By Kiran Thakare
- Rooney and Martial return to starting line-up
- United need to win final group game in Germany to reach last 16
Manchester United suffered a huge setback in their quest to the qualification for the round of sixteen in Champions League on matchday five.
They were held to a goalless draw by PSV Eindhoven at Old Trafford. United missed a golden opportunity to wrap up the group stages as a win could have sent them through to the next round. The Red Devils sit second in the group table and need a result against Wolfsburg in the final group stage match in Germany to go through.
Louis Van Gaal made numerous changes to the team that faced Watford at the weekend. Ashley Young made way for Matteo Darmian in the back four. Wayne Rooney and Anthony Martial were back in the starting eleven for Ander Herrera and Juan Mata after missing out against Watford due to illness and injury respectively.
United started the half on the front foot as they kept the ball well. The midfield of Morgan Schneiderlin and Bastian Schweinsteiger played numerous diagonal balls across the field to find Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard on the flanks.
The first big chance fell for Lingard when Anthony Martial provided a nice dummy from Rooney’s squared ball which left Lingard with a clear chance to beat the keeper.
The Old Trafford side kept on pressing ahead as Schneiderlin came very close to score from a corner delivered by Daley Blind only for the PSV keeper to scoop it just before it crosses the line.
The front four of Rooney ,Lingard, Memphis and Martial were showing nice link-up play between them. Martial tried to beat the PSV keeper on the near post as his shot was saved twice before the end of the first half.
The Red Devils kept a lion’s share of possession at the second half but could not break down the resilient PSV defence. Van Gaal made a double substitution by bringing Ashley Young and Marouane Fellaini for Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger respectively.
The Red Devils were often caught on counter attack by the Dutch side as they had some decent moves but could not capitalise from them. Lingard came closest to scoring in second half when Young squared a ball from the right flank only for it to be fired just above the crossbar from the 22 year old.
Apart from that there was no concrete chance for United as the intensity and urgency fell for the home side as the match went on.
Wolfsburg were able to grab a win away against Russia earlier which makes things tougher for United. The Red Devils now need a win or a draw against Wolfsburg and hope that CSKA Moscow beat PSV Eindhoven on the final match day to qualify for round of 16.
Manchester United: De Gea, Darmian (Mata 85), Smalling, Blind, Rojo, Schneiderlin, Schweinsteiger (Fellaini 58), Lingard, Rooney, Memphis (Young 58), Martial Substitutes Not Used: Romero, McNair, Pereira, Wilson
In a match where United struggled in the final third, they were very solid at the back. Smalling has been the consistent performer at the back this season but Blind performed exceptionally against PSV Eindhoven. He was clever with his positioning as he intercepted important balls and also won crucial aerial duels. He played some delicious balls forward from the back and also delivered good corners.