Report: Rashford and Lukaku strike to earn a draw at Stoke; Manchester United still top the Premier League


Manchester United drew 2-2 with Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday evening. The Jose Mourinho Out brigade will rear their ugly heads again as they concentrate on the results rather than how their team plays, probably because they don’t actually watch matches. Maxim Choupo-Moting opened the scoring with United, through Marcus Rashford levelling the score before the end of the first half. United took the lead in the 57th minute of the match through Romelu Lukaku, scoring his fifth goal for United before Choupo-Moting scored again to deny United the victory. It is another dark day on Stoke for United, another match without a win but more importantly a match without a defeat which still keeps United at the top of the Premier League, albeit on goal difference.

Jose Mourinho made a few changes with Matteo Darmian and Ander Herrera making their first starts for United this season. Marouane Fellaini received a knock during the international break whilst playing for Belgium and Daley Blind is on the bench. United started well, getting a chance in the opening stages but it not coming to fruition. Stoke had a good start also with Jese Rodriguez getting in behind United’s defence with his shot just wide of the target, luckily for United. Stoke has been doing well in the opening stages of the match but United’s defence were more than a match.

Paul Pogba was drifting around the midfield in the 11th minute of the match, actually getting all over the pitch, dropping back and putting passes over the top for Romelu Lukaku. It was all passing by United at this stage, but the players lacked any real threat for the home side. Stoke had the chance then to create something through Maxim Choupo-Moting winning the ball in the left corner, putting in a deep cross with Mame Biram Diouf pressuring Matteo Darmian, the Italian heading away. United were not doing much in the final third, which is where they needed to be doing everything they could to command the match.

Choupo-Moting caught David De Gea off his line in the 19th minute of the match, whacking his volley goalwards from 35 yards, doing absolutely nothing for the home side to take the lead early in the match. In the 20th minute, Lukaku got down the right, putting in a low cross which was flicked goalwards by Pogba, Kurt Zouma blocking the Frenchman’s effort. Mourinho has not won in any of his last three visits to Stoke as a manager, obviously wanting to leave the bet365 Stadium with three points in the bag today. In the 25th minute, Marcus Rashford burst through the defensive line was played in by Eric Bailly. Rashford had a shot from an angle but Jack Butland thwarted his effort.

In the 27th minute, Stoke had another effort, this time through Xherdan Shaqiri, shooting from 25-yards with De Gea making the save. Rashford had a chance a minute later, finding some space in the box with his snap-shot but Butland did well to deny him with Lukaku trying to get the ball and being flagged for offside. Shaqiri had another chance, De Gea making the save. United then started to find their game, having plenty of chances through Rashford but with Stoke so far denying them from scoring a goal whether through Butland or Zouma. The game started to slow a little after the chances.

In the 34th minute of the match, Antonio Valencia got in behind the right channel and put in a decent cross but it had too much on it for Lukaku to get to the end of. United won a free-kick after Darren Fletcher fouled Pogba. Nemanja Matic took the free-kick, it going direct and being put out the box easily by Stoke after a poor delivery by the Serbian. Stoke started making it difficult for United with their defending and it started something with Choupo-Moting breaking the deadlock in the 44th minute of the match, United’s first goal conceded in the Premier League season so far.

Two minutes were added at the end of the first half. United levelled the score with what seemed to be a Pogba goal, which actually came off Marcus Rashford. The half ended 1-1 with all to play for in the second half. United are back at the top of the league, albeit through goal difference at the break. Mourinho will be looking for his side to go all out for the win in the second half which could see Anthony Martial coming off the bench, which was the case in the first two matches of the season, seeing United dominate scoring multiple quick goals late in the second half of their first two matches, both 4-0 scorelines.

At the start of the second half Stoke match the change bringing on Bruno Martens Indi with Geoff Cameron coming off. In the opening few minutes of the second half, United looked bright with Rashford nearly released and through on goal. Lukaku’s pass was collected by Stoke with the Belgian trying to get the ball back, fouling Joe Allen. Rashford was looking lively, playing a pass to Henrikh Mkhitaryan on the advance, who was flagged for offside. United looking a little better but changes may be needed to really change the game. In the 57th minute of the match after some good play, United took the lead through Romelu Lukaku after Darmian created the attacking play. Lukaku missed with his first shot with Butland making the save, the Belgian getting in with his second shot. 2-1 to United.

The lead was short-lived for United with Choupo-Moting levelling in the 64th minute of the match with De Gea unable to make the save and United’s defence not doing their jobs. Moments before, United made the save through De Gea, thwarting the effort moments before Stoke’s second goal of the match. United have it all to do again. Just five minutes and 42 seconds stood between United’s second goal and Stoke’s equaliser. United nearly took the lead again through Valencia with his shot slightly wide of the target. Jose Mourinho made his first changes of the match with Juan Mata and Anthony Martial replacing Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera. Stoke made their second change with Saido Berahino coming on for Rodriguez.

United had a chance to take the lead again in the 77th minute through Pogba whose effort about 30-yards away from goal was hit straight at Butland. Stoke did have plenty of players behind the ball, which was making it difficult for United. Lukaku had a chance in the 81st minute of the match with Martial setting the Belgian up, hitting the ball with his ankle and the ball going over the crossbar. United were doing much of the pressing, not having much success. Pogba fouled Allen with Stoke getting a free-kick. United were immediately on the attack through Mata and Lukaku, Stoke getting back to deny United from a clear chance. Mourinho made his third and final change in the 84th minute with Jesse Lingard replacing Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

United won a free-kick through Mata in the final minute of the match at the edge of the box. Martial had played a decent cross into the box moments before, United not doing anything with it because of the foul. Stoke have a strong wall, which is where Lukaku’s attempt went. Stoke tried to turn it into a counter attacking play, but United regained possession. United had another chance with Phil Jones getting a touch of the ball with Butland making a last-ditch save to deny United from scoring. United tried to get something from the game with plenty of chances coming in the final minutes of the match, Pogba having the last chance. t was a 2-2 draw for United, gone is their 100% record at the start of the season, but they are undefeated but still winless at Stoke.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 45+1′, Romelu Lukaku 57′

Assists: Paul Pogba 45+1′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Darmian; Herrera (Mata 72′), Matic; Mkhitaryan (Lingard 84′), Pogba, Rashford (Martial 72′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Smalling, Blind; Carrick

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