Fellaini sent off but United holds City to a goalless draw

Manchester United held on following Marouane Fellaini’s late sending-off for headbutting Sergio Aguero to eke out a 0-0 draw at Manchester City in the English Premier League on Thursday, keeping the race for Champions League qualification congested.

Marouanne Fellaini is shown the red card for his headbutt on Sergio Aguero.   -  AP

Manchester United held on following Marouane Fellaini’s late sending-off for headbutting Sergio Aguero to eke out a 0-0 draw at Manchester City in the English Premier League on Thursday, keeping the race for Champions League qualification congested.

Fellaini might have been about to receive a second booking anyway for fouling Aguero when he went head to head with City’s striker and connected with a headbutt in the 84th minute, earning a straight red card.

Matchcentre

City sent on fit-again striker Gabriel Jesus in an attempt to score a late goal and the striker had a stoppage-time headed goal disallowed for offside in a tense finish at Etihad Stadium.

United manager Jose Mourinho’s defensive tactics suffocated another heavyweight rival it resembled an attack-vs-defense exercise in the second half but whether a goalless draw does the team any good is open to question.

The result kept Mourinho’s team in fifth place, both a place and a point behind City with five games remaining in the race for a top-four finish to qualify for the Champions League. Liverpool is a point ahead of City and has played a game more than both Manchester clubs.

United has the more difficult run-in, with trips to come to Tottenham and Arsenal, and is still involved in the Europa League, with a two-leg semifinal looming against Celta Vigo.

By becoming only the second team, after Stoke, to stop City from scoring at home this season, United extended its unbeaten run in the league to 24 games dating to a loss at Chelsea in October.

Mourinho has masterminded a 0-0 draw against Liverpool at Anfield, stopping at the time the league’s most prolific attack, and recently delivered a tactical masterclass in a 2-0 win over first-place Chelsea.

It worked to an extent, although it wasn’t pretty.

Rashford was particularly lively, outsprinting defender Nicolas Otamendi with embarrassing ease on occasions, and City was often thankful for the composure of fit-again captain Vincent Kompany alongside Otamendi at the back.

Aguero was City’s main danger as ever and he should have scored in the ninth minute, side-footing against the outside of the post from close range off Kevin De Bruyne’s low right-wing cross.

Ander Herrera had just as good a chance for United in the last seconds of the first half but headed wide, unmarked, from Rashford’s deep free kick.

City dominated the second half, meaning Rashford was left increasingly isolated up front, but was restricted to shots from range as United’s defense dropped deep.

City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo was carried off on a stretcher moments before Fellaini’s red card after injuring himself collecting a corner.

In three matches between City and United this season two in the league and the other in the League Cup Mourinho and Guardiola have earned one win each and drawn the other.

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