Manchester United struggles continue on Di Maria debut

Reuters, Saturday 30 Aug 2014

Manchester United
Manchester United's Angel Di Maria, center, keeps the ball from Burnley's Scott Arfield during their English Premier League soccer match at Turf Moor Stadium, Burnley, England, Saturday Aug. 30, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Manchester United's Premier League frustrations continued as they were held 0-0 at promoted Burnley on Saturday with British-record signing Angel Di Maria unable to spark an improvement in their fortunes.

Di Maria, signed from Real Madrid for 59.7 million pounds ($98.77 million) on Tuesday, showed flashes of his talent in a 70-minute debut, but United still looked short of attacking ideas, claiming only their second point from their opening three league games.

Their defence, that were ripped apart in a 4-0 League Cup defeat to third tier MK Dons on Tuesday, still looked uncomfortable with manager Louis van Gaal's three centre back system.

"We were the stronger team, certainly in the second half," Van Gaal told BT Sport.

"We created chances but you have to score. That is where we have failed. The progress is there but you have to win.

"A club like Manchester United has to win. We have two points from nine and that's disappointing."

Having lost their opening two games on their return to the top flight, Burnley put their first point on the board in the new campaign.

The hosts could have been 2-0 up within minutes of the kickoff as former United midfielder David Jones curled a freekick against the crossbar and some woeful defending from Jonny Evans let in Lukas Jutkiewicz, who was denied by the out-rushing David De Gea.

Di Maria grew into the game and was undoubtedly United's best player in the first half, injecting pace and direct running into their midfield while also being the main creative force with clever flicks and pin-point passes.

The Argentine was the architect of United's best chance with a searching long ball that found Robin van Persie, who controlled brilliantly, but could not beat Burnley keeper Tom Heaton, playing against his former club.

Another penetrating run from Di Maria in the second half sparked panic in the Burnley ranks and led to Van Persie having a shot cleared off the line, while Wayne Rooney headed a corner wide with 13 minutes remaining.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

Short link: