Sunderland 0-2 Manchester City: Visitors in control at Stadium of Light

5 Mar 2017
Pep Guardiola’s men enjoyed a routine victory over the beleaguered Black Cats, with Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane both on target

Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane were on target as Manchester City won 2-0 at Sunderland to keep their title ambitions alive and push the Wearsiders closer to the relegation trapdoor.

Argentina international Aguero tapped home from close range in the closing stages of a first half bossed by the hosts, before former Schalke star Sane made it two after the break.

It is now four Premier League wins on the bounce for City to move them eight points behind leaders Chelsea, who visit West Ham on Monday.

The situation at the other end of the table is starting to look bleak for David Moyes’ men, however, with Sunderland now six points from safety with 11 games remaining.

They can, at least, take encouragement from a battling display which was ultimately undone by City’s superior individual class.

Sunderland made an encouraging start and they came close to grabbing a surprise lead through Jermain Defoe in the 20th minute, the experienced forward hitting the upright with a fine shot from outside the area, before Fabio Borini headed wide from the rebound.

The hosts had another chance to break the deadlock 10 minutes before half-time when Adnan Januzaj’s corner picked out Billy Jones but the right-back aimed his header straight at goalkeeper Willy Caballero.

City had offered little going forward – David Silva just failing to connect with Sane’s drilled cross the best of their few opportunities – but they still went into half time 1-0 up. Silva set up Raheem Sterling down the right and his deflected cross fell perfectly for Aguero to stab past Jordan Pickford at his near post.

Pep Guardiola’s side could have doubled their lead early in the second half after an intricate team move involving Yaya Toure, Sterling and Silva, with the latter eventually forcing Pickford into a strong save with a powerful shot from inside the box.

But there was no denying City minutes later when Silva sent Sane clean through on goal with an intelligent pass, the winger taking a touch to take it around Jones before blasting a low shot past Pickford and into the corner.

Sunderland refused to throw in the towel and Januzaj could have pulled one back but headed just wide following Bryan Oviedo’s cross.

Defoe had a late header correctly ruled out for offside while Aguero was denied his second by a stunning Pickford stop.

 

West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Crystal Palace: Zaha & Townsend seal vital win

4 Mar 2017
Sam Allardyce’s men picked up a vital three points that will help boost their chances of survival, taking them out of the relegation zone

Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend were on target as Crystal Palace moved out of the relegation zone with a crucial 2-0 win at West Brom on Saturday.

After an uneventful first half at The Hawthorns it was Palace that took a 55th-minute lead through Ivory Coast winger Zaha following a great ball from Yohan Cabaye for his first Eagles goal since January 3.

Palace then put the game beyond all doubt in the closing stages when Townsend completed a swift break from the visitors.

It marks another huge boost for Palace following their 1-0 win over relegation rivals Middlesbrough last week, and Sam Allardyce’s side now leapfrog Aitor Karanka’s men into 17th.

West Brom had plenty of cause for optimism heading into the match having taken 11 points from their past league matches and going unbeaten since a 4-0 loss to Tottenham on January 14.

Tony Pulis had little to shout about against his former club, though, and West Brom – who remain eighth in the table – can have few complaints about the result.

There was little action in a tepid opening, but Palace had the first chance of note when Christian Benteke beat his marker from Cabaye’s corner, only to see his fine header cleared off the goalline by Chris Brunt with goalkeeper Ben Foster well beaten.

The hosts struggled to create anything of note going forward with Palace’s defence marshalling Salomon Rondon well, and the striker was fortunate to escape punishment for a dive late in the first half following a duel with Cabaye.

Palace found another gear after the break and they got the goal their play deserved when Zaha brilliantly controlled Cabaye’s sublime pass before drilling his effort into Foster’s bottom right-hand corner.

West Brom seemingly awoke from their slumber and Nacer Chadli tested Wayne Hennessey with a low shot from outside the area.

