Three first half injuries ruined Manchester United’s game plan against Liverpool at Old Trafford.
Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, and substitute Jesse Lingard were all forced off, while Nemanja Matic picked up an injury in training before the game.
Despite this, youngsters Ander Pereira and Scott McTominay stepped up and helped a 0-0 draw.
It was disappointing not to win, but a draw in these circumstances was not a bad result. And it took points away from Liverpool’s title challenge too.
Here are four lessons learned from the draw…
Stand ins deserve praise
Every United player on the pitch could be proud of their efforts yesterday.
Even Romelu Lukaku, who failed to provide a cutting edge in attack, worked hard and shifted out wide to allow an injured Rashford to play centrally in the second half.
Scott McTominay has been unfairly derided all season, after Jose Mourinho wrecked his confidence and reputation by playing him at centre-back.
It’s easy to forget McTominay starred in the win over Liverpool last season.
Yesterday he offered a timely reminder, and while he is no Matic, he proved a capable stand in.
At just 22, his United career is far from over.
Andreas Pereira also stepped in off the bench and showed some fight with a couple of strong tackles and forward runs.
He has bounced back from his horror show against Burnley and could be set for a run in the side with Ander Herrera injuring his hamstring.
This was not a game where he saw as much possession as he would have liked, but it was a promising performance all the same.
Solskjaer has improved the defence for free
For all Jose Mourinho’s moaning about United’s defence, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has fixed it without spending a penny in the transfer market.
Chris Smalling was excellent alongside Victor Lindelöf and could be emerging as the Swede’s favoured partner.
Ashley Young and Luke Shaw were terrific as they shut down Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
Money obviously will be spent on defensive recruitments in the summer, but it is telling what Solskjaer and his staff have managed to do so quickly.
The turnaround should give the board confidence to appoint Solskjaer, and give him money to spend to make the defence even better.
We do need to worry about top four
We could be counting the cost of this draw for quite a while.
Injuries to Lingard, Mata and Herrera could keep them sidelined for at least a couple of weeks.
Yet the fixtures keep on coming, with a tough visit to Crystal Palace on Wednesday night.
While we drew with Liverpool, Arsenal won their match to leapfrog us into fourth.
United still have to visit The Emirates in the league again, and there are further tough fixtures against Chelsea, Wolves and Manchester City ahead.
The hard work is only just beginning, and it could be getting tougher with a depleted squad. Nothing can be taken for granted.
Bring in the kids
Injuries biting certainly leave the squad stretched, and this will mean opportunities for youngsters.
Tahith Chong is on the verge of breaking through, while Angel Gomes, James Garner, and Mason Greenwood are also on the fringes of the first team.
Solskjaer has to be careful how he does it, but it’s likely each of them will get more chances as the season goes on.
They will have to be ready to step up and help our league and FA Cup battles, because the team looks like it needs fresh legs right now.