A blunder by De Gea versus a superb display by Grant for Stoke in goal allowed the Potters to claim a precious point from Old Trafford today, but the Red Devils have a real problem to finish off games this season, despite the presence of Zlatan, Rashford and others in the line-up, as on Thursday night itself they proved it with only a single goal against FC Zorya Luhansk. Today, Zlatan, Pogba, Lingard and the others had many opportunities to kill off the game in the first half itself, but they were either denied by Grant, or their own profligacy.
United could have been a goal up in the opening minutes of the first half, but Grant twice denied Zlatan on the same action to keep the score 0-0. Stoke responded but De Gea had a casual save to make from Cameron’s effort. The same Cameron tested De Gea again minutes later, but again failed to get past the keeper. Pogba then somehow missed the target completely at the other end, as his attempt to find the corner of the post instead turned into a shot well wide off target. United were really boss team in the first half, and Mata then tried to lob Grant, only for the keeper to produce a fine save by palming the ball over his bar. Lingard then drew a first class save from Grant again as the game progressed on. 0-0 at half time, United were let down by their finishing touches, while Stoke were lucky and grateful to Grant at the same time for keeping them in the match.
The Potters however came back in the second half with more attacking intent than their counterparts, as United were almost pinned back until the hour mark or so, when Martial and Rooney were sent on to provide more depth the the play. The pair indeed came to United’s rescue on the 69th minute, as Martial fed the ball to Rooney, and the latter in trying to get a clear chance on goal, saw a Stoke defender rob him of the ball. However, the loose ball fell straight to Martial, who dispatched a clinical finish into the far post to finally beat Grant. United tried to build up on the goal, but again Grant was on hand to deny Zlatan. While it looked set for a win for United, they were brought down to earth by an unbelievable mistake from De Gea. Johnson’s shot took a slight deflection, but De Gea completely misread the trajectory, and spilled the ball into Walter’s path. The latter’s attempt was blocked by diving bodies from the reds, but the ball still managed to crash against the bar, and with no red players near, Allen had the simple job to finish off the rebound to hammer the Red Devils. United tried to get a goal again, but the closest they came as the game came to an end was Pogba’s header crashing against the bar at the other end, and both teams settling for a point each. The Red Devils clearly are in need of inspiration, and quickly as well, as bigger games are coming, and they might well find themselves in a very uncomfortable situation if they continue to play like this.