BPL G7:UNITED 1 STOKE 1

martial-06
Manchester United were denied a fourth straight win in all competitions on a frustrating afternoon at Old Trafford, as Stoke City struck late on to secure a point.

Anthony Martial, on as a second-half substitute, curled home beautifully from 12 yards for his first goal of the season to give the Reds the lead in the 69th minute. But, with eight minutes remaining, Joe Allen scored from
close range to earn Mark Hughes’ side their first-ever Premier League point at the Theatre of Dreams.

Paul Pogba rattled the crossbar late on but United missed the chance to move up to third in the table and will rue a host of missed opportunities in the first half, while Lee Grant produced a standout performance in the Stoke
goal.

Ahead of the game, Jose Mourinho named the same team that beat champions Leicester 4-1 last weekend, with four changes from Thursday’s Europa League win over Zorya Luhansk. As a mark of respect, players from
both teams wore black armbands to mark the passing of Reds legend David Herd, who represented both sides.

United began brightly and could have taken the lead inside the first minute when Pogba’s reverse pass released Zlatan Ibrahimovic in behind the Stoke defence, but the Swedish striker was denied by Grant, who reacted well
to keep out his second effort from a tight angle.

Stoke settled into the game and went close themselves on two occasions through Geoff Cameron, who tested David De Gea from 20 yards, before firing Allen’s cutback straight into the keeper’s hands.

Pogba, looking to add to his first Reds goal after finding the net last weekend, then missed two excellent chances to give United a deserved lead midway through the first period. Ibrahimovic combined well with Ander
Herrera before laying the ball off to the Frenchman, who slid his shot wide of the post before heading wide from Daley Blind’s corner when left unmarked eight yards out.

It was then Jesse Lingard’s turn to get a glimpse of goal from a dangerous near-post cross by Ibrahimovic, with Grant brilliantly clawing the forward’s instinctive shot behind for a corner. Juan Mata, who also scored against
Leicester, almost provided the decisive breakthrough with a delightful lobbed effort which Grant palmed over the crossbar.

Stoke came into the match as the half wore on but the Reds – and Pogba in particular – were left to reflect on several missed opportunities as the whistle blew.

HALF-TIME STATS
Possession: United 68% Stoke 32%
Shots at goal: United 11 Stoke 4
Shots on target: United 4 Stoke 3
Corners: United 4 Stoke 1

After the restart, the visitors were quick out of the blocks and De Gea had to be alert to tip over Bruno Martins Indi’s looping header from Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick, although the offside flag had been raised.

Former Liverpool midfielder Allen then managed to cut inside Chris Smalling from Marko Arnautovic’s flick inside the box but could only sidefoot tamely at De Gea. The electrifying pace of Rashford and Lingard in wide
areas caused problems for the Stoke defence all afternoon, with Grant required to race off his line to prevent Lingard from having a clear run at goal.

The former Sheffield Wednesday keeper was also called into action to keep out long-distance efforts from Mata and Pogba, who arguably enjoyed his most dominant display in a United shirt to date. Herrera then went
close with a fierce low drive from 25 yards from Lingard’s lay-off, which travelled inches wide of the post.

Mourinho looked to inject extra firepower midway through the second half as captain Wayne Rooney and Martial replaced Lingard and Mata. And, after Ibrahimovic’s low shot drifted inches past the post, Martial made an
instant impact with a sumptuous effort reminiscent of his goal-of-the-season contender against the Potters on their last visit back in February.

United suddenly came to life and Blind, who’s received plenty of praise for his recent form, almost found the net himself when meeting Rashford’s cutback from six yards, only for Martins Indi to throw himself in the way.

Ibrahimovic then became the latest player to be denied by Grant, who beat away the no.9’s half-volley after Martial’s delivery evaded the stretching Shawcross.

Just when United looked set for three points, Stoke levelled the scoring when Glen Johnson’s deflected shot was kept out by De Gea but substitute Jon Walters kept it alive and his shot looped up off Eric Bailly onto the
crossbar, allowing Allen a chance he couldn’t miss.

Ibrahimovic almost proved the hero again after Thursday’s Europa League winner, but his low shot was tipped wide by Grant before Pogba headed Rashford’s cross against the woodwork with two minutes to go, as the
Reds were left to settle for a frustrating draw.

FULL-TIME STATS
Possession: United 67% Stoke 33%
Shots at goal: United 24 Stoke 7
Shots on target: United 9 Stoke 6
Corners: United 13 Stoke 2

United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Smalling, Blind; Pogba, Herrera (Memphis 84); Lingard (Martial 67), Mata (Rooney 67), Rashford; Ibrahimovic.

Subs not used: Romero, Darmian, Carrick, Fellaini.

Booked: Valencia, Herrera, Ibrahimovic

Stoke City: Grant; Johnson, Shawcross, Martins Indi, Pieters; Cameron, Whelan, Allen; Shaqiri (Bardsley 88), Bony (Crouch 77), Arnautovic (Walters 77).

Subs not used: Given, Adam, Diouf, Bojan.

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