The impressive Zaha continued to cause the hosts problems, though, and he was unlucky not to double his side’s lead after a superb dribble from which Foster did just enough to save his shot, with Jason Puncheon failing to find the net from the rebound.

Pulis brought on Hal Robson-Kanu for Allan Nyom in an attempt to force an equaliser, but there would not be a comeback as Townsend doubled his side’s lead in the 84th minute.

The winger had failed to beat Foster from close range with 10 minutes left on the clock, but he made amends when he fired home from inside the box after a rapid counter-attack to seal the win.

 

Watford 3-4 Southampton: Redmond scores twice as visitors come from behind to win

4 Mar 2017
The midfielder helped the Saints become only the second team to win at Vicarage Road in over two months.

Southampton came from behind to beat Watford 4-3 and leapfrog their opponents in the Premier League table.

The Saints put the memory of their EFL Cup final defeat to Manchester United behind them with a fluent performance, and became only the second side to win at Vicarage Road in 2017.

Troy Deeney scored his fifth goal in six Premier League games to put Watford ahead, but the afternoon got worse thereafter for Walter Mazzarri’s men.

Southampton’s success was forged in their midfield, and Watford struggled to contain the industry and craft of James Ward-Prowse, Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond. Tadic scored his third goal of the season to level matters, before turning provider for Redmond to make it 2-1.

Stefano Okaka levelled for Watford after 79 minutes, but Mazzarri’s pre-match plea to his side to “stop sitting back” fell on deaf ears as an error by Heurelho Gomes allowed Manolo Gabbiadini to make it 3-2 before Redmond wrapped up the win with a solo run and finish, rendering Abdoulaye Doucoure’s late consolation goal meaningless.

Deeney gave Watford an early lead with a goal he created and scored himself, playing a neat one-two with Okaka before side-footing a volley past the out-stretched Fraser Forster and into the corner of the net.

The Saints showed the quality that pushed United all the way in the EFL Cup final and Redmond danced through the Watford midfield before flashing a shot just wide and the scores were level after 27 minutes.

Tadic and Redmond passed their way into the box and, when Watford failed to clear their lines, the Serbian midfielder rifled a low shot beyond Gomes to make it 1-1.

The Watford goalkeeper then pulled off two excellent saves, but he could do nothing to stop Redmond giving Southampton the lead just before half-time after Tadic teed him up in the box for a low shot into the far corner of the net.

Gabbiadini went into the game hoping to become the first Southampton player to score in his first three Premier League appearances for the club, and he should have clinched the record when he ran across the face of goal early in the second half but failed to get his shot away before being dispossessed.

Gomes made a wonderful fingertip save to turn Tadic’s half-volley over the crossbar after an hour, and the Brazilian goalkeeper kept Watford in the game again moments later with a reaction save from Maya Yoshida’s close-range volley.

Tom Cleverley put Okaka through for a rare Watford chance with 15 minutes remaining and Forster saved the Italian striker’s shot with his feet, but Southampton’s resistance was eventually breached.

The introduction of Isaac Success seemed to galvanise Watford, and the substitute raced down the left wing before crossing to the feet of Okaka, who hit a first-time shot high into the net.

But Watford capitulated in the dying minutes of the game, with Gomes spilling Tadic’s speculative shot at the feet of Gabbiadini to allow the Italian to score his sixth goal in his last four Southampton appearances in all competitions.

And three minutes later Sebastian Prodl backed off as Redmond dribbled into the box and chipped Gomes to wrap up a deserved victory even though Watford had the last word with Doucoure’s close-range goal in injury time.

Swansea City 3-2 Burnley: Llorente’s injury-time header secures crucial win

4 Mar 2017
In a thrilling contest at Liberty Stadium, the Spaniard’s last-ditch effort secured the Welsh club a vital three points in their relegation battle

Swansea City pulled further away from the Premier League relegation zone as they dramatically beat Burnley 3-2 to register a third consecutive home win thanks to Fernando Llorente’s 92nd-minute header.

