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Misfiring Manchester United punished in tale of two keepers

Only themselves to blame. Misfiring Manchester United punished in tale of two keepers
Lee Grant's heroics and David de Gea's late error led to United dropping two points as their lack of consistency saw them fall away from the Premier League leaders

Jose Mourinho insisted in the build-up to Sunday’s clash with Stoke City that he needs more time to get things the way he wants them at Manchester United. And, after Joe Allen made the most of an error by David de Gea to earn a 1-1 draw, his assertion that United are nowhere near the finished article is clear for all to see.

After Anthony Martial had come off the bench to give them the lead with 21 minutes to go, this was a game they should have been able to see out with something to spare. Instead, their normally-reliable goalkeeper – Player of the Year for three seasons running – spilled what seemed a straight-forward save and they were made to pay.
But, while De Gea will be thrust under the spotlight in a game when his opposite number Lee Grant earned countless plaudits, there must also be questions as to how United did not have the game dead and buried by half-time just as they had against Leicester City eight days ago.

Their first-half performance was a repeat of that display in all but the scoreline as they scythed through Stoke time and again but couldn’t put the chances away. Zlatan Ibrahimovic could have given them the lead inside two minutes after superb play by Paul Pogba, but gave Grant a chance by firing towards the near post instead of the far. Both he and Pogba had further chances later in the first half but couldn’t deliver.

Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard were also denied by the brilliance in goal of Grant as Stoke hung on at times, and it seemed only a matter of time before United broke the deadlock. But, after Stoke started the second period well, there seemed to be a feeling around Old Trafford that United might have spurned their chance of collecting all three points until Mourinho made the changes which threw the game back in the Reds’ favour.
Two minutes after the Portuguese brought on Martial and Rooney, the former's attempted one-two with his fellow substitute was cut out by Geoff Cameron but the Frenchman lashed the loose ball home superbly to bring the Theatre of Dreams to its feet. They were back on their knees eight minutes from time when De Gea failed to hold Glen Johnson’s deflected shot, Jonathan Walters’ effort was screwed onto the bar and then Allen blasted into an empty net.
United could still have won it, with Pogba heading against the bar from Marcus Rashford’s 89th-minute cross, but it was the chances missed before the break which came back to bite them.
Last week they looked as clinical as they have in a long time, but today they missed more chances than they could have wished to create in the first place. As their fans file out of the stadium, they will wonder how their side did not win the game.

The consistency shown at the top of the league by Manchester City is not being replicated on this side of town.