Southampton vs Manchester United: Jose Mourinho’s side come from two goals down to draw with brave Saints
Another matchday, another Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from Manchester United. Stuart Armstrong and Cedric Soares put Southampton 2-0 up after only 19 minutes, but Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera levelled before half time, both goals created by Marcus Rashford. Saints had not won in nine league games and not at all at home this season, so United would…
Stuart Armstrong and Cedric Soares put Southampton 2-0 up after only 19 minutes, but Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera levelled before half time, both goals created by Marcus Rashford.
Saints had not won in nine league games and not at all at home this season, so United would have expected to step up the pace in the second half and win here as usual. But instead it was the home side who looked likelier winners and David De Gea made the best save of the game to deny a long-range shot from Nathan Redmond. And the water bottles at the side of the pitch at St Mary’s went untouched as the game petered out.
Without that last-gasp winner against Young Boys in midweek from Marouane Fellaini, this would have been four games without victory. As it is, Jose Mourinho’s men lost further ground on Manchester City, the leaders.
United lacked any urgency or intensity in the first half hour. Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba, second-half substitutes against Young Boys, started, but Juan Mata, another player introduced at Old Trafford as United chased the game, began on the bench again. With Chris Smalling nursing a groin injury, Scott McTominay lined up alongside Phil Jones in the centre of defence.
Saints gave 19-year-old Frenchman Yan Valery his Premier League debut at right wing back, Cedric continuing on the left in place of the injured Ryan Bertrand, and the formation worked well after an early hiccup.
Southampton’s home form meant that they were entitled to be tentative and nerves were evident after only three minutes when England goalkeeper Alex McCarthy kicked empty air instead of the ball as he attempted to clear a backpass. Marcus Rashford kept the rolling ball in play and after one shot was charged down, it eventually reached Lukaku 15 yards out. But by then McCarthy had recovered, rushing out to block the striker’s shot.
But they were settled after 12 minutes as Saints took the lead. Nathan Redmond dribbled infield from the right, resisting several attempts to dispossess him. He slipped the ball to Michael Obafemi, who seemed to have almost no space in which to operate. But the Dublin-born striker spun and passed out to Armstrong on the right and the Scotland midfield player hit the ball past David De Gea’s right hand for his third goal in two league games.
Seven minutes later it was 2-0. Marcus Rashford was ruled to have fouled Mario Lemina two yards outside the penalty area, and was shown a yellow card. But greater punishment followed as Portugal defender Cedric curled the ball over the wall and into the net between De Gea and his near post.
But Rashford soon atoned, turning past Maya Yoshida and slipping a pass to Lukaku just before Jack Stephens could challenge. The ball was perfect for the Belgium striker, who lifted his first goal in seven games over McCarthy and high into the net.
And on 39 minutes the scored were level. Rashford was the again, charging 30 yards down the right. The England forward seemed to be abnout to run the ball over the byline, but found just enough space to cut the ball back into the six-yard box. Herrera had spotted the opportunity and no Saints defender had scented the danger and a clever backheel sent the ball in off McCarthy.
Saints were convinced that they should have had a chance to restore their lead when Scott McTominay got a foot to a low cross from the right but seemed to wrestle Obafemi to the ground at the same time. Kevin Friend, the referee, declined to award a penalty.
Obafemi shot high and Hojbjerg sent De Gea full-length before Hojbjerg’s drive from distance, but the reaction of the Saints crowd at the whistle suggested that they were happy at an unexpected point rather than sorry to miss out on three.