Pog hits the bar as Stoke City thwart Man United
An uncharacteristic error from Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea gifted Stoke City a point in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday that saw the visitors climb off the bottom of the Premier League table.
Anthony Martial’s first goal of the season appeared to have given United victory.
But his 69th-minute effort was cancelled out eight minutes from time by Joe Allen, with de Gea playing a key role in the equaliser for a Stoke side managed by former United striker Mark Hughes.
An inspired substitution by United manager Jose Mourinho, who brought on Martial and England captain Wayne Rooney after 66 minutes, saw the former give his team the lead just three minutes later.
Martial’s attack ended with a pass which Rooney mis-controlled but a fortunate deflection off Geoff Cameron saw the ball break back to the French striker who curled home an impressive finish.
There had been little for Stoke supporters to cheer in that second half but, eight minutes from time, they equalised after De Gea failed to gather a deflected Glen Johnson shot.
Jonathan Walters pounced on the rebound and, after his effort from a tight angle had struck the crossbar, Allen had the task of bundling the ball into an open goal from close range.
United should have had the game under control inside the opening two minutes, the time it took for Zlatan Ibrahimovic to surprisingly waste a glorious chance.
Antonio Valencia’s pass found Paul Pogba whose magnificent through ball played Ibrahimovic clean through on goal only for the Swede to hit a shot directly at goalkeeper Lee Grant, with the goal at his mercy.
That miss might have proved doubly costly after 14 minutes when Stoke’s first noteworthy attack ended with Allen’s intelligent cross from the right-hand byline being miskicked by Wilfried Bony but finding Cameron whose attempt was straight at De Gea.
That was a rare moment of relief for Stoke, still searching for their first win of the season, and United should have gone in at the interval at least one goal to the good.
A minute after Cameron threatened, an Ibrahimovic pass was back-heeled by Jesse Lingard into the path of Pogba who miscued his shot wide of the goal.
– Ibrahimovic skill –
Pogba’s lay-off soon found Juan Mata whose superb chip from just inside the area was tipped over, acrobatically, by Grant. From the corner that followed, Daley Blind picked out Pogba whose downwards header bounced off target.
Ibrahimovic then showed yet more sublime skill with a near-post cross that was flicked goalwards by Lingard, forcing Grant into another decent save, and the United pair then switched roles — Lingard crossing to the far post in the 31st minute for Ibrahimovic, at full stretch, to see his shot blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
Pogba also ensured the half ended with United on the offensive as his powerful shot from the edge of the area flashed across Grant’s goal.
United opened the second half on the back foot, De Gea forced to save from Bruno Martins Indi’s header and Erik Pieters, Xherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic combining magnificently to set up a shot which Allen should have converted, rather than striking straight at the keeper.
Ander Herrera and Ibrahimovic threatened the Stoke goal with strikes from outside the area which flew just wide but, by the 67th minute Mourinho had seen enough, making the substitutions that would lead to Martial’s opening goal.
The goal clearly deflated Stoke and, moments after it, Marcus Rashford’s superb cross was mishit by Rooney, although Ibrahimovic kept the move going for Blind to have a shot charged down by Johnson.
Soon afterwards, Ibrahimovic did well to keep the ball down in forcing Grant into another sound save.
Stoke, however, were gifted an equaliser before being required to withstand a late United barrage — Grant saving well from Ibrahimovic, and Pogba heading a Rashford centre against the bar.
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