(Reuters) - A tepid Manchester United dented their hopes of catching up with the Premier League's top four after failing to spark in a dour 0-0 home draw with 15th-placed Crystal Palace on Saturday.
The result left United in seventh place on 21 points from 13 games, 14 adrift of leaders Manchester City and six behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who were hosting third-placed Chelsea in the 1730 GMT kick-off.gi
Striker Romelu Lukaku returned to United's starting line-up after being dropped in four previous games in all competitions but he looked rusty and the home side were fortunate to scrape a share of the spoils against the more adventurous visitors.
Wilfried Zaha and Patrick Van Aanholt came close for Palace in the opening half and Cheikhou Kouyate had a goal correctly disallowed for marginal offside, while keeper Wayne Hennessey denied Jesse Lingard at the other end.
Lukaku also had a goal scrapped for fractional offside in the 57th minute before Andros Townsend spurned a gilt-edged chance for Palace when he shot wide from 10 metres after a good solo run.
Having introduced Marcus Rashford and Alexis Sanchez in the second half, United manager Jose Mourinho finished the match with all his forwards on the pitch but the home side failed to carve out any supply routes in the closing stages.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Clare Fallon)