Manchester United ensured they would head the Premier League table at Christmas after being held to a frustrating draw by Swansea at the Liberty Stadium.
After seeing local rivals Manchester City halve their six point advantage at the top Sir Alex Ferguson will be worried that his usually potent attacking force failed to fire in South Wales despite a point keeping them firmly in pole position.
The Swans, on the other hand, will be more than happy to take a share of the festive spoils from the league leaders as they looked to keep their faint European aspirations alive heading into the second half of the season.
However, Michael Laudrup knows his sides defending from set pieces will have to improve if they are to nab a surprise top 10 finish after they fell behind just after the quarter hour.
Michel Vorm, back after 10 games out, palmed away a Wayne Rooney hit early on before turning Ashley Young’s close range strike round the post after he latched on to a defence splitting pass from Michael Carrick.
From the resulting corner, delivered by Robin Van Persie, in came Patrice Evra to take advantage of some careless marking and squeeze the ball past Leon Britton into the far corner for his third headed goal of the season.
The home side rallied and put a United defence, that has conceded 25 goals already this term, under pressure and their equaliser came in the 29th minute after a slick move saw Michu tuck the ball home from after David de Gea palmed Jonathan De Guzman’s strike.
De Gea saved again from De Guzman, while Rooney shot tamely at Vorm from Evra’s setup as both sides laboured in their search for a second goal.
In fact the only flashpoint of the second half came when Van Persie grappled with Ashley Williams after the Swansea defender blasted the ball off the Dutchman’s head while he lay prone on the turf.
Luckily referee Michael Oliver quickly diffused the situation as the home side stood firm to further amplify Ferguson and United’s ire.