Manchester United finally tested, settle for a draw away to Stoke
STOKE-ON-TRENT, England -- Three quick thoughts as Manchester United are held to a 2-2 draw by Stoke City at the bet365 Stadium.
1. United's perfect start comes to an end
Manchester United had to settle for a point against Stoke at the bet365 Stadium, bringing an end to their perfect start to the Premier League season.
Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku had put United in front after Maxim Choupo-Moting's opener only for the Cameroon international to equalise with his second of the game.
Jose Mourinho was looking for a fourth win in as many games this season.
Each of the three times he has started the season with four straight wins his team has gone on to win the title. Stoke made sure that run wouldn't happen this time.
Their first came a minute before half-time but there were warning signs as early as the opening five minutes.
The home side twice got in down United's left in the opening exchanges, first Mame Diouf and then Xherdan Shaqiri.
And when the goal finally did come, Darren Fletcher's ball floated over Matteo Darmian's head, Diouf crossed and Choupo-Moting smashed in his first goal for his new club after a summer move from Schalke.
Neither Darmian or Eric Bailly will want to see the replay again, with Bailly slow to get out to ensure Diouf was onside.
Ahead of the game, Mourinho said he wanted to see how his team would react in a "bad moment." And here they were behind for only two minutes.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan's corner was flicked on by Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba's header hit Rashford and went in. Pogba celebrated, but it will go down as Rashford's second goal in two games.
Mkhitaryan was involved again when United went ahead in the 57th minute. Darmian won back the ball on the left and the Armenian slipped a fantastic pass in to Lukaku. The Belgian needed two goes to beat Jack Butland, but he did and the £75 million striker had his fourth Premier League goal of the season.
But just six minutes later it was 2-2. Shaqiri lifted a corner to the back post and Choupo-Moting lost Phil Jones to head in. David De Gea will have been the most disappointed having produced an incredible save to deny Jese moments earlier.
2. Jose Mourinho gets the test he wanted.
Mourinho said before the game he wanted his United team to be tested, and his club certainly were at Stoke. He will be happy with the way they reacted to going 1-0 down and that Lukaku got on the score sheet again.
But a manager who builds his team around discipline and organisation will be unimpressed with the two goals United conceded.
Darmian and Bailly were at fault for the first, and Jones didn't do enough for the second. It will be especially disappointing for Mourinho, considering his team had not conceded once in their opening three games of the season.
Stoke's first goal highlights one particular problem for Mourinho.
He said in his prematch news conference he feels his squad still has one "weakness," and it is likely he is talking about left-back.
Darmian was brought in to replace Daley Blind but looked uncomfortable from the opening few minutes. Luke Shaw is still to return but Mourinho hasn't seemed convinced by him, either. He played at centre-back for the Under-23s against Arsenal on Friday night.
United were linked with Danny Rose in the summer and it is easy to see why.
3. Maxim Choupo-Moting a find for Stoke during crazy summer
Stoke finished tied for 12th last season, despite winning just two of their last 11 games. With the players Mark Hughes can call on, they should be looking to finish comfortably in the top 10.
Only Swansea and Southampton spent less than Stoke in the summer. But Hughes has made some shrewd signings in Fletcher and Choupo-Moting, both free transfers, while getting Jese on loan from Paris Saint-Germain and borrowing Kurt Zouma from Chelsea.
Fletcher, in particular, was fantastic against United while Choupo-Moting got his first two goals for his new club.
Hughes would rightly argue there is still value in the market if you know where to look, even in a world where one player is worth nearly £200 million.
There will not have been one Stoke fan pining for Marko Arnautovic after watching Choupo-Moting.
Hughes has enough centre-backs to be able to play a 3-4-3 effectively while Fletcher and Joe Allen are a dependable midfield two, allowing the better attacking players -- Shaqiri and Jese -- the freedom to go forward instead of tracking back.
They will beat plenty of good sides at the bet365 Stadium again this season. Arsenal have already found out how difficult it is here. United's last league win at Stoke came in 2013 under Sir Alex Ferguson. They are still waiting.
Rob is ESPN FC's Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.