MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 30 – Manchester United ended 2017 with a limp after being held to a goalless draw by a resolute Southampton at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Jose Mourinho’s side were far from their best as sections of the home support voiced their displeasure at both the half-time and full-time whistle following a third successive draw.
They had good shouts for a penalty turned down in the first half and had a late goal correctly ruled out for offside, as the Saints came away with a hard-fought point in their final game of the year.
There were early chances at both ends although the hosts endured a frustrating first half after creating a few good openings without success.
Romelu Lukaku missed the target in the fourth minute with a header from seven yards out after being picked out by Juan Mata’s cross from the right.
James Ward-Prowse went close at the other end three minutes later as he forced David De Gea into a sharp one-handed save with a shot from 14 yards out, before Lukaku was substituted on 14 minutes following a clash of heads.
Ward-Prowse attempted to catch out De Gea four minutes later from a free-kick on the left that the Spanish keeper parried away at his near post, while Wesley Hoedt should have hit the target midway through the first half when he rose highest at a corner to steer a glancing header across the face of goal.
Mata tested Alex McCarthy with a low shot to his left after latching onto a loose ball just inside the area, and United had strong appeals for a penalty waved away when Maya Yoshida handled Jesse Lingard’s flick in the box.
After Nemanja Matic cleared the crossbar from distance in the 38th minute, Lingard missed the best chance of the first half as he glanced a header wide of the right post from just seven yards out after getting on the end of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross from the left on 44 minutes.
Matic did manage to hit the target in first-half stoppage time, although his strike from 22 yards out was straight at McCarthy.
The Saints made a bright start to the second half and Shane Long produced a fine reaction save out of De Gea five minutes in after connecting with Ward-Prowse’s low cross from the right, with the keeper turning his first-time shot behind with a foot.
Mkhitaryan threatened seven minutes later as he cut inside from the left and produced a routine save out of McCarthy from just outside the area.
The Armenian was soon replaced by Anthony Martial, whose first contribution was to win a free-kick 20 yards out that Ashley Young curled wide of the left post off the wall.
Dusan Tadic had a sniff at goal on 71 minutes as he got on the end of Sofiane Boufal’s clipped cross from the right, but he couldn’t keep his header down.
The Croatian had an even better chance five minutes later when he side-footed well wide of the left post after being teed up by Shane lOng on the edge of the area.
United had the ball in the back of the net nine minutes from time when a corner dropped at the feet of Matic, whose shot on the turn was prodded over the line by Pogba, but the Frenchman was flagged for offside when he could have let the ball go in.
Sam McQueen failed to trouble De Gea three minutes later with a shot from an acute angle from the left that went well wide of the far post.