MANCHESTER, England - Wayne Rooney returned to Manchester United's starting line-up on Monday but failed to inconvenience his suitors Chelsea in a forgettable 0-0 English Premier League draw at Old Trafford.
Rooney has been the subject of two failed bids from Chelsea in recent weeks, but he was one of the few impressive players on a night when the season's first major head-to-head clash failed to live up to its billing.
The England striker tested visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech on three occasions, while David Moyes' side were refused a second-half penalty following an apparent handball by Frank Lampard.
Jose Mourinho provided a provocative touchline presence and was goaded throughout on his return to Old Trafford as Chelsea coach, but his team rarely threatened ahead of Friday's UEFA Super Cup against Bayern Munich.
The point was enough to send Chelsea top of the early-season standings, but they have played a game more than the rest and United can draw level with them if they win at Liverpool on Sunday.
Rooney's inclusion in United's starting XI, for the first time since April, caused the evening's first ripple of excitement, but Mourinho's team selection was every bit as eye-catching.
The Portuguese named a team without a recognised striker, deploying Andre Schuerrle up front ahead of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Kevin De Bruyne, and leaving Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku on the bench.
Moyes — in his first home game as United manager — acknowledged in his program notes that he must prove he is the right successor to Alex Ferguson, but the home fans showed their approval of his appointment with a banner reading THE CHOSEN ONE that was displayed in the Stretford End.
Twice, Oscar shot straight at United goalkeeper David de Gea while, in United's best chance of the first half, Robin van Persie deceived half the stadium into thinking a goal had been scored with a snapshot that ruffled the side-netting.
Rooney, for his part, looked determined to influence the game, despite Chelsea's fans mischievously taking up their United counterparts' chants of "Rooney!" and pledging: "We'll see you next week!".
Playing in support of Van Persie, he constantly dropped deep to demand the ball, but when he managed to find space on the edge of the box with a smart turn, his shot lacked the power to trouble Cech.
Rooney raised the biggest cheer of the night with a full-bodied sliding tackle to dispossess Ramires, before giving Cech his last and most searching examination of the night with a powerful drive from 30 metres.