Manchester United were held to a 0-0 draw by Watford at Old Trafford in the Premier League and will see it as two points dropped after dominating the game from whistle to whistle and racking up 22 shots without finding the net. For Watford, it is a vital point their fight for survival.
The reverse of this fixture back in November, which Watford won 4-1, was the final nail in the coffin for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. This time, Ralf Rangnick’s United started brightly and went close to scoring very early when Cristiano Ronaldo struck the inside of the post.
Ronaldo had the ball in the net 15 minutes in, only to be denied by an offside flag, while Anthony Elanga started brightly, and Bruno Fernandes had two outstanding chances in the first quarter of the game – one that forced an excellent Ben Foster save and another he directed wide.
When the superb Elanga put Ronaldo through, Old Trafford held its breath expecting the net to ripple. But the 37-year-old was forced wide by Foster and his cross into the middle was headed over by Fernandes, who could easily have had a hat-trick inside the opening half hour alone.
Alex Telles flashed a free-kick just wide and there were penalty claims when Elanga went down under the challenge of Craig Cathcart, one of four Watford starters facing their former club, but it remained goal-less at half-time.
Ronaldo was denied a penalty early in the second half after being bundled over by Hassane Kamara. Moments later, an incisive move saw Paul Pogba and Elanga combine beautifully, with the young Swede firing wide instead of on target. Foster later pounced on another Ronaldo effort.
Watford, meanwhile, having seen the door slammed in their face during the first half began to offer a little more going forward, with Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis coming into the game.
In a bid to win the game, Rangnick made two attacking changes that left Pogba as a sole holding midfielder, effectively operating behind five forwards. Despite the potential overload up front, United struggled to make it count and a resilient Watford stood tall.
Substitute Jadon Sancho fizzed a curling just wide of the far post as the clock ticked into stoppage time, before one final Fernandes drive straight at Foster, who gratefully grasped the ball to his chest.
Man Utd player ratings
1. Goalkeeper & defenders
David de Gea (GK) - 6/10 - Had very little to do.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka (RB) - 7/10 - Made the most of his chance after being recalled. Defended really well and saw plenty of the ball going forward.
Victor Lindelof (CB) - 6/10 - Good distribution and won most of his individual battles, both on the ground and in the air..
Raphael Varane (CB) - 6/10 - Snuffed out potential Watford chances before the danger became a real threat.
Alex Telles (LB) - 6/10 - Offered plenty going forward.
Fred (CM) - 6/10 - Was in control of the game in midfield but tactically sacrificed with just under half an hour to play.
Nemanja Matic (CM) - 7/10 - Played an important role that gave his team a foothold in the game. Not his fault his teammates couldn't score but swapped for more attacking impetus.
Bruno Fernandes (AM) - 6/10 - Captain for the day and played like a man on a mission, yet his finishing was disappointingly wayward. Should have scored at least one of his great chances.
Paul Pogba (AM) - 7/10 - Occupied quite a free role and it suited him well. Was heavily involved in some of United's best creative play.
Anthony Elanga (ST) - 8/10 - Clearly brimming with confidence after his midweek goal. Created numerous chances with direct running and clever passes. Unfortunately missed a great chance of his own.
Cristiano Ronaldo (ST) - 6/10 - Hit the post in the opening minutes and was later denied a goal by an offside flag. Grew frustrated.
Jadon Sancho (LW) - 6/10 - Threatened but couldn't make it count.
Luke Shaw (LB) - 6/10 - Put plenty of balls in to the box.
Marcus Rashford (ST) - 5/10 - No game-changing impact.
Watford player ratings
5. Goalkeeper & defenders
Ben Foster (GK) - 7/10 - Made a big early save to deny Fernandes, setting the tone for a busy afternoon. Delighted with a clean sheet.
Jeremy Ngakia (RB) - 5/10 - Looked the weak link in the back four after a tiring first half and was replaced early in the second.
Craig Cathcart (CB) - 7/10 - Survived a penalty appeal in the first half but had the last laugh against his old team.
Samir (CB) - 7/10 - Threw everything at keeping United out.
Hassane Kamara (LB) - 6/10 - Beaten quite a few times on a tough afternoon. Just about held his own in the end.
Moussa Sissoko (CM) - 8/10 - Most of his work needed to be defensive but it was a really disciplined performance.
Imran Louza (CM) - 7/10 - Frustrated the hosts in midfield. Recovered the ball frequently, while his interception tally was also high.
Tom Cleverley (CM) - 6/10 - Had to do a lot out of possession
Ismaila Sarr (RW) - 5/10 - His pace looked like it could cause a problem but didn't see enough of the ball to test that out more.
Emmanuel Dennis (ST) - 6/10 - Had to feed off scraps but came into the game a little more after the break.
Joshua King (LW) - 5/10 - Couldn't continue his good scoring record against his former club. Withdrawn early in the second half.
Christian Kabasele (CB) - 6/10 - Brought on for more defensive stability.
Ken Sema (LM) - 6/10 - Helped contain the hosts.
Juraj Kucka (CM) - 6/10 - Celebrated his 35th birthday with a big point.