Manchester United’s already slim Premier League title hopes were dealt a blow as they were held to a goalless draw in a drab encounter at Crystal Palace.
The visitors dominated possession but struggled to create many meaningful chances, with Nemanja Matic going closest in the first half when he brought out a decent save from Vicente Guaita.
Palace did not manage a shot on target until early in the second half when Jordan Ayew fired straight at keeper Dean Henderson after a good one-two with Christian Benteke.
But the hosts almost pinched it right at the end when Patrick van Aanholt was put in on goal, but he was denied by Henderson.
The draw means Manchester United are 14 points behind leaders and local rivals Manchester City before the two sides meet on Sunday.
The point for Crystal Palace moved them on to 34 points and 11 points clear of the relegation zone as Roy Hodgson’s side edge closer to securing another season of Premier League football.
A poor result before crucial period for Red Devils
This is the start of a potentially season-defining month for Manchester United. After facing their city rivals on Sunday, they have games against AC Milan in the Europa League, as well as an FA Cup quarter-final at Leicester.
It was, therefore, important they made a strong start to March. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have only lost once in the Premier League since 1 November, but too many of their recent games have ended in draws.
This was a match they really needed to win to keep up the pressure on Manchester City, but they were far from their best as they displayed a severe lack of creativity.
Even Bruno Fernandes, so often their attacking spark having contributed to 25 goals this season, was below par as he struggled to make an impact on Wednesday’s game.
Indeed, for large periods of this fixture the increasing thickness of the fog that had descended over Selhurst Park was the most exciting thing to develop, as Manchester United played out their third goalless draw in a row.
The lack of attacking threat will surely be a growing concern for Solskjaer going into a crucial period of their season.
Palace grind out an important point
It is well documented that Crystal Palace struggle to pose much of an attacking threat without Wilfried Zaha in their side, and they had managed just six attempts on goal over their past two matches before Wednesday.
However, despite their lack of bite, they are well organised and difficult to break down under Hodgson and rarely looked in danger of losing to United.
The Eagles successfully nullified any threat the visitors could pose and, while chances were also few and far between for themselves, they did come closest to taking all three points with Van Aanholt’s late opportunity.
Despite the absence of Zaha, Palace have ground out five points from their past three games and that has them well on the way to a mid-table finish, avoiding any late concerns of being dragged into a relegation battle.
Goalless again – the stats
- This was Manchester United’s sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint most in a campaign, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.
- Crystal Palace have now drawn back-to-back Premier League games 0-0 for the first time since December 2017.
- United have drawn three consecutive matches 0-0 for the first time since October 2015 under Louis van Gaal, with the third game in that run a goalless draw at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace.
- Manchester United are the fifth English top-flight team to remain unbeaten in their first 14 away league matches of a season, after Leeds United in 1973-74, Liverpool in 1987-88 and Arsenal in both 2001-02 and 2003-04.
- This was United attacking midfielder Fernandes’ 21st away Premier League match – and he is yet to lose one. Only Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus (26) and former Arsenal keeper Jens Lehmann (23) have had a longer unbeaten away starts in the competition.
- Crystal Palace had more shots in Wednesday’s match (eight) than they had managed in their previous two league games combined (six).
Crystal Palace travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (19:15 GMT), while Manchester United are at Manchester City earlier on the same day (16:30).
- 3van Aanholt
- 22McCarthySubstituted forRiedewaldat 62′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 25EzeSubstituted forSchluppat 84′minutes
- 9J Ayew
- 17FredSubstituted forMcTominayat 74′minutes
- 18Bruno Fernandes
- 7CavaniSubstituted forJamesat 76′minutes
Match ends, Crystal Palace 0, Manchester United 0.
Second Half ends, Crystal Palace 0, Manchester United 0.
Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Scott McTominay (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace).
Offside, Manchester United. Luke Shaw tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Luka Milivojevic.
Attempt missed. Luke Shaw (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes with a headed pass.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Joel Ward.
Substitution, Crystal Palace. Jeffrey Schlupp replaces Eberechi Eze.
Foul by Luke Shaw (Manchester United).
Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt missed. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Bruno Fernandes.
Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Patrick van Aanholt.
Attempt missed. Daniel James (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Luke Shaw with a cross.
Eric Bailly (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace).
Substitution, Manchester United. Daniel James replaces Edinson Cavani.
Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Fred.
Offside, Manchester United. Harry Maguire tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.