, but the ball rebounded to Rooney who slotted it through Michael Keane’s legs and clearly over the goal-line without the need for technology to aid referee Anthony Taylor.

At the other end Gray had a deflected shot blocked in the box as the hosts looked to hit back instantly, but United defended well and deservedly led at the break.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: Burnley 46% United 54%
Shots at goal: Burnley 4 United 8
Shots on target: Burnley 0 United 5
Corners: Burnley 2 United 2

The second half started as the first one had ended, with United in control. The Reds, playing in white today, were well on top and Pogba tried his luck from 30 yards, which Heaton did well to save down low.

Martial was looking dangerous and was linking up well with Rooney. The latter was unlucky not to have a couple of clear-cut chances to double his tally for the afternoon.

First the ball ran away from him following a Martial pass when he would have been one-on-one with Heaton, before the second opening had the United skipper slipping at the vital moment when being played in by Jesse Lingard.

The hosts began to push for a route back into the game, but Daley Blind and Eric Bailly were looking solid for United at the back, resulting in Burnley failing to muster a shot on target all game.

Reds substitute Marcus Rashford darted through the Clarets defence after replacing Lingard and when Heaton hesitated, the young prodigy had the chance to score for the third consecutive Premier League game, but he fired wide from a narrow angle when the chip may have been the better option.

Pogba tried his luck from 25 yards late on with a shot which crept inches wide, but it didn’t matter as the Reds stretched the unbeaten run to 23 league games. Next up – a certain Manchester derby.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: Burnley 46% United 54%
Shots at goal: Burnley 7 United 12
Shots on target: Burnley 0 United 6
Corners: Burnley 3 United 3

THE TEAMS

Burnley: Heaton, Lowton, Keane, Mee (Tarkowski 45), Ward, Boyd (Gudmundsson 62), Barton, Hendrick, Brady, Gray, Barnes (Agyei 75). Subs not used: Pope, Flanagan, Westwood, Defour.

Booked: Lowton, Hendrick.

United: De Gea, Darmian, Bailly, Blind, Young, Herrera, Fellaini, Pogba (Carrick 88), Lingard (Rashford 69), Rooney, Martial (Mkhitaryan 78). Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Shaw.

Booked: Rooney.

Manchester United 2 Anderlecht 1

20/04/2017 22:32, Report by Mark Froggatt

Europa League | Old Trafford | Attendance: 71,496 | Scorers: Mkhitaryan 10, Hanni 32, Rashford 107 

It was tense and extra-time was required, but Manchester United are in the Europa League semi-finals after securing a 3-2 aggregate win over Anderlecht at Old Trafford.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan broke the deadlock and Sofiane Hanni equalised, leading to a later-than-expected finish on Thursday night, but the Reds eventually went through thanks to Marcus Rashford’s winner.

Two sour notes were the injuries sustained by Marcos Rojo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, yet qualification remains the most important thing and a place in Friday’s last-four draw in Nyon, Switzerland.

United began the night with an away-goals advantage following the 1-1 first-leg draw out in Belgium and, as such, Anderlecht had to score at least once at Old Trafford. The visitors showed their ambition in the opening three minutes, too, when Leander Dendoncker hit a powerful effort that flew over the bar.

Yet the Reds remained composed and took a nerve-easing lead in the 10th minute when Mkhitaryan drilled in from the edge of the area, notching his fifth Europa League goal of the season. The Armenian almost claimed an assist a moment later, when his corner led to Paul Pogba’s header being saved by the Anderlecht keeper Rubén Martínez, who later pulled off a wonder save to deny Jesse Lingard.

United’s good mood was tempered when Rojo was forced off on a stretcher after 23 minutes, which is a concern with his fellow centre-backs Chris Smalling and Phil Jones ruled out with injury until mid-May. Perhaps sensing a chance to capitalise on this blow, Anderlecht attacked and equalised in slightly fortuitous circumstances when Tielemans’ deflected shot cannoned off the bar into the path of Teodorczyk, whose scuffed effort then fell kindly for Hanni to rifle into the net.

STATS AT HALF-TIME
Possession: United 60% Anderlecht 40%
Total shots: United 8 Anderlecht 7
Shots on target: United 5 Anderlecht 3
Corners: United 4 Anderlecht 2

Anderlecht looked dangerous on the counter and Teodorczyk’s shot brought a good save out of Romero early in the second half, but it was United who had the best chance following the restart when the galloping Luke Shaw’s cross rolled agonisingly across the face of goal past Lingard. Marouane Fellaini was introduced to the sound of jeers from the away fans, who remembered his spell with rivals Standard Liege, and the Belgium almost upset them further by scoring as his header from a corner was saved.

