Manchester United couldn't break the deadlock against Hull
After giving Manchester United a tough time in the two League Cup semi-final legs, Marco Silva’s much-improved team set about frustrating them again in their third encounter in 23 days.
Tuesday’s results gave United a golden chance to close the gap on the top four. Jose Mourinho’s men went into the game well aware that victory would have left them just three points adrift of second place.
But three superb saves by goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic and some dogged defending by the men in front of him sentenced United to a night of frustration – and a ninth draw of the season, six of them at Old Trafford.
Jakupovic stopped efforts Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba in the first half and then produced a point-blank stop from substitute Juan Mata midway through the second half.
Hull’s new manager Silva has been called a mini-Mourinho and you can see why with the way he has transformed the Tigers in his short spell in charge.
Eldin Jakupovic was in fine form for Hull
As expected, Mourinho has made wholesale changes – nine in all from Sunday’s FA Cup win over Wigan – but United are making something of a habit of producing a low-key first half.
They had not been great before half-time in any of their previous five games and it was the same story in a goal-less first period last night.
They enjoyed the bulk of possession but, just as in the two League Cup semi-final legs, Hull provided stubborn resistance with goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic making two superb saves.
He dived across his goal to tip round Ibrahimovic’s 25-yard effort as it arrowed towards the corner of the net.
Later in the half, he acrobatically turned Pogba’s goal-bound effort over the top after Ibrahimovic had created the chance by flicking on a pass from Michael Carrick.
Oumar Niasse was lucky to escape with a yellow card at Old Trafford
Andrew Robertson had ecratinly set the tone for Hull’s determined defending by making a vital interception to stop Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring from Ander Herrera’s pass in only the third minute.
Marcos Rojo and Daley Blind were both off target with a header and volley respectively as United underlined the area Mourinho will no doubt address this summer – a greater cutting edge to turn possession into goals.
Hull looked composed when they had the ball but failed to trouble keeper David De Gea before the break. Wayne Rooney came on for Carrick at the break and United increased the tempo.
Pogba twice hit superb long passes over the top of the Hull defence that deserved to be converted.
Ibrahimovic just couldn’t control the first one and the chance was gone. Marcus Rashford did control the second but ruhed his shot and scuffed the ball wide of the post.
A blow for United came when Phil Jones, who has been in fine form since returning from a long spell out, limped off.
Niasse, booked in the first half, was lucky to escape a second caution and dismissal with a bad late tackle on Blind.
Manchester United player ratings: Who impressed against Hull?
Wed, February 1, 2017
Express Sport brings you Manchester United's player ratings from their clash against Hull at Old Trafford
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Who impressed for Manchester United against Hull?
Mourinho’s frustration was evident when he remonstrated with the fourth official over Hull’s time-wasting.
He held his head in his hands when Mata looked certain to score at the far post from Smalling’s header but Jakupovic somehow blocked his effort ton the line.
United threw everything forward to get a late winner but Hull put bodies on the line to hold out for one of the surprise results of the season.
United appealed in vain for a penalty when Ibrahimovic went down in the box under Huddlestone’s challenge but the striker was looking for the contact and referee Mike Jones wasn’t fooled.
United’s hearts were in their mouths when Liverpool loanee Lazar Markovic was inches away from grabbing a shock 86th-minyte winner.
Huddlestone found him inside the area and took a touch before beating De Gea with his shot only to see the ball hit the inside of the post.
Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Valencia 7, Jones 7 (Smalling 54, 6), Rojo 7, Blind 6; Herrera 6, Carrick 6 (Rooney 46, 7); Mkhitaryan 6 (Mata 61, 6), Pogba 6, Rahsford 6; Ibrahimovic 6. NEXT UP: Leicester (a), Sun PL.
Hull (4-5-1): Jakupovic 8; Meyler 7, Dawson 6, Maguire 6, Robertson 6; Tymon 6 (Ranocchia 66, 5), Huddlestone 7, Markovic 5, Evandro 6 (Elabdellaoui 72, 5), Clucas 6; Niasse 6 (Hernandez 69, 5). Booked: Niasse, Clucas. NEXT UP: Liverpool (h), Sat PL.
Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).