Premier League: Hull City 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United ended the 2014/15 season in disappointing fashion at the KC Stadium – with ten men and a goalless draw against Hull City, who were subsequently relegated from the Barclays Premier League after Newcastle claimed the victory they needed to send the Tigers down.
Steve Bruce’s men had the better of the chances in a lacklustre 90 minutes and while the home side rightly had two goals disallowed for offside, they were also denied by a couple of excellent saves from Victor Valdes, who made his first start for the Reds in place of the injured David De Gea. A frustrating afternoon for United was capped by Marouane Fellaini's red card for a studs-up challenge on ex-Red Paul McShane.
Despite there being little riding on the game for United, Louis van Gaal stayed true to his word and fielded a strong side, featuring fit-again captain Wayne Rooney and Angel Di Maria, who made his first start since the FA Cup defeat to Arsenal at the start of March. The Argentinian took up a spot on the left wing, with Juan Mata on the right and Ashley Young behind Rooney. There was no Radamel Falcao after he picked up a knock in training, while Robin van Persie was named on the bench.
United legend and Hull boss Bruce, who has never tasted victory over his former club as a manager, fielded an unchanged team which included three ex-Reds – Robbie Brady, James Chester and McShane. The Tigers knew only a win would do to give them any chance of staying up – they also had to rely on events at St James’ Park to go in their favour – and the home side were at it from the off with Dame N'Doye testing Valdes with an early header. A minute later Rooney, a man with seven goals in five appearances against Hull, clipped the top of the bar from 20 yards, but the opening part of the game belonged to Bruce’s men.
Hull must have guessed it wasn’t going to be their day as early as the 18th minute when they had the first of two goals disallowed for offside, with a world-class save from Valdes sandwiched between the strikes. The Spanish stopper had initially spilled Brady’s free-kick which led to David Meyler poking the ball goalwards and McShane eventually sticking it over the line, but the former United man was rightly flagged offside. After Valdes' one-handed stop denied Ahmed Elmohamady’s header, the resulting corner led to another Hull goal, but once more the referee’s assistant was spot on with disallowing it after both McShane and N’Doye were ahead of the last defenders as Stephen Quinn fired the ball towards goal.
Van Gaal’s men were struggling to get control of the game and were further hindered when Di Maria went off injured after 23 minutes, to be replaced by Adnan Januzaj. After those crazy few minutes with Hull’s disallowed efforts, the match turned scrappy with no chances of note for either side thereafter, although Herrera almost got on the end of a Young pass seconds before the break.
Both sides had openings at the start of second period with Mata pouncing on a loose Hull pass and putting Herrera through, but Michael Dawson made a superb block. Buoyed by their skipper’s commitment, the Tigers went on the attack immediately but Meyler volleyed a great chance over the bar after being presented with the ball by Valencia.
News of a Newcastle goal did little to dampen Hull’s enthusiasm and effort, but the Tigers breathed a sigh of relief on the hour-mark when United put together their best move of the match. Januzaj’s raking cross-field pass was expertly controlled by Mata, who fed Herrera, but the midfielder’s strike rolled just wide.
A corner at the other end caused panic in the United defence soon after with Blind making a last-ditch clearance, while N’Doye volleyed wide a few minutes later. Hull were denied again brilliantly by Valdes on 73 minutes when he dived to his left to beat away Jelavic’s header.
The Reds were down to ten men for the final 13 minutes after Fellaini was given his marching orders for leaving his foot in on McShane, which also means a three-match suspension for the Belgium international at the start of next season. That proved to be the only remaining action of the match, with both sides left frustrated at the final whistle, but there is certainly plenty for van Gaal to build on next season.
Hull City: Harper, Dawson, Chester (Hernandez 70), McShane, Elmohamady, Brady, Huddlestone, Meyler (Robertson 87), Quinn, N’Doye (Aluko 71), Jelavic.
Subs not used: McGregor, Rosenior, Bruce, Sagbo.
Booked: Dawson, Quinn
United: Valdes; Valencia, Smalling, Jones, Rojo; Blind, Herrera, Di Maria (Januzaj 23), Mata (Wilson 73), Young (Fellaini 59); Rooney.
Subs not used: Lindegaard, McNair, Blackett, Van Persie.
Booked: Blind, Smalling
Sent off: Fellaini