Rashford fired wide after the hour and the 19-year-old had a better opportunity on 69 minutes when beating Dennis Appiah to Mkhitaryan’s punt and rounding the goalkeeper, although a heavy touch allowed the Anderlecht defender to execute a well-timed tackle while the goal was gaping. Ibrahimovic then saw a shot blocked before he was felled for what looked like a penalty, only for the referee to wave play on.

United dominated the second half as Pogba shot over and Ibrahimovic twice fired wide while the clock ticked on. Rashford even had the ball in the net, yet the linesman had his flag raised for offside – despite replays suggesting otherwise. Then, worryingly, Zlatan fell awkwardly in the 92nd minute and the towering Swede was duly substituted before the start of extra time, with Anthony Martial taking his place.

STATS AT FULL-TIME
Possession: United 61% Anderlecht 39%
Total shots: United 17 Anderlecht 12
Shots on target: United 7 Anderlecht 4
Corners: United 9 Anderlecht 5

United again went close at the start of extra time when Pogba’s overhead kick from Rashford’s Rabona was saved by Ruben. Later, on 100 minutes, the France international smashed into the net from several yards out, only to be frustrated when the referee halted play for a Fellaini foul in the build-up.

Just as a dreaded penalty shootout was appearing likely, the Reds scored a deserved winning goal from the left boot of Rashford – his 10th strike of the season. A third disallowed goal followed, this time from substitute Martial on 119 minutes, prior to the full-time whistle blowing on a dramatic quarter-final tie.

STATS AFTER EXTRA-TIME
Possession: United 60% Anderlecht 40%
Total shots: United 22 Anderlecht 18
Shots on target: United 10 Anderlecht 6
Corners: United 12 Anderlecht 6

THE TEAMS
United: Romero, Valencia, Bailly, Rojo (Blind 23’), Shaw, Carrick, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Lingard (Fellaini 60’), Rashford, Ibrahimovic (Martial 90’).
Subs not used: De Gea, Young, Herrera, Rooney.

Anderlecht: Ruben, Appiah, Mbodji, Spajic, Obradovic; Dendoncker, Tielemans, Hanni (Stanciu 63’), Acheampong, Teodorczyk (Kiese Thelin 79’), Chipciu (Bruno 63’).
Subs not used: Boeckx, Deschacht, Nuytinck, Capel.
Booked: Tielemans, Appiah

Manchester United 2 Chelsea 0

16/04/2017 18:00, Report by Adam Higgins

16 April 2017 | Premier League | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,272 | Scorers: Rashford 7, Herrera 49  

Goals from Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera gave Manchester United a deserved victory over Premier League leaders Chelsea at Old Trafford.

Rashford gave the Reds the perfect start with a composed finish inside seven minutes before Herrera’s deflected shot found the net early in the second half to secure a memorable win.

It was just rewards for an impressive display as United extended the unbeaten run in the league to 22 games since being beaten by the Blues in October to maintain the pursuit of a top-four finish.

For the visit of his former club, Jose Mourinho made four changes from Thursday’s Europa League draw against Anderlecht in Belgium as David De Gea returned in goal and Ashley Young came in to captain the side, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic named on the bench.

A wet and miserable Easter Sunday afternoon didn’t dampen the atmosphere inside the Theatre of Dreams, which was typically electric as the Reds settled well and created the first opening in the fifth minute.

Jesse Lingard harried David Luiz into a mistake and Rashford seized on to the loose ball to bear down on goal, only to scuff his shot wide of the post, but it gave the vociferous United fans plenty of early encouragement.

And, moments later, the young striker came up with the goods to break the deadlock, timing his run to perfection from a pinpoint through ball by Herrera to calmly slot past Chelsea’s replacement goalkeeper Asmir Begovic and send Old Trafford into pandemonium.

The Reds continued to press high up the pitch to unsettle the Blues, with Lingard and Rashford in particular giving Chelsea’s back three a torrid time with their tireless work ethic, while at the back, Eric Bailly proved he was up to the task in shackling the visitors’ leading marksman Diego Costa and Herrera did a sterling job in keeping PFA Player of the Year nominee Eden Hazard quiet.

