Manchester United 0-0 Crystal Palace: Jose Mourinho’s side fail to close gap on top four

David de Gea was able to claim his first Premier League clean sheet at Old Trafford since March – and that’s where the good news ended for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United, who were booed off at full-time with the odd shout of ‘Get lost Mourinho’ emanating from the stands.

United made a mockery of Mourinho’s optimistic assertion that he wanted to be inside the top four by New Year’s Day. They have seven league games in December but if they can’t see off Palace, the division’s lowest scorers bar Huddersfield and without a goal at United in six visits, it’s hard to envisage a significant winning streak in the offing.

For the last 15 minutes, United went lower league, piling Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, Romelu Lukaku and other six footers into the box to try and win headers, but Palace held firm. 

United striker Romelu Lukaku fired in a shot from close range but it was deemed - correctly - to be offside and Palace survived

United striker Romelu Lukaku fired in a shot from close range but it was deemed – correctly – to be offside and Palace survived

Belgium striker Lukaku, whose Old Trafford struggles go on, was quick to berate the linesman but the decision was correct

Belgium striker Lukaku, whose Old Trafford struggles go on, was quick to berate the linesman but the decision was correct

Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate also had the ball in the back of the net for Palace, but that too was correctly flagged for offside

Midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate also had the ball in the back of the net for Palace, but that too was correctly flagged for offside

Anthony Martial expresses Manchester United's frustrations after they were held to a goalless draw by Palace at Old Trafford

Anthony Martial expresses Manchester United’s frustrations after they were held to a goalless draw by Palace at Old Trafford

MATCH FACTS, RATINGS AND PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE

Manchester United (4-1-4-1): De Gea 7; Darmian 6.5, Smalling 6.5, Lindelof 5, Young 6.5; Matic 7; Mata 6.5 (Rashford 60), Pogba 5 (Sanchez 68), Lingard 6 (Fellaini 60), Martial 5.5; Lukaku 5.5

Subs not used: Grant, Jones, Fred, Valencia

Booked: Young 

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Hennessey 6.5; Wan-Bissaka 6, Sakho 6, Tomkins 6, van Aanholt 6; Milivojevic 7.5, Kouyate 6.5, McArthur 7; Meyer 6.5, Townsend 6 (Schlupp 88), Zaha 7 (Ayew 90)

Subs not used: Guaita, Ward, Sorloth, Kelly, Puncheon

Booked: Milivojevic, Sakho 

Referee: Lee Mason 7.5 

Attendance: 74,516

Wilfried Zaha was central to Crystal Palace's attacking threat as he returned to his former club Manchester United. Click HERE to see more from Sportsmail's Match Zone service

Wilfried Zaha was central to Crystal Palace’s attacking threat as he returned to his former club Manchester United. Click HERE to see more from Sportsmail’s Match Zone service

By that stage, the biggest of them all Paul Pogba, was off the pitch, hooked to a few catcalls midway through the second half after failing to influence the game whatsoever. Romelu Lukaku is 11 games without a goal and de Gea won’t sign a new contract for this team, particularly with PSG interested.

There is no way a draw flattered Roy Hodgson’s team. They had more shots on goal than United, 13 to 12. Both goalkeepers, David de Gea and Wayne Hennessey made impressive double-saves. Both sides had goals ruled out for offside.

There were groans at Pogba when he misplaced a pass and audible disgruntlement at the final whistle. Their afternoon was summed up when Lingard made a tactical foul and referee Lee Mason signalled advantage to let Palace continue their counter-attack.

‘It’s a bad result,’ conceded a downbeat Mourinho afterwards. ‘We played as if it was just one more game, not a game we really needed to win.

‘We found the space very well by analysing the opponent and by training, but not enough intensity, not enough desire. My feeling is it wasn’t enough from the heart. We must play with brain but we must also play with heart.’

Paul Pogba evades the challenges of Palace's defence to whip a shot around James Tomkins, but it flies wide of the target

Paul Pogba evades the challenges of Palace’s defence to whip a shot around James Tomkins, but it flies wide of the target

Patrick van Aanholt holds off Matteo Darmian in a first-half battle of the full backs at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon

Patrick van Aanholt holds off Matteo Darmian in a first-half battle of the full backs at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon

There was an early yellow card for Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic when he tripped an advancing Jesse Lingard

There was an early yellow card for Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic when he tripped an advancing Jesse Lingard

Wayne Hennessey was caught in no-mans-land from a corner but Chris Smalling couldn't direct a back-post header goalwards

Wayne Hennessey was caught in no-mans-land from a corner but Chris Smalling couldn’t direct a back-post header goalwards

The manager now has a big decision whether to stick or twist for Tuesday”s Champions League game against Young Boys.

He questioned the mentality of younger players Luke Shaw, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial in a TV interview last week but on this occasion the tough love didn’t work.

Lingard was among the players substituted early, so too were Pogba and Juan Mata on his 200th United appearance. Replacements Rashford and Alexis Sanchez contributed little after coming on. Nobody appears safe or happy at Mourinho’s United right now.

