Manchester United's top four hopes take a hit after Watford draw

More frustration for Cristiano Ronaldo as Ralf Rangnick's team fail to impress at Old Trafford

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Manchester United's hopes of a top four finish suffered a big blow on Saturday as they were held to a goalless draw by lowly Watford at Old Trafford.

The result leaves United on 47 points in fourth place, two points ahead of Arsenal but the Gunners have three games in hand.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck the post in the fifth minute with a shot on the turn and then had an effort ruled out for offside. Despite all the pressure they built, Ralf Rangnick's side failed to create enough clear chances.

In the first half, Bruno Fernandes also squander a one-on-one chance and miscue a volley wide from point-blank range.

United winger Anthony Elanga wasted a golden opportunity after the break, firing wide after being put in by a flick from Paul Pogba but Watford defended resolutely.

In the second half, Watford defended better but still gave up chances. Ronaldo, who has scored just once in 10 games, had United’s last good chance but met a cross from Fernandes with a weak effort that was saved easily by Ben Foster.

Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were thrown on in the final stages and the former came close with an effort that dipped just too late as the game entered stoppage time.

Watford could even have snatched a memorable double over United when Ismaila Sarr blasted a shot just wide with the final act of the game.

Watford remain next to bottom on 19 points, three points behind 17th placed Everton. Watford, who memorably beat United 4-1 in the reverse fixture in November that proved to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's last match in charge of the Red Devils, are three points from safety.

They have picked up five points from six games following Roy Hodgson's appointment as successor to Claudio Ranieri earlier this month, including their first win since that 4-1 game.

United have only lost once from open play in 20 games since, but nine of those matches have been draws as a star-studded squad has still struggled to match expectations.

After speculation over the potential for Ronaldo to take over the captaincy from Harry Maguire, it was Fernandes who took the armband as the England centre-back was dropped to the bench.

Just prior to kick-off, the teams gathered together to hold up a sign displaying the word 'Peace', while a Ukraine flag could be seen in the crowd.

Updated: February 26, 2022, 5:35 PM