Paul Clement’s side were just two points clear of the bottom three going into this game, but had been resurgent in the early weeks of the new manager’s tenure.

And, in an enthralling encounter at Liberty Stadium, Llorente netted a decisive brace to see off the challenge of Burnley.

The former Juventus forward opened the scoring, before Andre Gray netted twice – including a controversial equaliser from the penalty spot – to put the visitors in front.

But Martin Olsson rattled in a leveller to set up a grandstand finish, Llorente rising to nod a fine header beyond Paul Robinson to clinch all three points.

Swansea now head into a crucial part of the season, with successive fixtures to come against fellow strugglers Hull City, Bournemouth and Middlesbrough.

Robinson, deputising for ill Burnley captain Tom Heaton, was beaten twice in quick succession by Alfie Mawson early on, but the woodwork came to his aid on both occasions as the defender first directed a header onto the crossbar and then shot against the foot of the post.

However, the hosts’ next attack did bring a reward through Llorente, who nodded Leroy Fer’s superb cross from the right wing back across Robinson and into the bottom corner for a deserved opener after 12 minutes.

Burnley were quick to respond, though, with Lukasz Fabianski equal to Jeff Hendrick’s low drive before clawing Gray’s deflected effort away.

And an equaliser soon arrived in controversial circumstances as referee Anthony Taylor awarded a spot-kick for a handball in the Swansea area, despite visiting forward Sam Vokes appearing to be the guilty party.

Gray dispatched the penalty beyond Fabianski amid jeers from the home support, but Swansea were soon back on the front foot and Robinson saved well from Olsson.

Gylfi Sigurdsson then dragged wide of the right-hand post and tested the goalkeeper from a free-kick, either side of Llorente’s header hitting the crossbar, in the closing minutes of a thrilling first half.

Ben Mee crucially cleared Sigurdsson’s curler away from the line, before Llorente nudged wide from Tom Carroll’s delivery.

And Swansea were made to pay for their profligacy as Gray grabbed his second, controlling Vokes’ flick-on to turn and clinically strike into the bottom-right corner.

But, with Burnley eyeing a first away win of the season, the hosts hit back when Olsson ran through on the left-side of the area from Sigurdsson’s deft touch and powered a finish high past Robinson at his near post.

Swansea kept pushing, but it looked as though there would be no winner as Olsson sent another effort over the bar and Carroll’s late blast was deflected past the post.

However, Carroll had one last moment of quality in his locker and delivered for Llorente to score, with Clement racing down the touchline amid joyous celebrations.

 

Manchester United 1-1 Bournemouth: Ibrahimovic the villain as Mourinho’s men held by 10-man Cherries

4 Mar 2017
The Red Devils missed the chance to move into the top four after being forced to settle for a point at Old Trafford

Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty and could face a retrospective ban from the Football Association after Manchester United were held to 1-1 Premier League draw by 10-man Bournemouth.

The match-winner in last weekend’s EFL Cup final, Ibrahimovic has performed majestically in his debut season in English football but he stole the show for all the wrong reasons against Bournemouth, whose manager Eddie Howe grappled with a bout of illness on the touchline throughout an ill-tempered contest.

Marcos Rojo’s maiden Premier League goal gave United a deserved 23rd-minute lead before ex-Red Devils youngster Josh King levelled from the penalty spot.

Ibrahimovic then found himself embroiled in a flashpoint on the stroke of half-time, when Tyrone Mings trod on his head and he responded by elbowing the Bournemouth full-back.

Referee Kevin Friend lost control of the action at that stage as the United favourite escaped further punishment and Andrew Surman received a second booking – the red card came after an embarrassing delay as Friend briefly forgot the yellow he showed the midfielder for a 33rd-minute foul on Luke Shaw.

Ibrahimovic could not make the most of his reprieve as the excellent Artur Boruc saved his 72nd-minute penalty and Jose Mourinho’s sixth-placed side miss out on the chance to go fourth.

