Manchester United put in another uninspired performance to draw with AZ Alkmaar in the Europa League.
Boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the plastic pitch was one of the “worst ones I have seen for a long while”.
But it would be hard to blame the surface for United’s failure to have a shot on target, with Jesse Lingard hitting their best chance wide late on.
AZ had the better chances, with striker Myron Boadu having a first-half goal correctly ruled out for offside.
United was unlucky not to win a penalty with 10 minutes to go as Stijn Wuytens brought Marcus Rashford down – but the referee did not award it and the video assistant referee system is not in use in the Europa League group stage.
Substitute Lingard walked off with an injury late on, leaving United to end with 10 men.
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United have not won in their past four games in all competitions, excluding a penalty shootout victory against Rochdale.
They are level with Partizan Belgrade on four points at the top of the group. The Serbian side won 2-1 in Astana thanks to a double from Umar Sadiq earlier on Thursday.
United have now not won in 10 away games – their last success on the road was against Paris St-Germain in their famous Champions League win in March.
They made eight changes from the lacklustre 1-1 draw against Arsenal on Monday – but this was no under-21 squad. In fact, their starting line-up had an older average age than AZ’s. Six of the 11 were over the age of 25, including goalkeeper David de Gea and midfielders Fred, Nemanja Matic and Juan Mata.
Mason Greenwood got the chance to start up front that some people expected on Monday, but he had one shot which looked goalbound before being blocked by Ron Vlaar.
It took United 67 minutes to have a shot, excluding blocked ones, with Angel Gomes hitting well over from distance.
United brought on Rashford, Lingard and Scott McTominay as they looked for a winner, but it never really looked on the cards – although Rashford could have had a penalty and Lingard hit a volley just wide.
To make matters worse Lingard pulled up with an injury in the closing stages and had to leave the pitch.
The positives were a decent defensive performance – with Brandon Williams making the first start at left-back – a clean sheet and a point.
If anyone was going to win the game, it was going to be AZ, who have been playing 50 miles from home in Den Haag after the roof fell in on their stadium in August.
A few strange bounces on the artificial turf caught players off guard, with plenty of passes cut out – but then that was also the case for United on their own grass pitch on Monday.
AZ is third in the Dutch league and now unbeaten in six games – and they had the better chances.
Netherlands Under-19 teenager Boadu had the ball in the back of the net with a stooping header from Fredrik Midtsjo’s cross but he was well offside.
The 18-year-old had another chance but he did not make proper contact with a header.
Alkmaar winger Oussama Idrissi was excellent, causing Diogo Dalot plenty of problems, and he forced two saves from De Gea as well as shooting wide from long range.
Manchester United are at Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday (16:30 BST) in the final game before the international break.
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Source – BBC