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Sigurdsson dents United Champions League ambitions

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Swansea City’s Gylfi Sigurdsson (R) scores from a free kick to equalise 1-1 against Manchester United at Old Trafford on April 30, 2017 © AFP / Oli SCARFF

LONDON, United Kingdom, Apr 30A sublime free-kick by Icelandic international Gylfi Sigurdsson gained Premier League strugglers Swansea a deserved point in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday, dealing a blow to the latter’s Champions League hopes.

Sigurdsson’s 10th goal of the season but first in 11 matches cancelled out veteran Wayne Rooney’s contentious penalty in time added on in the first-half when Marcus Rashford made the most out of minimal contact with ‘Swans’ goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski.

The point saw United move level on points with city rivals Manchester City but remained fifth, a place outside the automatic spots for the Champions League, because of a poorer goal difference.

It will be of little consolation to manager Jose Mourinho that it extended their unbeaten run to 25 and have not been defeated at Old Trafford since September 10th last year.

City could open up a three point gap later on Sunday as they take on second from bottom Middlesbrough whilst Arsenal too could gain ground on United if they beat title-chasing Tottenham.

Spurs, though, will be aiming to keep the pressure on table-toppers Chelsea, who have a tricky match at Everton, who are on a streak of eight successive home wins.

Mourinho saw two more defenders depart injured in the impressive Eric Bailly on the hour mark and Luke Shaw, whom the Portuguese has harangued all season, in just the eighth minute.

“We lost players and we lost points, so yes today was a bad day,” Mourinho told the BBC.

“We did not look tired and exhausted, we are tired and exhausted. You cannot isolate the performance out of the context. This is the ninth match of April, it is not human.

“We have a squad of 22 that is reduced to 13 or 14 players. The players are very tired.

“I am more than happy with the players, they gave everything they could. I have zero criticism.

“I don’t know about the injuries. I think Luke Shaw’s must be a big injury, because to leave the pitch after 10 minutes I am expecting a very big injury.

“At the moment, we cannot walk from the bed to the loo and break a leg.”

His Swansea counterpart Paul Clement said Rashford had ‘deceived the referee’ but added the point enforced their belief they could retain their elite status — they are two points adrift of fourth from bottom Hull with three matches remaining.

“That is arguably a clean sheet today and we go into the next game against Everton fully believing that we can stay in this league for next season,” said Clement.

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