Wayne Rooney was back in the United starting line-up and the home captain, along with Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were guilty of early wastefulness as Bournemouth were cut open at will.

Cherries striker Benik Afobe lost his footing when one-on-one with David de Gea but the Spain international’s opposite number Artur Boruc remained the busier of the two as he got down to thwart Anthony Martial.

Michael Carrick threaded a magnificent 20th-minute pass through to Martial as Boruc stood firm again and it took a less familiar source to give United the lead.

Carrick played conductor once more, exchanging passes with Pogba and laying the ball out to Antonio Valencia, whose drilled attempt into the box was turned home by Rojo.

The flow of chances quelled after the opener and Bournemouth levelled six minutes before the break – King crashing in a penalty in front of the Stretford End after Phil Jones clumsily felled Marc Pugh.

Ibrahimovic was booked for dissent following that decision and the fired-up Swede was at the centre of a fractious and confused end to the half.

When looking to regain ground following a tackle on Rooney, Mings trod on Ibrahimovic’s head. Retribution was swift as United’s top scorer elbowed the full-back when the ball entered the Bournemouth box moments later.

In the ensuing melee, Surman shoved Ibrahimovic and was shown a yellow card. It was only as Friend neglected to do likewise to the ex-PSG star that he remembered Surman was previously booked and the Bournemouth man belatedly saw red.

Pogba tested Boruc from long range in the 56th minute as an air of normality returned to proceedings.

The France midfielder then won a free-kick in a dangerous position but Ibrahimovic shot limply into the wall, compounding a frustrating outing.

With 20 minutes left to play, Mourinho unfurled a three-card trick in an attempt to find a way through – Shaw, Carrick and Rooney making way for Jesse Lingard, Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford.

Nevertheless, Ibrahimovic remained flailing at centre stage. After Pogba drew a 71st-minute handball from Adam Smith, the 35-year-old’s penalty was not struck cleanly and too close to Boruc, who saved to his right.

Harry Arter should have received a second caution for a lunging tackle on Pogba, whose combined air shot and standing leg effort at close quarters in stoppage time added a fitting final note of farce.

 

Liverpool 3-1 Arsenal: Sanchez benching backfires as Reds take win

4 Mar 2017
The Gunners paid the price by conceding two goals in the first half while the Chilean kicked his heels on the sidelines

Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino both scored one and created another before Georginio Wijnaldum netted in stoppage time to help Liverpool to a crucial 3-1 win over Arsenal in the race for Champions League qualification.

Senegal international Mane handed Firmino the opener on a plate with a superb low cross early on, before the Brazilian returned the favour late in the first half.

Danny Welbeck pulled one back after the break, but the Liverpool defence held firm and Wijnaldum made sure of a vital Premier League victory in the 91st minute.

Much was at stake at Anfield as Liverpool desperately needed a win to keep their Champions League ambitions alive after their 3-1 defeat at Leicester City on Monday.

Victory for Arsenal would have seen them move four points clear of Jurgen Klopp’s men with a game in hand, as well as provide a much-needed confidence boost after recent big-game defeats against Chelsea and Bayern Munich.

Arsene Wenger had to make do without Mesut Ozil due to illness, though, while he left out top scorer Alexis Sanchez in favour of Olivier Giroud and Arsenal looked toothless going forward without their star men before the break.

They failed to create any chances of note in the opening 45 minutes and the game was all but decided by the time Sanchez came on at half-time, with Welbeck’s goal not enough to spark a comeback.

Saturday’s victory sees Liverpool leapfrog Arsenal and Manchester City into third place with 52 points from 27 games, while Wenger’s men sit fifth.

Liverpool made an encouraging start and needed just nine minutes to open the scoring via Firmino. Mane was at the heart of it with a low cross from the right, Philippe Coutinho surprised Hector Bellerin with the stepover and the former Hoffenheim man slammed home from close range.

The hosts continued to dominate proceedings in the opening stages and Coutinho nearly doubled their lead with a powerful long-range strike after some good work from Wijnaldum, goalkeeper Petr Cech getting a hand to the ball to push it over for a corner.

