Saints earn a point against United

By SFC Media time Sat 01 Dec Saints v Man Utd
Photo by Chris Moorhouse | Stuart Armstrong
Sat 01 Dec 5.30PM
Premier League
Manchester United
Armstrong [13'] Soares [20']
Lukaku [33'] Herrera [39']
Højbjerg (35') Lemina (54') Vestergaard (59') Armstrong (90+5')
yellow card
Rashford (18') Fellaini (35') Pogba (53') Young (90+3')
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 30,187

A fixture that has produced its share of classics over the years yielded yet another memorable one, as Southampton and Manchester United played out a thrilling 2-2 draw under the lights at St Mary’s.

As the final whistle blew, though, Saints were left to reflect on what might have been, having produced a blistering start to the game that earned them a two-goal lead – thanks to a pair of brilliant strikes from Stuart Armstrong and Cédric.

However, that was wiped out by half-time, through strikes from Romelu Lukaku and Ander Herrera, as Mark Hughes’s side were left to settle for a point.

It was the least they deserved for their efforts, though, with their performance providing a source of genuine encouragement moving forward, even if it wasn’t enough to move them out of the Premier League’s bottom three.

Hughes made just two changes from the side that played in the Carabao Cup at Leicester on Tuesday, as Alex McCarthy replaced Angus Gunn in goal, while Cédric was restored in favour of Matt Targett, who was restricted from playing due to the head injury he suffered at King Power Stadium.

That meant a first Premier League start for 18-year-old striker Michael Obafemi and also a top-flight debut for Yan Valery, 19, who started at right-back, with Cédric covering on the other side, due to Ryan Bertrand also missing out through injury.

It was a frantic start, and nearly a disastrous one for Saints, who almost gifted United a lead just two minutes into the game.

McCarthy went to clear a ball from inside his own six-yard box, but somehow completely missed it, allowing Marcus Rashford to back-heel it from the byline into the danger zone.

Maya Yoshida’s clearance slammed against Herrera, with the ball looping to Lukaku in a huge amount of space, but McCarthy got out well to save with his feet and redeem himself.

Straight up the other end, Nathan Redmond found room for a shot 25 yards out, skidding a right-footed effort wide of the post, as Saints signalled a sign of the threat to come.

Redmond was involved again in the seventh minute, as Saints pushed forward once more, feeding the ball to Obafemi on the edge of the area, with the youngster cutting onto his left foot, only for Phil Jones to make an excellent block.

20181201 Southampton v Manchester United
Stuart Armstrong celebrates Saints' opener against United

The early, self-inflicted scare aside, it was a fine start from Saints, and they got the reward their effort deserved in the 13th minute with the opening goal of the night.

It was that man Redmond again who started it, showing tremendous feet to slalom his way past three United players on the edge of the area, before playing an intricate low pass into Obafemi. He showed great vision to move back into space and then slip a perfectly-weighted ball to Armstrong in space on the right-side of the area, and the in-form midfielder made no mistake, slamming a low, right-footed shot across goal, past David De Gea and inside the far post, as St Mary’s erupted.

Saints, who hadn’t pressed home their advantage when they took the lead last week at Fulham, eventually losing 3-2, did not make the same mistake again this time, as they doubled the lead in spectacular fashion in the 20th minute.

Mario Lemina’s left-footed shot from distance hit ex-Saint Luke Shaw and rebounded into his path, with the midfielder being tripped 25 yards out by Rashford as they both challenged for the ball.

There might have been a few eyebrows raised when Cédric lined up the resulting free-kick, but the defender produced a strike of incredible quality, bending it up and over the wall and past a full-stretch De Gea, into the top corner, for the first Premier League goal of his career and his second in any competition in a Saints shirt.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01: Cedric(L) celebrates with team mate Nathan Redmond(R) after scoring of Southampton during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on December 1, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Cédric and Nathan Redmond celebrate the full-back's sensational free-kick

Saints were bossing the game, but then, out of nowhere, United cut their lead in half.

Rashford was picked out through the centre, controlling the ball and fending off Yoshida, before sliding a pass in for the run of Lukaku through the middle, and the United striker this time made no mistake against McCarthy, slamming a high, left-footed shot past him.

