Have a guess at the score, go on, we’ll give you a hint. Manchester Utd were playing. Another hint? They went one-nil up. One more? OK it was still one-nil with about ten minutes to go. Got it? Of course you did. Manchester United and Swansea played out a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon.
It’s the story of United’s season but this time it was a little different. In most of the other 1-1’s this season they have dominated the games only to fail to make the most of their chances and then have been hit by a sucker punch late on to drop two points. Yesterday, the Reds were second best for most of the game. Swansea outnumbered United in midfield and they ran the home side, who seemed sluggish throughout, ragged.
Sigurdsson got on the end of a rushed Eric Bailly clearance on 12 minutes and was unlucky to see his shot flash wide and then just a few minutes later De Gea was called upon to produce a stunning save from Llorente’s curling effort.
At this stage United had already been forced in to a change with Luke Shaw departing with an ankle injury after just eight minutes. Mourinho was typically compassionate, sarcastically saying afterwards that it must be a very serious injury if it was forcing him off so soon in the game.
Swansea continued to threaten while at the same time limiting United to long range free kicks and half chances, it looked as though if the home side were ever going to take the lead they would need a moment of magic or a massive slice of luck. As the half drew to a close, they got both.
Mourinho was already walking towards the tunnel when Lingard burst through the Swansea midfield and played a teasing through ball to Marcus Rashford, the young striker raced on to the ball and then nicked it past Fabianski before tumbling to the floor, on television it looked like a penalty, and after a moment of contemplation, referee Neil Swarbrick agreed and pointed to the spot. Swansea’s players were incensed and replays showed that their anger was justified, there was no contact, it was a blatant dive. Not that United would have cared and Wayne Rooney stepped up to gratefully slot home goal number 252 of his Red’s career and give his side an ill deserved lead.
The teams began the second half to the tune of “One-nil to the referee” as the travelling support made clear what they thought of the decision and Swansea’s misery was nearly compounded when Herrera picked out Rooney in the box on 49 minutes but, with the goal at his mercy, the veteran striker struck the back of his team mate Martial rather than the back of the net.
United looked tired, coming in to this game they had played 19 more games than Swansea this season, a whole half of a league campaign, and it was showing not just in their play but also in the wear and tear on their players, with the match day squad already depleted with the injuries of Jones, Smalling, Fosu-Mensah, Rojo, Zlatan and Pogba, to name just a few, they could now add Shaw and Eric Bailly to that list, who was forced off just before the hour mark with a knee injury.
With Darmian coming on to replace the injured centre back the home side had a real makeshift feel about them and Swansea were keen to take advantage of it. They continued to press, delivering a number of dangerous balls in to the box that United managed to deal with but a goal was coming.
As the game neared the final ten minutes Rooney clumsily barged in to Ayew a couple of yards outside the box and Sigurdsson stepped up to take the resulting free kick. If he was in training he probably would have placed the ball in that exact spot. Herrera ran back to take up a position just inside the post but then seemed to change his mind, rushing out to the wall just as Sigurdsson placed the ball exactly where the Spaniard had been standing seconds before. It was a classy finish from a brilliant player and no more than Swansea deserved.
The sides exchanged a couple of half chances as they both pushed for a winner with Swansea’s Llorente having the best of them but in the end the team from Wales would have to settle for a draw. A fine result for the relegation threatened side and a lifeline in their bid for Premier League survival. For United it was yet another opportunity missed and surely the end to their hopes of a top four finish.
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