Things went from bad to worse for Arsenal in the closing stages of the first half and Mane doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 40th minute after a fine team move. James Milner played in Wijnaldum down the left, who in turn reached Firmino. The Brazilian unselfishly laid it off for Mane and the winger beat Cech with a low shot.

Coutinho spurned a chance to make it three just minutes later when a deflected Adam Lallana strike dropped straight at his feet, but he failed to beat Cech with his weak attempt from close range.

Arsenal nearly found a way back in early in the second half when Giroud forced Simon Mignolet into a sublime save with a powerful header from the centre of the box, the Liverpool goalkeeper palming the ball against the crossbar before collecting it.

Welbeck did pull one back minutes later after a delicate throughball from substitute Sanchez, coolly chipping the ball over Mignolet for his first Premier League goal since April 2016.

Wenger brought on Theo Walcott and Lucas Perez in an attempt to force an equaliser – with the Arsenal fans seemingly unhappy to see Welbeck hooked – but the Frenchman’s tactic failed to pay off as Wijnaldum added a third for Liverpool to put the result beyond doubt after being set up by Divock Origi, who had previously already hit the upright.

Leicester City 3-1 Hull City: Mahrez on target in Foxes comeback

4 Mar 2017
Marco Silva’s side took an early lead against their fellow strugglers, but Christian Fuchs and Riyad Mahrez struck to secure a vital win

Leicester City continued their post-Claudio Ranieri revival to move five points clear of the Premier League relegation zone by coming from behind to beat fellow strugglers Hull City 3-1.

The Premier League champions beat Liverpool by the same scoreline on Monday in their first game since the controversial sacking of Ranieri.

Yet they seemed set to come back down to earth after 14 minutes on Saturday, Sam Clucas’ close-range effort putting Hull ahead.

However, the two stars of Leicester’s incredible title-winning campaign under Ranieri had a hand in what could prove to be a crucial comeback.

First, Jamie Vardy set up Christian Fuchs to level the scores midway through the first half.

Riyad Mahrez then completed the turnaround just before the hour mark when he hit home from the edge of the box, with a late Tom Huddlestone own-goal adding gloss to the scoreline as Leicester made it two wins from two under caretaker Craig Shakespeare and leaving Hull second bottom – four points adrift of safety.

Wes Morgan wasted a superb opportunity to open the scoring inside five minutes, heading wide unmarked from a Mahrez free-kick.

Leicester continued to enjoy the better of the opening stages but, amid a sustained period of pressure, the hosts were caught on the counter.

Wilfred Ndidi carelessly gave the ball away and Hull ruthlessly took advantage, Oumar Niasse slipping in Kamil Grosicki, whose cross from the left was turned in by Clucas after Kasper Schmeichel could only push it into the midfielder’s path.

But Leicester responded 13 minutes later as Fuchs and Vardy linked up superbly down the left before the England international found the Austrian arriving late into the box to tuck the ball home.

Hull were denied by the woodwork shortly after the restart, Harry Maguire striking the post with an improvised effort off the bottom of his boot from Grosicki’s corner.

However, that was a fleeting moment of promise for Hull and Leicester continued to push for a turnaround, which they did through a moment of Mahrez magic.

The Algeria winger danced on the edge of the area as he searched for space before squeaking a fierce low effort inside the right-hand post, with Eldin Jakupovic not able to keep the shot out despite getting a hand to it.

Schmeichel had to be alert shortly after to keep out Grosicki’s free-kick from a difficult angle.

Hull rarely threatened after that missed opportunity, though, and Huddlestone inadvertently headed a corner into his own net late on to make it 3-1, with Leicester’s Thai owners pictured giving the thumbs up at the end of Shakespeare’s latest audition for the job.

