United frustrated as Swansea come away from Old Trafford with a point

Image: The Guardian

A first half penalty goal from Wayne Rooney was equalized to 1-1 by a late free-kick by Gylfi Sigurdsson as United split the points for the 10th time this season at Old Trafford.

Swansea opened the better side and were perhaps a little bit unfortunate when referee Neil Swarbrick pointed to the spot in the first half stoppage time. The Swansea defence claimed Rashford had dived as Fabianski came sliding out, but the decision had been made and Rooney converted from the spot.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, Rooney clumsily brought down Jordan Ayew on 25 yards. Ander Herrera saw what was about to happen and ran from the wall to the near post. As he moved back into the wall after being told to do so by David de Gea, Sigurdsson curled the free-kick into the top near corner. Even with Herrera on the post, it would’ve been difficult to stop.

The dropped points became even more sour as United had to see both Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly come off with injuries. The former was subbed in the eight minute of the game with an injury Mourinho deemed “more serious”, while Bailly came off in the second half. Blind and Darmian formed the centre back partnership after the injury to Bailly, while Young and Valencia covered the full back positions.

Swansea start better

Right from the kick off it was clear that relegation-struggling Swansea were the fresher side. They outnumbered United in the midfield and had the first couple of good opportunities of the game. The first came after Bailly had initially cleaned up inside the box but the defender hesitated before clearing the ball off Sigurdsson, who couldn’t direct his block on target.

A minute or so later the linesman ignored a clear offside to let Llorente inside the box. After cutting inside of Bailly, the Spaniard let fly but De Gea was there to push the effort away before eventually Young cleared for a corner.

It took 17 minutes for United to threaten the first time. Anthony Martial had been our best player so far when he clipped a ball over the top to find Lingard, who on his first touch couldn’t get a proper shot off. Fabianski saved and punched the ball out for a corner.

It was a strange first half with Carrick seeing very little of the ball. On 29 minutes he did pick up a loose ball and found Martial down the left flank. The Frenchman cut inside, got past two Swansea defenders and let fly from 18 yards, but unfortunately it was straight at Fabianski.

A couple of half chances each way followed before Lingard turned on 20 yards. The Englishman played through Rashford who maybe fell a little bit easily from Fabianski’s challenge and the ref pointed to the spot. Rooney converted and United were up by one for half time.

Roo times two?

After a rather poor first half, United were on the front foot at the start of the second half. Rooney should’ve doubled his tally on the day when Herrera found him in space seven yards from goal. Unfortunately his finish hit Martial’s back when it looked certain for the back of the net.

United were the better side in the second half, but didn’t manage to create much else than half chances. Fabianski comfortably saved shots from Valencia, Lingard and Martial, and the hosts started to look a little frustrated. It was clear that United were lacking either of Pogba’s creativity, Zlatan’s presence or Mata’s vision or a combination of the three. At the same time there was a sense of worry about what could be done differently should Swansea equalize.

Sure enough, as has happened quite a few times at Old Trafford this season, Swansea got a golden opportunity from the free-kick. Sigurdsson, who’s scored two and assisted the other three of Swansea’s last five goals against United, didn’t need asking twice as he scored a fantastic free-kick.

Back at level terms, both teams had a chance of nicking a win. First up was Lingard, when Young sent a deep cross towards the back post. Lingard met the ball with his head but was unable to get the necessary power on his finish to beat Fabianski. In stoppage time, Llorente could’ve stolen all the points from Old Trafford. Sigurdsson clipped a free-kick into the box and the striker was close to getting a touch on the ball inside the six yard box.

There weren’t many positives to take from the game but at least Manchester City didn’t win in their game away to Middlesbrough. Status quo in the top four race when United could’ve gone third with a win. Additionally, Mata was back on the bench, which is a massive plus as it seems like at least one new player is added to the injury list for each game that passes.

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