Manchester United were held to a goalless draw at home to West Ham United on Saturday, having spurned a string of excellent second half opportunities. However, the Hammers were just as wasteful in front of goal, and though neither side can have complaints with the result, both will be ruing their profligacy.
The first half was far from convincing from United, who initially failed to threaten the West Ham defence. The hosts' only real opportunity came when Marouane Fellaini flicked a Jesse Lingard cross down for Anthony Martial, though the Frenchman's shot was excellently blocked by Winston Reid.
Otherwise all of the good chances of the opening period were West Ham's. David de Gea was called upon to deny Victor Moses in a one-on-one after a sloppy pass by Daley Blind, before they hit the same goalpost twice in as many minutes. The first came when Chris Smalling hooked the ball against Mauro Zárate, only for the ball to bounce back against the woodwork; the second was a rather more conventional header by Reid.
The game lulled in its second quarter, though there was further frustration for United just before halftime, when Morgan Schneiderlin limped off and was replaced by Michael Carrick. Intriguingly van Gaal made another change on the other side of the interval, with young full-back Guillermo Varela handed his debut in place of Paddy McNair.
However, the Hammers remained in the ascendancy, and if anything, their dominance became all the more marked. They were presented with a gilt-edged opportunity 10 minutes after the restart, though after being flicked through on goal by Andy Carroll, Zárate somehow poked wide.
A few minutes later United finally carved a route to goal, though after a sharp interchange between Lingard and Martial, Fellaini was denied from point-blank range by an excellent Adrián save. It seemed to bring Old Trafford to life, and United finally began to settle down. Some slick passing between Martial and Juan Mata created an opening for the latter, though he fired wide.
The best chance of all came with 10 minutes left on the clock, when some excellent work from substitute Memphis Depay saw him skip through and pull a low cross back for Martial. He should've scored, but sliced his effort just wide of the West Ham goal. The match in microcosm.