Premier League - Stoke City vs Manchester United - Stoke, Britain - September 9, 2017 Manchester United's Romelu Lukaku shoots over the bar Action Images via Reuters pic
Premier League - Stoke City vs Manchester United - Stoke, Britain - September 9, 2017 Stoke City's Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting gestures. REUTERS pic

STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting ended Manchester United’s perfect start to the Premier League season as his first two goals for Stoke secured a 2-2 draw against Jose Mourinho’s side on Saturday.

Choupo-Moting gave Stoke the lead before grabbing the crucial equaliser after Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had put United ahead.

The Cameroon forward’s goals were the first United had conceded in four league fixtures this season and Stoke became the first opponents to deny them victory.

A draw was enough to keep United on top of the table, ahead of Manchester City on goal difference, but the careless nature of the goals they conceded either side of half-time will be a concern for Mourinho.

Stoke’s summer signing scored on 43 and 63 minutes with Rashford equalising with a lucky, involuntary header on the stroke of half-time before Lukaku’s fourth goal in as many United appearances gave them a lead that lasted for just six minutes.

Stoke threatened first as Choupo-Moting chased a chip over the United back four and Eric Bailly had to race back to make an important challenge to concede a corner.

And United looked sluggish again moments later as they failed to defend a punt down the middle by Jack Butland which was collected by the darting Jese Rodriguez.

He found himself in the clear but had to shoot from a tight angle and fired past the far post.

United took the sting out of Stoke’s early attacks and had some promising possession of their own but they had a further scare in the 18th minute.

Xherdan Shaqiri hit a shot from distance for Stoke on 27 minutes and United goalkeeper David De Gea did well not just to save it but hold onto the ball.

Butland made a smart save at the other end from Rashford with Lukaku flagged offside as he chased the rebound.

After a largely scrappy first half in which Stoke more than held their own, they claimed the lead two minutes before the break.

The goal was made by two former United players with Darren Fletcher angling a pass to the right and Mame Diouf delivering a dangerous cross for Choupo-Moting to sneak ahead of Bailly and tap home.

But the lead lasted for just three minutes with United pulling level in first-half stoppage time.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner from the left was headed towards goal by Paul Pogba before striking Rashford on the head and beating Butland.

Stoke appealed for offside but replays proved their complaints were unfounded.

Early in the second half, Shaqiri twisted his way past two United defenders wide on the right but his angled cross drifted beyond the far post.

And 12 minutes into the half United were ahead as Stoke became architects of their own downfall.

Joe Allen squandered possession to Matteo Darmian, he found Mkhitaryan and the Armenian’s fine pass picked out Lukaku, who was played onside by Erik Pieters.

Butland made a smart save from the Belgian’s initial shot but could not stop him pouncing on the rebound to score.

Stoke were denied an equaliser on 62 minutes by a fabulous save from De Gea, who reacted brilliantly to tip Jese’s header over the crossbar.

But from the resulting corner the hosts would not be denied as Phil Jones lost his footing at the far post, giving Choupo-Moting a free header that he buried from a Shaqiri corner.

With nine minutes remaining, United missed a glorious chance to restore their lead as Lukaku met a cross from substitute Anthony Martial but lifted his shot from six yards over the crossbar.

And in stoppage-time Butland pulled off an important save to spare team-mate Kurt Zouma the embarrassment of an own-goal after he got his head to a United corner. — AFP

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