The Britannia Stadium has been a bogey ground for United in recent years, and that frustrating streak continued again today. Goals from Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku were sandwiched by a Eric Choupo-Moting brace, and both sides had to settle for a share of the points.
José Mourinho handed Ander Herrera his first start of the season, lining his team in a more robust 4-3-3, no doubt hoping to assert greater control in midfield. United were certainly solid in midfield, but puzzlingly brittle at the back for much of the game.
United grew into the game slowly, but by midway through the first half the Reds had started to establish dominance over proceedings. Marcus Rashford - reinstated to the starting lineup - was terrorizing the Stoke back line. He drew two saves out of Jack Butland in the space of a few minutes; the first following a brilliant Eric Bailly through ball, and the second with a sharp shot after a counter attack.
Despite dominating possession and creating a number of chances, United found themselves behind in the 44th minute. Matteo Darmian, making his season debut, allowed in a cross from United old boy Mame Biram Diouf. In the middle of the box, the exceptionally named Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting stole ahead of a dozing Bailly to put Stoke ahead.
Fortunately for United, they were able to strike back right away. Moments after the restart, the Reds won a corner, and Rashford inadvertently headed the equalizer from the resulting set piece. It was Paul Pogba’s goal in truth, as the Frenchman nodded the ball goalward, but the effort clearly came off the back of Rashford’s head. Immediately after, Romelu Lukaku almost put United head, only to be denied by Butland.
Mourinho's men started the second half as they ended the first: dominating possession and keeping Stoke under pressure, but continuing to look less than convincing in defense. Despite their vulnerability, United were soon ahead.
Jesé had a chance to lead Stoke on a counter attack, but dithered and lost possession in midfield. United now had a counter of their own, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan played in a beautifully disguised ball for Lukaku. Lukaku’s initial strike was saved, but he was quick to react and buried the rebound.
Jesé almost made amends for his mistake five minutes later, but David de Gea kept out his shot with a stunning reflex save. Unfortunately for De Gea and United, it was all for naught, as Stoke equalized from the ensuing corner. Shaqiri’s inswinger went to the far post, and Choupo-Moting was there again to head home above Phil Jones.
Just after the 70th minute mark, Mourinho made his move. Juan Mata and Anthony Martial joined the fray, replacing Rashford and Herrera. Martial almost created a winner 10 minutes after coming on, but Lukaku could only blast his shot over the bar, following the Frenchman’s cross.
Jesse Lingard came on in place of Mkhitaryan with 7 minutes to go, with United still searching for a winner. Right at the death, Butland resuced a point for Stoke by clawing away what looked like a sure own-goal from Kurt Zouma.