 

West Ham 0-4 Manchester City: Jesus impresses in big win

1 Feb 2017 21:38:29
The January signing got a goal and assist as Pep Guardiola’s side put the Hammers to the sword, helping them keep pace with the top four

Gabriel Jesus starred with a goal and an assist on his first Premier League start as Manchester City romped to a 4-0 victory at West Ham.

Pep Guardiola made two bold selection decisions in leaving Claudio Bravo and Sergio Aguero on the substitutes’ bench and was rewarded with only a second top-flight victory in five attempts.

Kevin De Bruyne put City ahead with his fourth league goal of the season having been set up by Jesus. David Silva swiftly doubled the visitors’ lead with his second goal of the league campaign and Jesus struck himself before the break.

Yaya Toure added gloss to the scoreline with a second-half penalty, the midfielder’s fourth strike for City since Boxing Day.

Guardiola’s side had thumped West Ham 5-0 in the FA Cup last month and were similarly dominant here.

City now move level on points with fourth-placed Liverpool and to within 10 of leaders Chelsea. West Ham stay 11th after their two-match winning streak was brought to an emphatic halt.

Both sides had early half chances, Raheem Sterling volleying wide for City before Michail Antonio shot straight at Willy Caballero – selected over Bravo – from 25 yards at the other end.

City struck first after 17 minutes when Aaron Cresswell lost possession with a terrible pass, as De Bruyne, one of three players brought back into Guardiola’s team, finished confidently from just inside the area following an excellent one-two with Jesus.

It was two for the visitors just four minutes later. Leroy Sane was the creator, impressively gliding past Sam Byram and debutant Jose Fonte before his deflected square pass found its way to Silva, who tapped in from inside the six-yard box.

City were rampant and Sterling headed off-target from close range after Sane and Silva had combined to create the opportunity.

West Ham threatened to respond, but Cresswell’s miserable evening continued as he lashed an effort over with only Caballero to beat having been set up by Andy Carroll’s impressive lofted pass.

And City put the result beyond doubt six minutes before the break, the superb Jesus rounding off a slick team move that saw Sterling latch on to Sane’s pass before squaring for the Brazil international to finish simply with a low, left-footed strike.

Jesus fired wide after more good work from Sane early in a second half that started with fewer fireworks than the first.

Slaven Bilic handed Robert Snodgrass his debut from the bench, but City added a fourth before the winger could make an impact.

De Bruyne’s pass released Sterling and the England international was fouled by Fonte – who was having a debut to forget – in the area, with Toure’s low 67th-minute spot-kick too good for Darren Randolph, despite the goalkeeper getting a hand to it having correctly dived to his right.

Aguero was given 17 minutes off the bench from Guardiola, while West Ham’s hopes of a consolation were thwarted when Antonio’s thumping strike was ruled out after he strayed offside from Snodgrass’ pass, City cruising to victory with Caballero barely troubled.

 

Stoke City 1-1 Everton: Toffees hold Potters at the Britannia

1 Feb 2017
The Potters went in front thanks to their striker’s 100th goal in the division, but were forced to share the spoils after a controversial goal

Peter Crouch’s 100th Premier League goal was not enough for Stoke City to overcome Everton as the two in-form sides drew 1-1 at the Britannia Stadium.

The 36-year-old striker reached his century early in the game from close range, and celebrated in nostalgic fashion with his trademark robot celebration.

Crouch was impressive throughout the game, but he and Marko Arnautovic spurned chances to extend the hosts’ lead in a dominant first-half performance before a Ryan Shawcross own-goal salvaged a point for Everton.

It was initially chalked off for offside, only for the decision to be reversed after referee Craig Pawson correctly ruled that Seamus Coleman’s strike had struck the Stoke skipper and not Romelu Lukaku on its way into the net.

Stoke are now four league games unbeaten while Everton are six in the top flight without defeat.

The hosts were fastest out of the traps and Crouch reached his ton after just seven minutes when he slid home at close range from a pinpoint Arnautovic pass.

Everton’s defence, watertight in their last three league games, were caught napping by a hopeful long ball that freed the Austria international on the left-hand side of the penalty area.

