Manch­ester United fight back again

▶ Arse­nal ex­tend un­beaten run in four-goal thriller at Old Traf­ford

Global Times - - SPORTS -

Jose Mour­inho ac­cused his Manch­ester United play­ers of shoot­ing them­selves in the foot as he saw his un­der-strength team gift Arse­nal two goals in a 2-2 draw that ex­tended their win­less Pre­mier League run to four games.

United, who started with Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku on the bench, showed great spirit to twice come back, with equal­iz­ers from An­thony Mar­tial and Jesse Lin­gard earn­ing a much­needed point.

But, af­ter a de­feat at Manch­ester City and dispir­it­ing draws with Crys­tal Palace and Southamp­ton, United are now 18 points be­hind lead­ers City and ac­tu­ally closer to the rel­e­ga­tion po­si­tions than they are first place.

United also trail Chelsea and Arse­nal, who are now un­beaten in 20 games, by eight points in the bat­tle for a place in the top four.

And Mour­inho, who saw a bad David de Gea er­ror and Mar­cos Rojo own goal twice hand Arse­nal the lead, be­lieves the per­for­mance con­tin­ued their run of self­in­flicted harm.

“We scored four goals and we drew 2-2,” joked Mour­inho.

“But we scored four goals and even in matches like to­day where we play well, we al­ways shoot our­selves.

“Some­times we miss chances with an open goal, other times de­fen­sive mis­takes but tonight there was a fan­tas­tic spirit, good per­for­mances.”

Mour­inho’s frus­tra­tion was es­pe­cially un­der­stand­able given that Arse­nal’s open­ing goal, af­ter 26 min­utes, fea­tured that rarest of col­lec­tor’s items, a mis­take by De Gea.

Chris Smalling slipped at Lu­cas Tor­reira’s 26th-minute cor­ner, al­low­ing Mustafi the space to send a free header bounc­ing into the ground and goal­ward.

It looked a rou­tine save for United’s No.1 but he suc­ceeded only in push­ing the ball into the air, two-handed, over his own head and over the goal line, de­spite An­der Her­rera’s des­per­a­tion clear­ance.

But United re­sponded within four min­utes as Rojo, play­ing for the first time this sea­son, un­leashed a ter­rific free kick which Bernd Leno kept out at the foot of his left-hand post.

Her­rera re­sponded quickly, al­though re­plays sug­gested he may have been frac­tion­ally off­side, reach­ing the loose ball on the by­line and turn­ing it into the six-yard (5.5-me­ter) area where Mar­tial was able to con­vert.

That dra­matic pat­tern would be re­peated af­ter 68 min­utes when Arse­nal re­gained a lead they could only hold, on this oc­ca­sion, for 74 sec­onds.

La­cazette played a one-two with fel­low sub­sti­tute Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan and ad­vanced into the area where Rojo tack­led him from be­hind and suc­ceeded only in turn­ing the ball into his own net.

But there could be no fault­ing United’s re­sponse as Arse­nal pan­icked at a long ball punted for­ward, al­most di­rectly from kick­off.

Lukaku caused uncer­tainty in the vis­i­tors’ area and as Sead Ko­lasinac tried to turn the ball back to his goal­keeper, he al­lowed Lin­gard to ghost in and com­plete a sim­ple fin­ish past Leno.

Photo: VCG

Arse­nal de­fender Sokratis Pa­pas­tathopou­los jumps for a header dur­ing the Pre­mier League match against Manch­ester United at Old Traf­ford on Wed­nes­day in Manch­ester, Eng­land.

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