Radamel Falcao earned Manchester United a battling point as the Reds fought back from going behind early against Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.

The Colombian striker struck from close range on 26 minutes after the Reds had fallen a goal down to a neat finish from ex-United defender Ryan Shawcross.

Another former Red, Mame Biram Diouf, wasted a chance to double the lead when he shot wide, before Falcao pounced for his third strike of the season. Robin van Persie went close to putting Louis van Gaal’s men in front in the second half, but Stoke’s Peter Crouch rattled the woodwork with a header after the break.

Chances were few and far between as the game wound down, but United stood firm to extend the unbeaten run to 10 games.

Louis van Gaal reshuffled his defensive unit by bringing Luke Shaw and Chris Smalling back into the starting 11 in place of Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, but the fit-again pair were watching a former Red defender put the hosts ahead inside just two minutes. An unmarked Crouch nodded the first corner of the match down to Shawcross, who was free to divert the ball past David De Gea from close range.

United fought to shake off the early shock in the blustery conditions and dominated possession, having a half-hearted penalty appeal against Jonathan Walters for handball ignored, until Diouf wasted a golden chance to double the home side’s lead. The Senegalese shook Jonny Evans off a high ball into the area, but then missed his opportunity to score against his old club by curling the ball high and wide.

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