Report: Top four becoming out of reach after Swansea draw


Manchester United drew 1-1 with relegation contenders Swansea City with Wayne Rooney scoring a late first half penalty and Gylfi Sigurdsson equalising with a sublime free-kick late in the second half. United lost both Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly to injury, which looks to thwart Jose Mourinho’s side this season. United might be out of chances to firm their position in the race for top four this season, seemingly seeing winning the Europa League as their main chance of Champions League football next season.

Jose Mourinho made four changes to the team which started against Manchester City on Thursday evening with Ashley Young, Luke Shaw, Jesse Lingard and Wayne Rooney all returning to the starting XI against Swansea City. United started the game well, maintaining possession and getting into advanced areas, before losing the ball. Marcus Rashford seemed lively from the off, the realistic chance of a goal from United today. In the third minute of the match, United won a free kick after Eric Bailly was fouled in his own area. Wayne Rooney made his 650th start for club and country, which is an achievement. Ki Sung-Yeung had a chance in the sixth minute, which was off target and over the crossbar. United needed to take control of the game.

United won another free-kick with Bailly being fouled by Jordan Ayew, then moments later, it looked as if Luke Shaw was unable to continue, clutching his leg. Shaw was replaced by Antonio Valencia. After the change, Ashley Young was moved to the left-back role, with Valencia playing on the right. United’s early momentum seemed to have disappeared with Swansea trying to take charge of the match. A clearance by Bailly was latched onto by Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose shot hit the side netting. Lucky for United, who seem to be dejected and looking for a break. In the 14th minute of the match, Fernando Llorente, who was in an offside position, had a chance on goal, which was saved by David De Gea. No flag for the offside, pathetic officiating, again.

Marcus Rashford broke forward in the 15th minute of the match, breaking through on goal but he was fouled by Leon Britton, with United being awarded a free-kick. Daley Blind took the kick, the first real attacking opportunity for the home side, hitting his shot wide of the mark, unable to find a teammate in the box. Jesse Lingard has a great chance inside the 17th minute, breaking through one-on-one against the Swansea goalkeeper, who thwarted the chance, giving United a corner, which came to nothing, but United still had possession. Swansea earned themselves a free-kick for a foul on Ayew by Anthony Martial, who was booked. Swansea had another chance to capitalise from a set-piece, United’s defending was poor, the clearance even worse. Young was fouled for a United free-kick.

United had a good spell in the match with Lingard gaining possession, going on a run with some help from Martial, Rooney, and Valencia, which saw Young gain possession on the left, crossing in to Rooney, who headed over the crossbar. It was a bright spell from United, but more needs to be done. United gave away another free-kick with Ki seeming fouled, but he looked to have made a meal of it. Sigurdsson took the kick, which was straight to De Gea. Swansea still pressuring United, though, which needs to change in order for United to get something from this match. In the 31st minute, a brilliant run from Martial as he cut into the box, leaving Naughton behind as he curled his shot towards the goal but Fabianski kept it out then Lingard tried for the tap-in. Close for United.

Rooney and Rashford played some good football in the 35th minute, breaking through with Swansea giving away a corner, taken by Rashford with Michael Carrick putting it out for a goal kick. Swansea seemed to be playing like a team in the top half of the table, with United playing like the team which could be relegated. There were some bright spells around the 40th minute for both teams, neither able to get the goal needed. Lingard was booked in the 44th minute for a challenge. In the final minute of the half, Rashford broke through, passed to Martial, who had to pick out Lingard, with Swansea clearing it. Two minutes of added time at the end of the first half. United won a penalty after Fabianski took out Rashford in the box. Rooney took the penalty, scoring his 252nd goal. 1-0 to United.

The second half started with no changes from either side. United look to continue where the first half ended, maintaining possession and aiming to score a second goal. Ander Herrera got forward, passed to Rooney, who was waiting in the box. It should have been 2-0 to United, but it seemed the ball hit the back of Martial’s legs, which will save Swansea’s blushes. United need more of this, no surrender football. Swansea are in the relegation zone because of the way they have played throughout the season, not just because of a penalty decision against them in this match. Blaming this match for them being in their position would be ludicrous. United looked bright with Rashford getting forward, winning the first chase of the ball, but not the second as it went out for a goal kick. Eric Bailly is another injury woe for United after pulling up minutes after a challenge.

Eric Bailly is another injury woe for United after pulling up minutes after a challenge. Matteo Darmian replaced Bailly in the 60th minute of the match, with United having to make two defensive changes for two defensive injuries. After the change, United went on the attack with Martial firing a shot towards goal and Fabianski somehow keeping it out of the back of the net. United may seem depleted, but they are still a force to reckon with. Moments later, Rashford broke through, crossing across the face of the goal with no United player in sight. Opportunity wasted, but Rashford was right to do that in order to show the fact he is not being supported like he should in advanced areas. Swansea suffered an injury blow to Jefferson Montero six minutes after coming on.

Swansea City equalised in the 79th minute of the match through Gylfi Sigurdsson, sending the ball over Young in the United wall. United have it all to do again, with seemingly nothing left in terms of creativity. Henrikh Mkhitaryan replaced Rooney after Swansea’s goal. United have a lengthy injury list at this stage of the season with Eric Bailly, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Chris Smalling, Luke Shaw and Timothy Fosu-Mensah, which leaves them in a dire situation with a UEFA Europa League semi-final first leg in Spain on Thursday evening. Lingard had a chance to put United ahead again, with the header, but Fabianski thwarted his attempt on goal.

United won another free kick which also saw Federico Fernandez being booked for a challenge on Martial. Rashford took the free kick, going for goal, but just wide of the target. United look set to break a record with 25 matches unbeaten, with this draw taking the sense of achievement from it. Six minutes were added at the end of the second half but Swansea were on the attack with a free kick, which could have seen Fernando Llorente score the winner for the visitors. De Gea caught the ball though. United were immediately on the attack through Martial, which was dispossessed in the Swansea half. Martial has the ball in the box, winning a corner for United, which amounted to nothing. The match ended 1-1 with United’s chances of top four slipping away, especially if Manchester City (this afternoon) and Liverpool (Monday evening), both win.

The match ended 1-1 with United’s chances of top four slipping away, especially if Manchester City (this afternoon) and Liverpool (Monday evening), both win. UEFA Europa League or bust might be the only option for Jose Mourinho’s side.

Goals: Wayne Rooney 45+3′

Manchester United: De Gea; Young, Bailly (Darmian 61′), Blind, Shaw (Valencia 9′); Carrick, Herrera; Lingard, Rooney (Mkhitaryan 80′), Martial; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Tuanzebe; Mata, McTominay

Bookings: Anthony Martial 18′, Jesse Lingard 44′

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