He’d made four changes from the dismal derby defeat against Manchester City that preceded the international break. Pogba and Lukaku returned, Matteo Darmian rather than club captain Antonio Valencia was preferred at right-back with Ashley Young switching to the left in place of the suspended Shaw.

Jose Mourinho was left to watch another below-par first-half performance from his Manchester United side at Old Trafford

Jose Mourinho was left to watch another below-par first-half performance from his Manchester United side at Old Trafford

Martial tries a header at goal with Mamadou Sakho watching on, but he could not find the back of the net

Martial tries a header at goal with Mamadou Sakho watching on, but he could not find the back of the net

Ex-Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha was back in front of the Old Trafford crowd; pictured is a first-half blocked shot

Ex-Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha was back in front of the Old Trafford crowd; pictured is a first-half blocked shot

James Tomkins saves his side with a last-ditch slide tackle to stop Martial flicking a shot past goalkeeper Hennessey

James Tomkins saves his side with a last-ditch slide tackle to stop Martial flicking a shot past goalkeeper Hennessey

United started brightly as they often do before fading badly, as they often do. Lingard and Martial had early chances but without the boost of an early goal, they lost rhythm and Palace grew in confdence.

Star man and ex-United player Wilfried Zaha was given plenty of room inside the penalty area and berated himself for shooting wide. After 27 minutes, he picked out Patrick van Aanholt unmarked following a devastating Palace counter. Adrenaline got the better of the Dutchman and when the ball arrived he fluffed the finish with his ‘wrong’ right foot.

United threatened, but not too frequently. Chris Smalling headed Mata’s free-kick wide on the Spaniard’s 200th United performance and then Hennessey got down well to deny Lingard’s shot and then scrambled to his feet to keep out the Martial rebound.

The best chance of the first half fell to Crystal Palace left back Van Aanholt, but he snatched at the first-time effort

The best chance of the first half fell to Crystal Palace left back Van Aanholt, but he snatched at the first-time effort

The Dutchman appeared well aware of how costly his miss could be for Palace as he reacted with his hands on his head

The Dutchman appeared well aware of how costly his miss could be for Palace as he reacted with his hands on his head

There was also a yellow card for Mamadou Sakho, who hauled down Lingard with the midfielder sprinting goalwards

There was also a yellow card for Mamadou Sakho, who hauled down Lingard with the midfielder sprinting goalwards

Andros Townsend could - and probably should - have scored for Palace after bundling his way through the United back-line

Andros Townsend could – and probably should – have scored for Palace after bundling his way through the United back-line

EXPERT VIEW

It is a very poor challenge from Marouane Fellaini on Luka Milivojevic and referee Lee Mason didn’t even award a free-kick.

That can only mean Mason didn’t have a clear view because that was serious foul play.

It had to be a red card. 

 By Chris Foy, former Premier League referee

Palace had a goal ruled on the stroke of half-time when Cheikh Kouyate was marginally offside when he headed in Milivojevic’s free-kick. 

Ironically, United had their own effort disallowed early in the second half when Hennessey spilled Young’s strike and Lukaku prodded home having been offside when the defender shot.

Sir Alex Ferguson, watching from the stands, couldn’t have been enjoying it and Mourinho threw Rashford, Fellaini and Sanchez. Pogba made way to a muted response.

Palace looked optimistic about snatching a win and de Gea needed to be at his elastic best to dive to his right and keep out a Kouyate shot. The Spaniard then scrambled to keep out van Aanholt’s rebound attempt.

Andros Townsend then evaded a feeble challenge by Lindelof but with de Gea in his sights he fired right-footed beyond the far post.

‘It’s the constant lament,’ said Palace boss Roy Hodgson afterwards. ‘I was asked the question about deserving more after we played Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea. 

It was another poor day for Lukaku, who has now gone 11 games without scoring a single goal at home for Manchester United

It was another poor day for Lukaku, who has now gone 11 games without scoring a single goal at home for Manchester United

Mourinho offered encouragement for his players from the sidelines but they were unable to get off the mark against Palace

Mourinho offered encouragement for his players from the sidelines but they were unable to get off the mark against Palace

Van Aanholt fells Ashley Young, who was grimacing before he hit the floor during the goalless Premier League draw

Van Aanholt fells Ashley Young, who was grimacing before he hit the floor during the goalless Premier League draw

‘At least I have the satisfaction of believing the team played extremely well and we could even have won it if we’d been a bit more clincial and fate had been a bit kinder. We constantly preach to the players to get their shots away. It is only a matter of time before the chances go in.’

United pumped the ball forward in the last 10 minutes and Hennessey needed to at full stretch to keep out a Lukaku header.

The route one tactic in the hope of scrambling a later winner won’t have pleased the purists however. Particularly with Manchester City scoring for fun every weekend.

Roy Hodgson, flanked by his assistant Ray Lewington, will certainly have been the happier of the two managers on Saturday

Roy Hodgson, flanked by his assistant Ray Lewington, will certainly have been the happier of the two managers on Saturday

Zaha applauds Palace fans - while fending off boos from the United faithful - as he is substituted in first minute of injury time

Zaha applauds Palace fans – while fending off boos from the United faithful – as he is substituted in first minute of injury time

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