Di Maria shines but Burnley frustrate United

Pete Ferguson
Manchester United's Angel di Maria (top) is tackled by Burnley’'s Dean Marney during their English Premier League match at Turf Moor in Burnley, north-west England, on August 30, 2014
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Manchester United's Angel di Maria (top) is tackled by Burnley’'s Dean Marney during their English Premier League match at Turf Moor in Burnley, north-west England, on August 30, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ian MacNicol)

Burnley (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Louis van Gaal was left searching for his first competitive win as Manchester United manager after a 0-0 draw at newly-promoted Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday.

United's record signing Angel di Maria, who at £59.7 million ($98 million, 75 million euros) cost more than Burnley have spent on transfer fees in their 132-year history, made a lively debut but went off after 69 minutes.

Sean Dyche's underdogs, who cost only £5 million to assemble, nevertheless matched their more illustrious opponents -- who had lost 4-0 at third-tier Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup in mid-week -- and went closest to scoring.

The visitors were fortunate not to be trailing as early as the third minute, when a free-kick conceded by Phil Jones on the edge of the area saw former United midfielder Dave Jones strike the bar.

An error soon after from Jonny Evans, one of the main culprits for the defeat at MK Dons, forced United goalkeeper David de Gea to improvise a save with his feet from the alert Danny Ings.

Di Maria showed the calibre of his passing with a fine ball from deep after 15 minutes that found Robin van Persie racing into the penalty area.

The United striker took the ball on his chest without stopping, but his shot was well parried at close range by outrushing goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

Di Maria was at the heart of United's next foray, taking a pass from Wayne Rooney and cutting the ball into the area for Juan Mata, who tripped over as he attempted to shoot.

Burnley were by no means overawed by their neighbours, especially amid signs that United's three-man defence have yet to come to terms with their new formation under Van Gaal.

- Young appeal dismissed -

One slack moment on 26 minutes allowed Jones a fierce snapshot from the edge of the area that De Gea was able to push over the bar only because it came straight at him.

Then Tyler Blackett, who had appeared to be adapting well, was caught out by Scott Arfield, who cut inside, only to see his low shot deflected for a fruitless corner.

United were also bereft of cohesion in attack, with a lack of understanding between van Persie and Mata diluting their threat, and their frustration boiled over when Darren Fletcher was booked for tugging back Ings by his shirt.

United, playing towards the end where their supporters stood, went close to taking the lead on 58 minutes when Rooney lobbed the ball into the penalty area and Ben Mee half-cleared the danger with a header.

The ball fell kindly to van Persie, but the Dutchman's drilled shot was cleared off the line by Dean Marney. Two minutes later van Persie drifted a header a foot over the bar as the visitors belatedly flexed their muscles.

Burnley won a free-kick in a dangerous area when Blackett brought Ings down from behind and was shown a yellow card, but when the ball was served up for Matt Taylor on the edge of the penalty box, his tame effort posed no problem for De Gea.

Di Maria, who had needed treatment earlier, eventually made way for Anderson after an encouraging debut, while Danny Welbeck was also introduced by Van Gaal.

Taylor was not far off with a shot from a free-kick that whistled over the United bar and Rooney went even closer with a far-post header from a corner.

Ashley Young had a penalty appeal for handball against Burnley substitute Ashley Barnes waved away as United pushed in vain for a late winner.