As the sun broke out over the Theatre of Dreams midway through the first half, United’s bright start showed no signs of fading as the impressive Rashford harried Victor Moses off the ball and delivered a dangerous cross, which Begovic palmed away before anyone wearing red was able to pounce.

Young then dragged a low shot wide from the edge of the box after excellent work from Rashford and Paul Pogba in the build-up down the right flank, before another teasing cross by Rashford was almost headed into the back of his own net by Chelsea captain Gary Cahill, with the ball looping agonisingly on to the roof of the net.

The Reds created another opportunity to increase the lead just before the break when Rashford’s cross was cleared as far as Young, who fired waywardly over the crossbar at the end of a positive first half for United.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: United 59% Chelsea 41%
Shots: United 4 Chelsea 1
Shots on target: United 1 Chelsea 0
Corners: United 1 Chelsea 0

It got better for the Reds just four minutes into the second half, when Young did well to drive into the box after his initial cross was cleared by Luiz before laying the ball off to Herrera, whose low shot deflected off the boot of Kurt Zouma and wrongfooted Begovic to double the lead.

Brimming with confidence, United continued to push forward as Lingard curled a shot over the crossbar from the edge of the box from Rashford’s cutback, before the lively Rashford rifled an effort from the corner of the box into the side-netting and later cut in from the left to test Begovic at his near post from 12 yards.

On the hour mark, Michael Carrick entered the action for his 450th United appearance in all competitions, in place of Lingard, as the Reds, backed by vocal support from the terraces, showed excellent discipline and concentration to keep the Blues at arm’s length.

Chances were few and far between in the second half for both sides but Antonio Conte’s side, who had only previously lost four league games this season, rarely threatened throughout against the solid Reds defence, with De Gea largely untroubled on his return to the team.

In truth, United easily saw out a first win over Chelsea since 2012 to make it a memorable Easter and provide the perfect warm-up for another crucial encounter at Old Trafford next week, against Anderlecht in the second leg of the Europa League quarter-final.

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession:
United 46% Chelsea 54%
Shots: United 9 Chelsea 5
Shots on target: United 3 Chelsea 0
Corners: United 1 Chelsea 3

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Darmian; Fellaini, Herrera; Young (c) (Fosu-Mensah 90+3), Pogba, Lingard (Carrick 60); Rashford (Ibrahimovic 82).

Subs not used: Romero, Blind, Shaw, Mkhitaryan.

Booked: Herrera, Rojo, Ibrahimovic.

Chelsea: Begovic; Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Cahill (c); Moses (Fabregas 54), Kante, Matic (Willian 66), Zouma (Loftus-Cheek 83); Pedro, Diego Costa, Hazard.

Subs not used: Eduardo, Ake, Terry, Batshuayi.

Booked: Diego Costa, Cahill, Fabregas.

Manchester United 3 Sunderland 0

09/04/2017 15:44, Report by Adam Higgins

Goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marcus Rashford ensured Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a convincing victory over 10-man Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Ibrahimovic fired the Reds ahead with a stunning 20-yard strike on 30 minutes before his Swedish compatriot, Sunderland midfielder Sebastian Larsson, saw red for a high challenge on Ander Herrera shortly before the half-time break.

Mkhitaryan doubled the lead within a minute of the restart, drilling home a brilliant shot for his eighth goal for the club. Second-half substitute Rashford then rounded off a comfortable win late on, as the Reds moved up to fifth in the table after extending the unbeaten run in the league to 21 games.

Jose Mourinho made five changes to the starting XI from Tuesday’s 1-1 draw against Everton, with Marouane Fellaini captaining the side from the start for the first time, while a “small problem” meant David De Gea’s impressive run of 63 successive league starts in goal came to an end.

United made a positive start on a gloriously-sunny afternoon on Wearside as Jesse Lingard, fresh from signing a new four-year contract in midweek, took aim from 20 yards with a fierce right-footed effort which was kept out by Sunderland keeper Jordan Pickford. After Marcos Rojo was fouled by Larsson from the same distance, Ibrahimovic’s free-kick could not get past Sunderland’s solid defensive wall.

Sunderland grew into the game and began to pose a threat themselves as Sergio Romero was brought into action for the first time, keeping out a fierce effort from Sunderland captain Lee Cattermole before Jermain Defoe fired wide from an offside position when latching onto a Jack Rodwell pass.

