LOSC Lille Métropole have still to score in UEFA Champions League Group D but it is unlikely their coach Claude Puel will be too perturbed by this failure after the French side claimed a valuable point with a goalless draw at Manchester United FC.
It was a frustrating evening for Sir Alex Ferguson's team who, in the absence of the suspended Wayne Rooney, struggled to find the inspiration to unlock a Lille side who lived up to their nickname of Les Dogues with a disciplined, dogged approach that ultimately earned a deserved stalemate.
Four years ago at Old Trafford, United broke Lille's resistance with a David Beckham goal at the last but the chances of that receded once Paul Scholes had been dismissed for a second yellow card on 64 minutes. Scholes will miss the clubs' next encounter in Paris on 2 November, along with Ryan Giggs who was withdrawn after breaking his cheekbone, although United at least retain first place in the group after Villarreal CF and SL Benfica drew.
Lille, with just one out-and-out striker in Peter Odemwingie, offered United few gaps to exploit in a cagey opening period. Just past the ten-minute mark, however, slack defending could have brought the first goal. Efstathios Tavlaridis fluffed a clearance, allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to race clear down the left and whip in a low cross which Tony Sylva was forced to deal with after unconvincing defending.
Moments later came a scare for United as Odemwingie found himself clean through on Edwin van der Sar's goal. As he looked to round the goalkeeper, the Nigerian international tumbled over under minimal contact from the custodian and saw his penalty claims ignored by referee Stefano Farina. Save for two Milenko Ačimovič shots from distance, that was the sum total of Lille's first-half threat.
The Ligue 1 team were neat in possession but it was United who had the better chances. One sweetly-worked free-kick routine after 16 minutes saw Giggs, out on the right, play a short ball infield to Phil Bardsley whose floated centre was flicked on by Rio Ferdinand to Scholes, and the flame-haired midfielder burnt Sylva's fingertips with a volleyed effort across goal. Shortly afterwards Sylva was called into action again to save low from Ruud van Nistelrooij.
One or two heavy challenges raised the temperature inside Old Trafford but the game continued to flow towards Lille's goal. The visitors breathed a sigh of relief shortly after the half-hour when the lively Giggs, a set-piece scorer against Benfica, was denied by the woodwork after his free-kick had beaten both the wall and Sylva.
United started the second half brightly, and Ronaldo had a headed opportunity from a corner but nodded straight at Sylva. However, a degree of sloppiness began to creep into their play - - without the urgings of the injured Roy Keane - and that early momentum faded. Instead the next goal attempt of note came from Lille substitute Geoffrey Dernis who, seconds after replacing Ačimovič, had Van der Sar scrambling across his goal.
United's prospects dimmed further when Scholes, booked in the first half, collected a second caution for a late challenge on Jean Makoun four minutes past the hour. Still, despite being a man down, United sought the winner to the end. Sylva did well to turn away Ronaldo's deflected cross while Giggs had a free-kick deflected over and Ferdinand headed straight at Sylva from the resulting corner. Van Nistelrooij was then denied a late chance by the offside flag, and Lille had their point.