London (AFP) – Manchester United drew 0-0 with Leeds on Sunday to stay on track for a second-place finish in the Premier League after Burnley took a giant step towards survival.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men beat their bitter rivals 6-2 at Old Trafford in December but both sides looked short of energy and imagination in a lacklustre encounter at Elland Road.
The result takes United to 67 points after 33 games, 10 points behind champions-elect Manchester City but eight points clear of third-placed Leicester.
Solskjaer rested Paul Pogba and Edinson Cavani with one eye on Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first leg against Roma and they lacked fluidity, especially in the first half.
The visitors had an early chance when Marcus Rashford raced onto a long ball but he could only hit a weak shot that dribbled wide.
Stuart Dallas fired straight at Dean Henderson in the Manchester United goal as the home side grew into the game but Leeds were living dangerously, conceding fouls in dangerous positions around the penalty box.
Rashford almost made them pay in the dying moments of the first half, thundering a free-kick towards goal that was brilliantly saved by Illan Meslier.
The visitors found more of a rhythm as the second half wore on and the game opened up in the spring sunshine.
Bruno Fernandes fired wide after a cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Mason Greenwood’s left-footed shot was comfortably saved by Meslier.
Daniel James had a golden chance to open the scoring but failed to connect properly with a cross from Rashford.
Moments later Helder Coster’s shot was deflected onto the roof of the net at the other end after a long diagonal pass, while Mateusz Klich shot straight at Henderson when in a good position.
Solskjaer threw on Pogba and Cavani but United could not find the breakthrough.
Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and Chelsea currently occupy the top-four spots in the Premier League but just seven points separate Leicester from eighth-placed Everton.
Most of the teams have just five games to play.
– Wood hat-trick –
Earlier, Chris Wood scored a first-half hat-trick as Burnley pummelled Wolves 4-0 to lift themselves nine points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
Burnley were sharper and more committed but mid-table Wolves contributed to their downfall with some sloppy defensive work at an empty Molineux.
Wood, who is now Burnley’s outright top scorer in the Premier League, is the first player from New Zealand to score a Premier League hat-trick.
The win lifts Sean Dyche’s men to 14th in the table, nine points clear of 18th-placed Fulham with just five games remaining, meaning they are almost certain to secure a sixth successive season of top-flight football.
“Obviously we were playing a top side in Manchester United last week and they just punished us at critical times,” Wood told the BBC. “We played well last week and we knew we had to come and play well again and the result would follow.
“We knew our position was in our hands and that was the main thing. We wanted to keep it that way and this has made it a little bit easier now but there are still five tough games to go and we will see where we lie.”
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