Manchester United’s frustrating start to the season continued after a 0-0 draw with Burnley at Turf Moor.
Having weathered an early storm, Louis van Gaal’s side dominated possession but were unable to capitalise with Robin van Persie going closest for the Reds just after the break when his shot was cleared off the line. United also had two strong penalty appeals overlooked when Ashley Young was seemingly shoved over in the area and late on when the same player’s shot hit namesake Ashley Barnes on the arm.
Angel Di Maria was named in the United starting line-up to make an immediate debut following his British-record transfer from Real Madrid earlier in the week, with Wayne Rooney captaining the Reds on his 400th start.
The vociferous Turf Moor crowd was almost celebrating a goal as early as the third minute, after Phil Jones brought down Lukas Jutkiewicz on the edge of the area. Former United midfielder David Jones stepped up to take the resulting free-kick, and saw his curling effort come crashing back off the bar. Jutkiewicz was the Clarets’ most potent threat early on, and found himself one-on-one with David De Gea just seconds later, but the Spaniard stood tall to avert the danger.
Equally keen to impress was Di Maria, whose perfectly-weighted ball to van Persie created a great opening on 14 minutes. The striker brought the ball down before hitting a shot which was well saved by another former Red, Clarets goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
United’s new signing was looking sharp on his debut, and was soon involved again as his low cross from the left picked out Juan Mata in the Burnley area, but the Spanish midfielder slipped as he prepared to shoot.
Confusion in the defence at the other end enabled Jones to again go close to giving Burnley the lead, but De Gea was ready for his 20-yard volley.
Both sides appealed in vain for penalties before the break, as Young and then Danny Ings were muscled off the ball inside the opposite boxes.
After the restart, the Reds came out on the front foot, and again looked to Di Maria for inspiration. The midfielder’s burst into the area was picked up by Rooney, but Jason Shackell’s last-ditch tackle prevented a debut goal. With United applying pressure, Di Maria got the better of Keiran Trippier by the corner flag, and did well to squeeze the ball out towards Rooney. After Burnley failed to clear, the ball eventually fell for van Persie, whose shot was cleared off the line by Marney.
Burnley, meanwhile, continued to attack with purpose on the break and had a decent chance on 68 minutes when Matt Taylor found space in the United area. The midfielder’s low shot was easily collected by De Gea, in what was a rare opportunity for the hosts.
With time running out, Di Maria and van Persie were replaced by Anderson and Danny Welbeck, and Januzaj later came on for Mata. The latter had previously been involved in a move which led to Rooney heading wide at the far post.
The second half ended in controversy as Young’s effort appeared to strike the hand of Ashley Barnes. The referee again ignored the protests and the last chance of this being a first competitive win for van Gaal’s United was gone.