Man United, Sociedad draw 0-0 in Champions
SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (AP) — Robin van Persie missed a penalty as Manchester United was held to a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad in Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday.
Van Persie saw a powerful shot ricochet off the right post in the 65th minute before hitting the same piece of woodwork four minutes later from the penalty spot.
A scrappy opening half by both teams gave way to a United-dominated second period, with Javier Hernandez firing high over the bar in the 50th with an empty net beckoning.
United midfielder Marouane Fellaini was sent off in the 90th minute after his second yellow card of the match.
United remained top of the group with eight points while Sociedad earned its first point of the campaign. Bayer Leverkusen is second with seven points after drawing 0-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk, which has five points.
United can clinch its place in the knockout stage with a victory at Leverkusen in its next match, which would keep Sociedad alive only if it wins at Shakhtar.
“That was a game we should have won. It was there for us to take the points, get ourselves in a really strong position, and near enough get clear,” United manager David Moyes said. “At the moment we’re still top of the group and in a good position.”
While Wayne Rooney set up Shinji Kagawa for an early chance, both teams failed to establish any rhythm until the half hour mark, when Imanol Agirretxe sent a good chance wide.
Sociedad’s Carlos Vela and Alberto de la Bella caused trouble for United before the break, but neither side really threatened until Shinji Kagawa slid a pass through the box to Hernandez, who somehow powered the ball over when a gentle touch would have sufficed.
Van Persie, who replaced Rooney, and Ashley Young’s entrances in the 63rd minute turned the game United’s way and the pair nearly created a goal from their first touches as Young found the Netherlands striker at the far end of the box, only for Van Persie to rocket an angled shot off the post.
Markel Bergara was harshly judged to have tugged Young down inside the area to set up Van Persie’s spot kick, but again the Dutchman found the right post.
“I felt I got a touch on it,” Real goalkeeper Claudio Bravo said, “I’m just not sure if it was before or after it came off the post.”
Vela chested Xabi Prieto’s rising shot just wide as Sociedad finally threatened United’s goal in the second period.
Haris Seferovic replaced Antoine Griezmann with 10 minutes remaining despite the Frenchman being Sociedad’s top scoring forward this season, with five goals in his last three games.
Antonio Valencia saw a shot cleared off the line after Griezmann’s exit as Sociedad held on to avoid a club record fourth straight European loss.
“I thought we started the game better but as they found space they started to take over,” Real coach Jagoba Arrasate said. “The math says we’re still alive. Now we have to go to Ukraine and win.”