Manchester United’s pursuit for a top-four place faltered after a stubborn West Brom side frustrated the Reds in a goalless draw at Old Trafford.

Despite having over 70 per cent of the possession, the hosts failed to break down a well-organised Baggies defence, with ex-Reds Ben Foster and Jonny Evans performing well. Another United old boy, Darren Fletcher, actually came closest to scoring when David De Gea palmed a speculative shot onto the bar.

Boss Jose Mourinho was forced to make three changes to his United starting XI after the injuries to Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and the further blow that Juan Mata required surgery on a groin injury, meaning Marcos Rojo, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial all came in. In the first of nine games this month, Mourinho’s men knew there was no time for ‘fooling’ around on April Fools’ day as United looked to keep the pressure on towards the top and it was the Reds who had virtually all of the ball in the early stages, but with no real cutting edge to the play.

The first effort at goal came from Jesse Lingard on 10 minutes as the ball rebounded to him after good work from Martial, but the man who scored a wonder-goal against Middlesbrough could not repeat the feat, firing over from 25 yards. It took 15 further minutes for a slight glimpse at goal as captain for the day, Michael Carrick, fed Lingard but his dangerous ball across the area evaded everyone.

Martial then headed inches wide at the back post following an Antonio Valencia cross as United looked to unlock a stubborn, yet well-organised Tony Pulis side.

West Brom who beat Arsenal last time out, frustrated United in the first period, camped with 11 players behind the ball and offered virtually nothing in attack. The second half could only get better.

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