Manchester United 0-0 West Brom: Baggies dent United's top-four charge
By Lewis Jones
Last Updated: 01/04/17 10:31pm
Manchester United drew for the eighth time at Old Trafford this season as West Brom held them to a 0-0 draw on Saturday.
The result does stretch United's unbeaten run to 19 games in the Premier League but they are now four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City.
Jose Mourinho's men struggled to find any tempo in their attacking play but Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster did produce a stunning late stop to deny Marcus Rashford's fabulous free-kick. However, Darren Fletcher nearly won it for the visitors after David de Gea spilled an effort onto the crossbar.
Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all were missing for Mourinho through injury, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera were serving suspensions.
The United boss made three changes from the team that beat Middlesbrough 3-1 with Marcus Rojo, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial returning.
Despite the lengthy absentee list, there was still no place for Wayne Rooney, who was on the bench, with Marcus Rashford preferred up top.
Hal Robson Kanu, who scored in West Brom's 3-1 win over Arsenal, replaced Salomon Rondon in the only change from the side that beat the Gunners.
The Baggies had not kept a clean sheet in their last 13 away Premier League games and looked keen to end that run as they set up to frustrate United by defending deep.
It worked too, with United's only real outlet being Martial, whose direct running at least gave the Baggies defence questions to answer.
The only chance of a monotonous first half fell to Martial on 30 minutes but his back-post header, where he rose above Craig Dawson, was directed two yards wide.
The match continued in the same pattern after the break with West Brom soaking up United's timid attacking play.
Mkhitaryan did bundle his way through on 65 minutes after a mistake from Gareth McAuley, but Foster came to the rescue to deflect the ball to safety.
Rooney was sent on with 19 minutes to play but had little effect on proceedings as Jonny Evans and McAuley defended their box with some outstanding clearances.
Rashford, fed up of being marked out of the game by the Baggies back-line, starting taking pot-shots from range and Foster had to be alert to parry away a powerful effort from 30 yards.
West Brom rarely emerged into United's territory and only mustered three shots on goal, but one of them nearly caught out De Gea with 10 minutes left. The former United man tried his luck from 25 yards, which was straight at De Gea, however, the goalkeeper let the ball slip through his fingers but the ball ricocheted back off the crossbar and into his hands.
There was to be one last chance for United but Rashford's spectacular effort from a 30-yard free-kick was turned over the crossbar with one hand by Foster.
Next up for United is Everton at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
Manchester United: De Gea (5), Rojo (6), Young (6), Bailly (7), Valencia (6), Fellaini (6), Carrick (6), Mkhitaryan (5), Lingard (5), Martial (7), Rashford (6)
Subs: Rooney (5).
West Brom: Foster (8), Dawson (7), McAuley (7), Evans (9), Nyom (7), Livermore (6), Fletcher (7); Brunt (6), Chadli (6), McClean (6), Robson-Kanu (6)
Subs: Yacob (6), Morrison (6), Rondon (7)
Man of the match: Jonny Evans