Report: United 0 Watford 0
Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw against a stubborn Watford side in Saturday afternoon's Premier League clash at Old Trafford
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick made four changes to his line-up to face the Hornets from the Reds XI who had started the draw against Atletico Madrid in midweek, but a stalemate on this occasion wasn't quite as welcome as Wednesday's spoils were in Europe.
A first-half display by the Reds promised much, with chances being racked up, but Watford were dogged and went on to survive some United golden opportunities across the 90 minutes to take home a valuable point while putting a dent in United's push for a Champions League qualification spot.
FIRST HALF - BRUNO LEADS THE REDS' PURSUIT
With Harry Maguire on the bench, Bruno Fernandes took on the captain’s role and was certainly prominent in the opening half hour as he chased his 50th goal for the Reds. Inspired by the armband, Fernandes will have been thinking that he should have strolled past the personal half-century mark within half an hour, as he had a big influence on United's early chances.
His fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo had the first effort, however, after just four minutes, but hit the post with his sweeping right-foot shot following a move constructed by Nemanja Matic and Anthony Elanga.
Then Bruno took centre stage. After nine minutes, he dummied the Watford defence twice before letting go with a drive that hit Ronaldo in the penalty box. Three minutes later, Ronaldo and Elanga were the source of the next move that fed Fernandes, but ex-Red goalkeeper Ben Foster got an arm to his close-range strike when a goal looked a cert.
Ronaldo had a goal chalked off for offside in the 15th minute before Bruno was causing problems for the Hornets once again. A Paul Pogba cross was on the money for Fernandes as he stole in ahead of the Watford defence, but the Portuguese midfielder volleyed just wide.
After 27 minutes, Ronaldo clipped a cross for a waiting Fernandes in the box, but the latter steered his header off target. Alex Telles then came close after 37 minutes when Bruno and Ronaldo handed over free-kick duties to the Brazilian, following a Samir foul on Pogba. His set piece flew inches wide.
There were loud appeals for a penalty in the 42nd minute when Elanga and former Red Craig Cathcart came together, but referee Kevin Friend waved away Matic’s pleas and the breakthrough that had looked so threatening and promising early on hadn't yet arrived as referee Kevin Friend blew for half-time.
SECOND HALF - UNITED HELD AS CHANCES DRY UP
Watford had offered little in front of goal in the first half but came close within the opening moments of the second 45, when Samir headed narrowly wide from a corner. United's dominance in the chance column then resumed, with our first following the interval falling to Elanga after Pogba's neat flick diverted a ball from Fred into his path, but after a touch to steady himself, the youngster saw his low left-footed effort veer just off target.
There was then another appeal for a penalty in the 55th minute, when Ronaldo went down under a challenge from Hassane Kamara. Referee Friend again didn’t see a problem and neither did VAR after a look at the incident.
Having unfortunately got in the way of a Fernandes shot in the first half, Ronaldo then saw his effort in the 61st minute hit Elanga following great work on the byline by Bruno. The two then combined again, with Foster gobbling up the latest chance in the 67th minute, as the Portuguese midfielder's cross appeared to come off his countryman's chest and almost roll in at the far post, only for the goalkeeper's intervention. Shortly after, another chance went by as Aaron Wan-Bissaka headed wide.
Rangnick rallied the Old Trafford crowd late on as our mission to find the go-ahead goal continued. Substitute Jadon Sancho almost curled in a superb late winner against his former club, but his 90th-minute shot from 20 yards went just over the crossbar, before Fernandes planted a long ranger into Foster's arms in stoppage time.
In the third and final minute of the added-on period, Watford's Ismaila Sarr came close with his own piledriver from the edge of the penalty area, but it whistled just past David De Gea's posts, with the referee confirming the stalemate seconds later.
Points shared at Old TraffordGallery
Scroll through our collection of the best action shots from this afternoon's Premier League game against Watford.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Varane, Telles (Shaw 73); Matic (Rashford 73), Fernandes (c), Fred (Sancho 62); Elanga, Ronaldo, Pogba.
Subs not used: Henderson, Dalot, Jones, Maguire, Mata, Lingard.
Watford: Foster; Ngakia (Kabasele 62), Cathcart, Samir, Kamara; Louza, Sissoko (c), Louza, Cleverley (Kucka 80); Sarr, Dennis, King (Sema 62).
Subs not used: Bachmann, Troost-Ekong, Joao Pedro, Masina, Hernandez, Kayembe.