The veteran striker went agonisingly close to making it 2-0 after 25 minutes, catching Arnautovic’s cushioned header sweetly on the volley, only to see his strike whistle past the post.

Joel Robles then charged down an Arnautovic effort as Stoke continued to dominate.

Everton struggled to match Stoke’s intensity and were fortunate to draw level five minutes before the interval thanks to Pawson’s change of heart.

Ronald Koeman introduced James McCarthy for Mason Holgate at half-time, abandoning his side’s 3-5-2 shape, making Everton much more effective in inhibiting Stoke’s attacking play.

Stoke were limited to two audacious Charlie Adam attempts from long-range to catch out Robles, and Crouch headed over just after the hour.

Mark Hughes brought on Saido Berahino for his Stoke debut in the 66th minute, though it was Everton’s January signing Ademola Lookman who made an immediate impact from the bench, forcing Lee Grant into a smart save at his near post.

Both teams had chances to win it inside the final five minutes.

Berahino almost marked his debut with the decisive goal, lifting the ball over an onrushing Robles only for Ramiro Funes Mori to head to safety from below his bar.

His team-mates then owed thanks to Grant for safeguarding the point, improbably clawing away a goalbound Tom Davies header in the final stages as both sides had to settle for the a draw.

 

Manchester United 0-0 Hull City: Red Devils fail to close gap on top four

1 Feb 2017
Jose Mourinho’s team were not at their best and frustrated by the heroics of Tigers goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic when they did create chances

Manchester United remain four points off the Premier League’s top four after being held to a 0-0 draw by Hull City at Old Trafford.

The Red Devils struggled for fluency throughout against Marco Silva’s side and the result could have been worse for them if a superb effort from Lazar Markovic late on had not caught the post.

Zlatan’s agent hints at one more club

United’s best chance fell to Juan Mata, who appeared certain to score at the far post when Chris Smalling headed across goal only for Eldin Jakupovic to make a stunning save.

Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool all failed to win in their respective league outings on Tuesday but with Manchester City beating West Ham, Jose Mourinho’s men remain adrift in the race for Champions League qualification.

Mourinho opted to start Marcus Rashford on the left despite Anthony Martial’s impressive performance in the FA Cup, with Wayne Rooney then introduced from the bench at half-time.

The England captain failed to make much of an impact, however, leaving United winless in three Premier League matches.

After a disjointed opening, United began to exert control in the 15th minute – their purpose signified by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 25-yard drive, which was tipped around the post by Jakupovic.

They then crafted another opportunity from the resulting corner, but Marcos Rojo headed over after Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s delivery was brilliantly flicked back into the danger zone by Rashford.

United’s dominance in possession showed no sign of letting up and Hull spent prolonged periods camped in their own area.

But the hosts did not create another chance until the 35th minute, with Pogba teeing up Ibrahimovic on the edge of the area for what was ultimately a scuffed left-footed effort straight to Jakupovic.

The goalkeeper was given significantly more of a test just before the break but again he denied United, as Pogba latched on to Ibrahimovic’s clever backheel and saw his left-footed strike pushed away.

Jose Mourinho looked to add extra invention to United’s attack by replacing Michael Carrick with Rooney at the start of the second period.

But it was Pogba who inspired their next chance 10 minutes later with a long ball over the Hull defence to pick out Rashford, who could only scuff wide despite a marvellous first touch.

Rashford was involved again shortly after, heading Antonio Valencia’s cross into the danger zone only for Ibrahimovic to half-volley just wide from eight yards after Rooney completely missed the ball.

Hazard: United & Arsenal our main rivals

United should have gone in front 16 minutes from time but again Jakupovic came to Hull’s rescue, denying substitute Mata from point-blank range after Smalling headed a corner across the face of goal.

In the end it was Hull who went closest, with only the post preventing Markovic from making an already frustrating outing even worse for Mourinho after the end of a swift break.