Stoke 1-1 Man Utd

By Michael Da SilvaBBC Sport
Peter Crouch
Crouch has now scored for six different Premier League clubs

Manchester United relinquished their 100% Premier League record after an absorbing contest at Stoke.

United opened the scoring through Nani, who exchanged passes with Darren Fletcher, before finishing beyond Asmir Begovic with aplomb.

David De Gea pulled off a couple of outstanding saves to keep United ahead but Stoke levelled in the 52nd minute through Peter Crouch's emphatic header.

Ryan Giggs squandered a great late chance as the points were shared.

United remain ahead of Manchester City by virtue of superior goal difference - but this is a game Sir Alex Ferguson's side could easily have lost.

Wave after wave of pulsating attacks had both sides hanging on in an end-to-end second half.

A late United winner would have been harsh on Stoke who acquitted themselves well against a United side that have swept all before them this season.

Stoke deserved a point - Ferguson

But the miss will disappoint Giggs, who sliced his side-foot volley wide after Nani's floated cross had picked him out.

United were without Wayne Rooney due to a hamstring injury, and then lost Jonny Evans in the warm-up, meaning Antonio Valencia was drafted in to play at right-back.

A feisty start at the Britannia Stadium resulted in an early blow for Javier Hernandez, scorer of three goals in his previous two games against Stoke, who was forced off with an injury.

The incident also should have resulted in United being awarded a penalty after Hernandez, who was clean through on goal, was nudged in the back by Jonathan Woodgate, sending him clattering into Begovic.

Having suffered a head injury on United's summer tour of the United States and a knock to his shin against Chelsea last week, Hernandez is now back on the treatment table with a dead leg.

Tackles were flying in from all angles and referee Peter Walton showed Glenn Whelan a yellow card for a reckless lunge on Patrice Evra - with Ferguson barking for further punishment.

But a patched up United scored with their first clear-cut chance in the 27th minute.

A one-two with Fletcher allowed Nani to shift the ball onto his left foot before caressing his shot beyond Begovic.

Within a minute of Nani's goal United had David de Gea to thank for preserving their lead, with the Spaniard making a stunning reflex save from Andy Wilkinson's rasping drive, tipping the ball on to the bar.

Crouch will be good for Stoke - Pulis

Stoke continued to dictate in the minutes before half-time but another outstanding stop from the £18m goalkeeper denied Walters, getting down low to make a fingertip save to his right.

The cut and thrust of the first half dissolved as Stoke pinned United back during the opening minutes of the match and made their pressure pay in the 51st minute.

Matthew Etherington whipped in an unplayable corner from the right, Crouch darted between Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand and leapt high to head in.

Two minutes later United's flaky defence was exposed by Jermaine Pennant, whose flighted cross found Crouch unmarked six yards out, with De Gea making a crucial save with his right elbow.

United were rocking and a Mark Wilson piledriver in the 68th minute stung the palms of De Gea.

A breathless second half saw the pendulum swing one way then the other before United were claiming handball against Ryan Shawcross, who appeared to block Evra's shot with the back of his upper arm - but the appeals proved in vain.

Crouch could have clinched the winner when he chested down Pennant's cross from the right, but dragged his shot wide.

Giggs' late miss left him staring to the heavens in despair as United surrendered what was the last remaining 100% record in England.

Live text commentaryexternal-link