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Goalless draw enough for United to cement second

Pin Adrian was able to keep the vistors at bay. AFP
Adrian was able to keep the vistors at bay. AFP

Goalless draw enough for United to cement second

On Thursday, Manchester United travelled to the London Stadium to face West Ham. Billed as a game with very little at stake, it certainly lived up to it’s drab expectations.

Before the tie, Jose Mourinho named a United starting XI with eight changes to the side that suffered an embarrassing loss to Brighton at the weekend. The most interesting of Jose’s tinkering being Luke Shaw’s return to action after being frozen out.

Chris Smalling almost gifted the opener to the hosts on the 12 minute mark when he hacked at his clearance and sliced the ball onto Marko Arnautovic’s head. Caught by surprise, the Austrian couldn’t react quick enough and directed his header wide.

After a few early popshots and half-chances, Shaw then stung the West Ham woodwork with a fierce strike. Quick to follow up Alexis Sanchez’s effort, the left-back blitzed in front of his marker to unleash his shot but was left stunned as Adrian’s outstretched foot tipped the ball onto the post.

Later in the first half, Arnautovic wriggled away from Phil Jones and laid the ball to strike-partner Joao Mario to prod home but the Portuguese forward could only manage to poke the ball wide of the target.

Despite a few tense moments, there was nothing clear-cut in the opening 45 minutes and both sides trudged down the tunnel at half-time

To no-one’s surprise, the second half brought more of the same. Forced to shoot from distance, Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba failed to trouble Adrian between the sticks after the break.

Arnautovic almost scored the goal of the season with ten minutes to go. The Hammers No. 7 saw his name in lights as the ball dropped over his right shoulder in the box. However, instead of bursting the net as he had envisaged in his mind, he shanked his volley into the stands behind the goal.

Fans were treated to a touch of drama and excitement at the death when captain Mark Noble bravely squared up to Pogba after suffering a cynical clip round the ankle. A mini-brawl broke out, Noble clasped onto the Frenchman’s chops and the referee sent them both on their way with a booking.  

The most eye-catching thing about this uninspiring stalemate was David Moyes’ delightful claret cardie on the touchline. Nevertheless, a goalless draw was enough for Mourinho’s Red Devils to cement their place as this season’s runners up. United can now set their sights on their FA Cup final with Chelsea which takes place in just over a week’s time.


Thomas Davidson

Thomas Davidson

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