After a driving run, Lingard went close with a low shot from the edge of the box that Pickford did well to push behind for a corner. But, after 30 minutes, United made the breakthrough in fine style from Ibrahimovic as the striker collected a Herrera pass, rolled Billy Jones, cut inside and smashed a low shot into the corner of the net. It is his 28th goal of a prolific debut season in English football.

United were then indebted to a fine piece of goalkeeping from Romero, making his 12th appearance of the season, as the Argentine stopper made an excellent block to deny Victor Anichebe from close range.

Sunderland had a terrible time just before half-time when they lost full-back Bryan Oviedo to a leg injury, before Larsson was then given his marching orders by referee Craig Pawson for a studs-up challenge on Herrera.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: Sunderland 29% United 71%
Shots: Sunderland 4 United 10
Shots on target: Sunderland 3 United 5
Corners: Sunderland 2 United 4

The Reds were quickly celebrating the all-important second goal within 46 seconds of the restart, as Mkhitaryan drifted into the box and arrowed home an exquisite shot which went through the legs of Lamine Kone into the bottom corner. It was another fine goal against the Black Cats for the Armenian, who scored a memorable ‘scorpion kick’ at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Relegation-threatened Sunderland, without former John O’Shea and on-loan United winger Adnan Januzaj, struggled to contend with the Reds’ dominance thereafter.

Ibrahimovic’s low shot through a crowded penalty area was kept out by the legs of Pickford, before Herrera rifled the follow-up over the crossbar. Pogba then almost marked his 50th appearance for the club in style as his sweetly-struck volley from inside the box flew over.

Mourinho turned to the bench for the first time on the hour mark as Shaw, making only his third start since the end of October, was replaced by Daley Blind after feeling the effects of a tangle with Didier Ndong.

Defoe looked to end Sunderland’s six-game run without scoring, but his free-kick from 20 yards was easily collected by Romero before the striker unleashed a 20-yard shot which was off target.

Not settling for a two-goal cushion, United went in search of inflicting more damage on the Premier League’s bottom club and almost finished off a dangerous counter attack involving Rashford and Mkhitaryan, but Ibrahimovic was challenged in the box by Billy Jones before he could get a shot away.

As Anthony Martial replaced Mkhitaryan in the closing stages, the Reds continued to pour forward and the Frenchman almost made an immediate impact when latching on to Blind’s pass, but his side-footed lob landed straight into the grateful gloves of Pickford. United eventually added further gloss a minute from time when Rashford linked up with Ibrahimovic and fired a sublime strike into the bottom corner.

With a firm measure of control throughout, the Reds cruised to a first win on Wearside in four years – the ideal preparation for Thursday’s crucial Europa League quarter-final tie against Belgian side Anderlecht.

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: Sunderland 30% United 70%
Shots: Sunderland 9 United 18
Shots on target: Sunderland 4 United 9
Corners: Sunderland 4 United 5

THE TEAMS:

Sunderland: Pickford; Jones, Denayer, Kone, Oviedo (Manquillo 39); Larsson, Rodwell, Cattermole (c) (Borini 66), Ndong; Anichebe, Defoe.
Subs not used: Mannone, Djilobodji, Pienaar, Gibson, Khazri.
Booked: Ndong
Sent-off: Larsson

United: Romero; Darmian, Bailly, Rojo, Shaw (Blind 61); Fellaini (c), Herrera; Lingard (Rashford 64), Pogba, Mkhitaryan (Martial 78); Ibrahimovic.
Subs not used: J. Pereira, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Carrick.
Booked: Shaw, Fellaini, Lingard, Martial, Darmian

Manchester United 1 Everton 1

04/04/2017 22:00, Report by Adam Higgins

Premier League | 4 April 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,272 | Scorers: Ibrahimovic 90+4 pen; Jagielka 21 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last-gasp penalty salvaged a point for Manchester United as the Reds were held to a 1-1 draw by Everton at Old Trafford.

The striker, on his return from suspension, converted the spot-kick in the 94th minute after the visitors’ centre-back Ashley Williams was sent off for handball. His dramatic equaliser rescued the Reds after Phil Jagielka had hooked home to give the Toffees the lead in the first half.

After this second successive draw in the space of four days at home, Jose Mourinho’s men are now unbeaten in 20 Premier League games – a run which also saw the same scoreline when the sides met at Goodison Park in December.

Insisting he will continue to field his strongest available team whilst a top-four place is still achievable, Mourinho stayed true to his word by making only three changes from Saturday’s stalemate against West Brom as Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera returned from domestic bans and Daley Blind came in at left-back, with March’s Player of the Month, Antonio Valencia, rested.

