Falcao rescues Man United as Red Devils escape Stoke with draw
STOKE, England —
Manchester United striker Radamel Falcao rescued a 1-1 draw at Stoke on Thursday to extend his team’s unbeaten run to 10 matches in the Premier League.
Although United has collected only five points from its three games in the congested Christmas program, Louis van Gaal’s team remains third.
Ryan Shawcross stunned United by scoring in the 2nd minute against his old club but Falcao leveled in the 26th with his third goal since joining on loan from Monaco in September.
Peter Crouch hit a post in the second half at Britannia Stadium and the former Tottenham striker felt he should have been awarded a penalty when his header struck Chris Smalling’s arm.
Mame Biram Diouf, who managed to score just once in 2 1/2 years at United, wasted a great chance to put Stoke 2-0 up after an error by Jonny Evans, who had a shaky game at centerback.
Despite a stellar cast of forwards including Wayne Rooney, Falcao, Juan Mata and Robin van Persie, United rarely looked threatening on the attack. A clever second-half volley from Van Persie was the closest the visitors came to adding a second goal.
Just 109 seconds into the match, Hughes’ team went ahead. Crouch headed Marko Arnautovic’s corner goalward and Shawcross, the former United trainee, was there to guide the ball home.
Diouf exposed the visitors’ defensive troubles when he dispossessed a nervous Evans and looked down on goal, but he curled his shot high and wide.
Then, completely out of the blue, United equalized. Michael Carrick ran to the near post and flicked on Rooney’s corner to Falcao, who skilfully tapped in from close range.
United started the second half poorly. There were too many attempts at complicated passes and threaded through-balls that did not come off, thanks partly to the heavy rain that was now falling on the uneven surface.
Stoke was adamant it should have had a penalty when Crouch’s header struck Smalling’s outstretched arm.
Van Gaal brought Adnan Januzaj and Ander Herrera on for Luke Shaw and Falcao, which allowed Rooney to move up front as both teams unsuccessfully chased the win.
Mata lobbed the Stoke defence to find Van Persie, who chested the ball down and volleyed just wide.
At the other end, Crouch hit the woodwork from Arnautovic’s corner and Diouf’s deflected volley flew inches wide.