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United left to rue a litany of missed chances as they're held by Tottenham

Hugo Lloris impressed at White Hart Lane but Louis van Gaal will be fuming at his attackers’ wastefulness.

Image: Adam Davy/PA Wire/Press Association Images

MANCHESTER UNITED’S EFFORTS to force their way into the Premier League title race faltered as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur.

An outstanding display by Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris together with wasteful United finishing meant Louis van van Gaal’s side were denied an eighth victory in nine games.

Had United claimed three points, they would have increased the pressure on top two Chelsea and Manchester City.

Instead they were left to reflect on a missed opportunity, but Spurs, who finished the game strongly, also had cause for regret after failing to enhance their own challenge for a top-four finish.

Van Gaal’s decision to name an unchanged side for the first time since he took charge at Old Trafford was a clear indication of the manager’s growing satisfaction with his team’s efforts after some good recent results.

Results, however, have told only part of the story, with United having failed to convince on occasion.

Still though, with Antonio Valancia and Ashley Young finding space on the flanks and Juan Mata and Wayne Rooney buzzing around in midfield, United repeatedly opened up a route to Lloris’s goal, but neither Rademal Falcao nor Robin van Persie could find a finishing touch.

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Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - White Hart Lane Robin van Persie missed a glorious chance in the first half and despite an immaculate first touch, he couldn't beat Hugo Lloris. Source: Phil Cole/EMPICS Sport

Mata came closest to breaking the deadlock with a 22nd-minute free-kick that struck the post and when the ball bounced towards the goal-line, Vlad Chiriches hacked it away from the feet of Falcao and Van Persie.

Falcao saw an angled shot parried by Lloris, moments before the Spurs goalkeeper snuffed out an opportunity for Van Persie after the striker had deftly brought down Michael Carrick’s chipped pass.

Then, in the final minute of the half, the France international produced an acrobatic, full-stretch save to tip Young’s curling cross-shot around the post.

The goalkeeper’s heroics had kept Spurs in it and his team-mates responded after the restart by adopting a more ambitious approach.

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - White Hart Lane Louis van Gaal, who normally remains in his seat for the entire match, got to his feet during the second half to get across his frustrations to the United players. Source: Phil Cole/EMPICS Sport

Townsend had been Spurs’ most dangerous attacking player and the England international became even more prominent as the game wore on, testing De Gea with a swerving 20-yard shot that the Spaniard did well to hold.

Moments earlier, Mata had fired over from Rafael da Silva’s cut-back, but that proved to be United’s last clear chance as the momentum of the game tipped in Spurs’ favour, with Christian Eriksen and Federico Fazio threatening.

Van Gaal withdrew the unconvincing Evans in favour of Chris Smalling, while Luke Shaw replaced McNair, but although the visitors hung on, it was amid a growing sense of panic and Ryan Mason should’ve put the hosts in front late on after some terrific work and an incisive pass from the impressive Harry Kane.

As it happened: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United, Premier League

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