Choupo-Mot­ing puts the brakes on United’s start

The Observer - Sport - - FOOTBALL - Jamie Jack­son Bet365 Sta­dium

Manch­ester United con­ceded for the first time in the Pre­mier League this sea­son and dropped their first points against an im­pres­sive Stoke City who posed ques­tions in a riv­et­ing con­test.

José Mour­inho’s side re­main lead­ers due to a su­pe­rior goal difference to Manch­ester City, who ear­lier trounced Liver­pool 5-0. United had hoped to main­tain their perfect record fol­low­ing three straight vic­to­ries but again failed to leave this venue with three points, last winning in the league here four years ago.

Stoke be­gan the bet­ter. Al­most straight from kick-off Eric Maxim Choupo-Mot­ing forced a cor­ner along the right. Xher­dan Shaqiri ad­dressed this but over­hit his ef­fort.

Stoke then slipped up in mid­field and Mar­cus Rash­ford was away. The 19-yearold flew along the in­side-right chan­nel and flicked a pass in­field. The in­tended re­cip­i­ent was Romelu Lukaku but the ball even­tu­ally came to­wards Paul Pogba yet he tan­gled with Joe Allen and ref­eree Neil Swar­brick blew for a foul.

The con­test’s high pace con­tin­ued. A long Jack But­land clear­ance went all the way to Jesé Ro­dríguez down the right. The Spa­niard ran on and when tak­ing aim beat David De Gea though not the goal­keeper’s right­hand post. Next, Choupo-Mot­ing claimed an­other cor­ner down the same flank. This time Xher­dan Shaqiri’s de­liv­ery was not too strong but too straight and De Gea col­lected.

From here, United first slowed Stoke, then ex­erted some con­trol. Mour­inho (right) had plumped for a 4-3-3 that al­lowed a hold­ing mid­fielder, An­der Her­rera, for an at­tack­ing one, Juan Mata, from the 2-0 win over Le­ices­ter City last time out.

The mid­dle tri­dent of Her­rera, Ne­manja Matic and Pogba were to the fore as United pinged passes into the front­line of Lukaku, Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan and Rash­ford. One break had Lukaku in down the right and from his cross Pogba back-heeled the ball at But­land. This won United’s open­ing cor­ner but it yielded noth­ing.

As in the 1-0 vic­tory over Arsenal in Stoke’s pre­vi­ous home league out­ing, Mark Hughes side showed an at­trac­tive flu­ency. Shaqiri floated in from his right-hand berth when fancy took him and one Stoke move ended in a shot from the Swiss for­ward that De Gea needed to watch care­fully. A few mo­ments later Shaqiri re­peated the trick by ap­pear­ing in a cen­tral area and tak­ing aim again.

For the chal­lenge of pick­ing up where United left off be­fore the in­ter­na­tional break Mour­inho made three changes. Out went Da­ley Blind, An­thony Mar­tial and Mata and in came Mat­teo Darmian, Rash­ford and Her­rera. While the man­ager had an eye on Tues­day night’s visit of Basel in the Cham­pi­ons League, Mark Hughes gave Kevin Wim­mer his Stoke de­but, for the in­jured Ryan Shawcross, and Mame Bi­ram Diouf re­placed Bruno Martins Indi.

In a furious first-half fi­nale, the lively Rash­ford forced But­land into a save from the left, An­to­nio Va­len­cia’s radar was awry with a cross, and two goals in two min­utes made the score 1-1 at the break.

Stoke sucker-punched United with a fine Choupo-Mot­ing strike. Diouf crossed the ball in from the right af­ter be­ing re­leased by a su­perb Dar­ren Fletcher pass and the for­ward fired home from close range. Yet Hughes’ side then lost con­cen­tra­tion as just mo­ments later Ne­manja Matic flicked on a Mkhi­taryan cor­ner to the un­marked Pogba and his header beat But­land via a de­flec­tion off Rash­ford’s head.

The Stoke play­ers protested about the equaliser, ar­gu­ing Rash­ford was in an off­side position. Hughes ap­peared un­happy and for the sec­ond half took off Ge­off Cameron for Bruno Martins Indi,.

United claimed this pe­riod’s first cor­ner, again due to Rash­ford’s prob­ing and though it amounted to noth­ing Mour­inho could be pleased at this be­gin­ning. The Por­tuguese will have been less happy at the way Mat­teo Darmian headed out for a cor­ner when De Gea could have col­lected the ball. From Shaqiri’s de­liv­ery an­other mix-up in the United de­fence fol­lowed which they were lucky to es­cape from.

The lead was about to be taken by United then lost in six min­utes. Allen was pick­pock­eted by Darmian and he fed Mkhi­taryan. The weight and direction of pass was sub­lime, re­mov­ing Stoke’s de­fence and putting Lukaku clear. At the sec­ond at­tempt the Bel­gian scored his fourth goal of the sea­son.

Stoke’s equaliser came from a Shaqiri cor­ner from the right. Phil Jones lost his foot­ing and Choupo-Mot­ing again fin­ished.

Eigh­teen min­utes from time Mour­inho made his move by in­tro­duc­ing Mar­tial and Mata for Rash­ford and Her­rera. United might have grabbed a late tri­umph when Lukaku snatched at a closerange chance and Pogba hooked over.

At the close Mour­inho seemed to show frus­tra­tion by ig­nor­ing Hughes when shak­ing hands with some of the Stoke staff.

Be­hind you: Keeper David De Gea can only look back as Eric Maxim Choupo-Mot­ing scores Stoke’s first goal against Manch­ester United. Richard Heath­cote/Getty Im­ages

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.