Referee Kevin Friend, who had earlier shown yellow to Rashford for the foul that led to Saints’ second goal, dished out another two cards, with Marouane Fellanini first being cautioned for a hefty challenge on Lemina, before Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, again wearing the Saints armband, was cautioned for a foul on Paul Pogba.

Saints were given another good sight of goal in the 38th minute, as Højbjerg was pulled back by Herrera just outside the box – this time down the other channel to the one Cédric scored from – with the Saints skipper taking the free-kick, but firing it a few yards over.

Less than 60 seconds later, United were level.

Rashford drove brilliantly to the byline on the right side and cut back to Herrera in space six yards out, with the midfielder, whose run wasn’t tracked, producing an audacious back-heeled flick to beat McCarthy at the near post, with the goal sending the sides in level at half-time.

Six minutes after the restart United almost completed the turnaround, as Ashley Young whipped in a free-kick from the right and Fellaini met it with a thumping header that whistled just wide of the top corner.

Pogba and Lemina then traded yellow cards for fouls on each other within the space of a minute or so, as both sides battled for control in midfield.

20181201 Southampton v Manchester United
Michael Obafemi on his way to another encouraging performance

Saints’ free-kick rotation continued in the 58th minute, as Obafemi was fouled by Pogba down the inside-right channel, and Redmond sent in a 25-yard strike that was well-hit, but straight at De Gea.

Jannik Vestergaard was the next man into Friend’s book, tripping Scott McTominay on the hour mark, moments before Shaw flashed a right-footed volley from the edge of the area wide against his former club.

The game was entering a critical period, and Saints had a shout for a spot kick on 63 minutes, as Obafemi claimed he was dragged down by McTominay as he looked to get on the end of Armstrong’s centre, but Friend dismissed the calls.

It was Obafemi’s last action of another encouraging, high-energy display, with the youngster, who pulled up on a run moments before, withdrawn in favour of Manolo Gabbiadini.

He was straight into the thick of the action, testing De Gea with a strike from just inside the corner of the area, after Armstrong had found him with a neat pass.

At the other end, McCarthy had to be alert to Pogba’s overhead kick midway through the half, with each team looking capable of grabbing the fifth goal of the game.

United’s first change arrived on 72 minutes, as Shaw departed his old ground to applause, picking up an injury that meant José Mourinho had to send Diogo Dalot on. Anthony Martial followed soon after, replacing Rashford.

Redmond, a real livewire all night, nearly broke the deadlock 11 minutes from time with a fierce, long-range drive that De Gea acrobatically tipped over, as Saints pushed for a priceless goal.

They came close moments later, with Redmond again involved – his driven corner being met at the near post by the head of Højbjerg, only for the ball to fly just wide.

Four minutes of added time were signalled at the end of the game, with Steven Davis replacing Lemina as they began, but there was no time left for either side to find the decisive goal.

For Saints, attention turns to Wednesday night's trip to Tottenham, before a big clash away to Cardiff next weekend. After this, they can take plenty of positives forward into their latest road trip.

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Head to Head Stats

Manchester United
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Alex McCarthy (GK)
Jack Stephens
Maya Yoshida
Jannik Vestergaard yellow card
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C) yellow card
Cédric Soares goal
Yan Valery
Mario Lemina yellow card
replace Steven Davis (92′)
Stuart Armstrong yellow card goal
Michael Obafemi
replace Manolo Gabbiadini (64′)
Nathan Redmond
Oriol Romeu
Steven Davis
James Ward-Prowse
Angus Gunn
Manolo Gabbiadini
Charlie Austin
Wesley Hoedt

Manchester United

David de Gea (GK)
Ashley Young (C) yellow card
Nemanja Matic
Luke Shaw
replace Diogo Dalot (72′)
Phil Jones
Scott McTominay
Paul Pogba yellow card
Ander Herrera goal
Marouane Fellaini yellow card
Romelu Lukaku goal
replace Jesse Lingard (86′)
Marcus Rashford yellow card
replace Anthony Martial (77′)
Sergio Romero
Anthony Martial
Juan Mata
Marcos Rojo
Jesse Lingard
Diogo Dalot
Match Pack: Manchester United vs Saints
Saints v Man Utd

Match Pack: Manchester United vs Saints

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