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Manchester United and Chelsea played out a 0-0 draw on Monday night at Old Trafford.
The fixture marked the first time that David Moyes locked horns with Jose Mourinho as Manchester United manager, but neither tactician could gain the psychological upper hand, although the draw puts Chelsea a point clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.
Oscar tried to prise open a tight United defence in a first half that was high on endeavour but low on goalmouth action but twice passed up decent opportunities with shots that were fired straight at David de Gea. Robin van Persie had United's best effort of the first period when he hit the side-netting from inside the area.
The second half followed a similar pattern and England forward Danny Welbeck will rue digging an effort wide after excellent approach play from Wayne Rooney. Moyes named Rooney in his starting XI for the first time this season, with Ryan Giggs dropping to the bench to allow for his inclusion. Chelsea started the game without an out-and-out striker in their line-up, with Andre Schurrle chosen to lead the line. Kevin De Bruyne was also given the nod as Juan Mata and Demba Ba were omitted from the side.
It was the away side who had the first chance in the 10th minute when a low De Bruyne cross rebounded to Oscar who struck his effort straight at De Gea. Chelsea had managed to quash the threat Van Persie for the opening 20 minutes but the Dutchman had United's first meaningful effort. Michael Carrick dispossessed Ramires in midfield and Van Persie picked up the loose ball on the edge of the box but went too wide before firing his effort against the side-netting.
Rooney then had his first attempt on goal, showing a neat piece of skill to feint inside Gary Cahill but his shot from 20 yards rolled harmlessly to Petr Cech. United were beginning to enjoy more of the ball and in the 38th minute Phil Jones's low cross was only half-cleared by John Terry and Cleverley hit a first-time shot from 20-yards that narrowly cleared the crossbar. The half ended with a weak shot from Oscar after a series of neat passes in the Chelsea midfield.
After a slow start to the second half, United should came close to taking the lead after 56 minutes. Rooney showed good control just outside the area before slipping a neat through-ball to Welbeck. But the striker chipped his effort over from 10 yards. Cahill was unlucky with a 30-yard drive that De Gea got down well to save, while at the other end Rooney almost had the last say late on when he tested Cech with a strong 25-yard effort. But in the end both sides had to settle for a point apiece.
Manchester United manager David Moyes: “We played well. I'm disappointed we didn’t get a goal from it, maybe we lacked a little bit of cutting edge, with our final pass, our final cross tonight. But it was tough, Chelsea defended well, but if anyone shaded the best chances it was certainly us.
"We went with three centre-forwards to try and make sure we won the game and we did everything we could, but maybe lacked a ball to get Robin van Persie away with a chance to score or give Danny Welbeck an opportunity. We had one or two close calls but it just wasn’t going to go in tonight.
"There’s no shame if that’s the way you decide to play [not to lose]. You can play football in many ways, but all I know is we tried to go out there, we tried to win but we just couldn’t get that final moment, that final pass to get us the goal."
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho: “The result is fair, nobody did enough to be better than their opponent. We controlled the match for most of the time. For a match at Old Trafford they didn’t have a real chance. We had very creative players in attack, very creative players in attack, but the way we were leaving the defensive block when we recovered the ball possession was not the best. We lost simple passes, we made lots of mistakes, immediately we recovered the ball. So in terms of attack we didn’t give what we could and what we should.
"I told my players before the game, we want to win this match, we try to win, but if we don’t win we don’t lose. And at the end the players looked tired and they took up more defensive positions. My tactics worked well because we didn’t create more chances not because of the system but because when we recovered the ball we lost so many passes. I can count six or seven passes we could have made on the counter-attack that would have changed things.
"We both wanted to win but we both didn’t want to lose. It was a real, big, big, big match. At the end of the day we have six points from two home games but other teams have lost points, Arsenal three, United two, us two."
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