As the Reds made an encouraging start, Ibrahimovic almost announced his return with an early goal in the fifth minute but the no.9 was denied by a fine defensive block by Williams after finding a way through the middle.

Jesse Lingard, who won United’s Goal of the Month for March with a 25-yard screamer against Middlesbrough, almost matched that award-winning effort with a sizzling strike from a similar distance which flew past the post.

Marcus Rashford then burst through onto a fine Ibrahimovic pass and fired wide of the post but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.

At the other end, Everton had barely threatened until an effort by Kevin Mirallas was kept out by the legs of David De Gea. But from the resulting corner, the Toffees took the lead against the run of play when captain Jagielka latched onto a Williams header and flicked the ball past De Gea with the back of his boot.

Brimming with confidence after breaking the deadlock, the visitors went close again soon after as Romelu Lukaku, the Premier League’s leading scorer with 21 goals this season, checked inside and fired a low shot wide from the edge of the box.

The Reds responded to the setback and almost found a leveller when Blind’s free-kick 20 yards out was clawed out superbly by Joel Robles in the Toffees goal before Herrera hit the crossbar with the follow-up from a tight angle.

Urged by the home crowd to let fly, the impressive Herrera tried his luck with a stinging 25-yard shot which was tipped around the post athletically by Robles before Ashley Young’s low cross was inches away from finding Rashford, as Mason Holgate applied a vital touch to clear at the back post.

With half-time approaching, the lively Rashford again got himself into an advanced position inside the box but was thwarted by a good tackle from goalscorer Jagielka as the Reds went in trailing at the break.

HALF-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: United 59% Everton 41%
Shots: United 6 Everton 6
Shots on target: United 2 Everton 2
Corners: United 3 Everton 2

Hoping to inject more urgency into proceedings, Mourinho introduced Paul Pogba, who had missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, in place of Blind at the interval.

United increased the tempo in a bid to stretch the Toffees defence and the recently arrived Frenchman almost drew the Reds level on 54 minutes. After Rashford was upended by Gareth Barry, Young’s free-kick was inadvertently glanced on by Lukaku and Pogba’s header rebounded back off the crossbar.

Meanwhile, Everton, who had lost just once in their previous 12 matches before Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Merseyside rivals Liverpool, continued to pose a threat as Barry headed a Mirallas corner straight at De Gea from close range.

The Reds made a double change on 65 minutes as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw entered the fray, in place of Carrick and Young.

Sensing an equaliser, the home fans roared on the players as Fellaini, up against his former club, prodded wide of the post after turning away from Williams in the box but it was proving to be a difficult task to break down a stubborn Everton rearguard.

Ibrahimovic thought he had rescued the Reds when heading in a Herrera cross before his celebrations were cut short by the flag of assistant referee Scott Ledger for offside.

There were further glimpses of goal for Fellaini, who fired over on his right foot inside the box, and Marcos Rojo, who guided a header over from a Pogba free-kick.

But Everton were always dangerous on the counter and it needed a brilliant last-ditch intervention from Eric Bailly to block an attempted shot from Lukaku after the striker showed good acceleration to run the entire length of the United half.

The Reds piled on the pressure in the closing stages as Lingard saw a shot deflected behind by Barry and Ibrahimovic headed over Rashford’s cross, albeit from an offside position.

But there was to be a dramatic finale as, in the third minute of stoppage time, Shaw’s goalbound effort was handled on the stretch by Williams, who was shown a red card by referee Neil Swarbrick, and Ibrahimovic kept his composure to slot home his 27th goal of the season and rescue a point for United.

The busy April schedule continues for Mourinho’s men in the Premier League on Sunday with the third of nine games this month against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light (kick-off 13:30 BST).

FULL-TIME MATCH STATS
Possession: United 62% Everton 38%
Shots: United 18 Everton 11
Shots on target: United 3 Everton 4
Corners: United 6 Everton 5

THE TEAMS:

United: De Gea; Young (Shaw 65), Bailly, Rojo, Blind (Pogba 46); Carrick (c) (Mkhitaryan 65), Fellaini; Lingard, Herrera, Rashford; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Fosu-Mensah, Darmian, Martial.

Booked: Young

Everton: Robles; Holgate, A.Williams, Jagielka (c), Baines; Davies, Barry, Gueye; Mirallas (Pennington 66), Lukaku, Barkley (Calvert-Lewin 80).

Subs not used: Stekelenburg (GK), Kenny, J.Williams, Valencia, Lookman.

Booked: Gueye, Barry, Davies

Sent-off: Williams

Manchester United 0 West Brom 0

01/04/2017 15:59, Report by Jamie Allen

Premier League | 1 April 2017 | Old Trafford | Attendance: 75,397 

Manchester United’s pursuit for a top-four place faltered after a stubborn West Brom side frustrated the Reds in a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

Despite having over 70 per cent of the possession, the hosts failed to break down a well-organised Baggies defence, with ex-Reds Ben Foster and Jonny Evans performing well. Another United old boy, Darren Fletcher, actually came closest to scoring when David De Gea palmed a speculative shot onto the bar.

Boss Jose Mourinho was forced to make three changes to his United starting XI after the injuries to Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and the further blow that Juan Mata required surgery on a groin injury, meaning Marcos Rojo, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial all came in. In the first of nine games this month, Mourinho’s men knew there was no time for ‘fooling’ around on April Fools’ day as United looked to keep the pressure on towards the top and it was the Reds who had virtually all of the ball in the early stages, but with no real cutting edge to the play.

The first effort at goal came from Jesse Lingard on 10 minutes as the ball rebounded to him after good work from Martial, but the man who scored a wonder-goal against Middlesbrough could not repeat the feat, firing over from 25 yards. It took 15 further minutes for a slight glimpse at goal as captain for the day, Michael Carrick, fed Lingard but his dangerous ball across the area evaded everyone.

Martial then headed inches wide at the back post following an Antonio Valencia cross as United looked to unlock a stubborn, yet well-organised Tony Pulis side. West Brom who beat Arsenal last time out, frustrated United in the first period, camped with 11 players behind the ball and offered virtually nothing in attack. The second half could only get better.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 75% West Brom 25%
Shots at goal: United 9 West Brom 1
Shots on target: United 0 West Brom 0
Corners: United 1 West Brom 1

United came out of the blocks with a sense of urgency in the second period, obviously under the strict instructions from Mourinho to penetrate the Baggies’ defence at any given opportunity and Martial so nearly did that, only for Craig Dawson to intercept at the vital moment.

Valencia then reached the by-line, cut the ball back for Marcus Rashford whose shot was blocked as was Carrick’s follow-up. At the other end, the visitors so nearly took a shock lead, but Fletcher had his shot well blocked by Eric Bailly.

United should have taken the lead on 54 minutes as Mkhitaryan’s shot was blocked and the rebound fell to Marouane Fellaini, but he curled his effort wide from 15 yards. Moments later, Martial tried his luck from 30 yards, but the ball fizzed narrowly wide of Foster’s far post as the Old Trafford faithful rallied the hosts.

Mkhitaryan then had a chance to finally break the deadlock after the ball fell kindly to him in the box, but Foster got a hand to his delicate chip and the ball was cleared away.

The game was crying out for a piece of magic from a Reds player and Rashford so nearly supplied it on 71 minutes as a rasping effort from 35 yards, headed for the top corner, only for Foster to fling himself to his left and palm away.

Wayne Rooney was introduced on 74 minutes to a rapturous reception as he tried to fire United into life, but it was the visitors who were close to shocking Old Trafford as De Gea so nearly palmed Fletcher’s shot into his own net – fortunately the ball bounced onto the crossbar and back into his hands.

Rashford then tried his luck from a 35-yard free kick late on, which Foster did well to tip wide, but West Brom held on for a deserved point as the Reds dropped more vital points at Old Trafford.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 75% West Brom 25%
Shots at goal: United 18 West Brom 3
Shots on target: United 3 West Brom 1
Corners: United 6 West Brom 1

THE TEAMS

United: De Gea, Valencia, Bailly, Rojo, Young, Carrick, Fellaini, Mkhitaryan (Rooney 74), Lingard, Martial, Rashford.

Subs not used:
Romero, Blind, Darmian, Fosu-Mensah, Tuanzebe, Willock.

Booked: Rojo, Fellaini, Rooney.

West Brom: Foster, Dawson, McAuley, Evans, Nyom, Livermore, Fletcher, Brunt, Chadli (Yacob 67), McClean (Morrison 57), Robson-Kanu (Rondon 70).

Subs not used:
Myhill, M. Wilson, Field, Harper.

Booked: Nyom, Livermore.