Saints' unbeaten run comes to cruel end

By SFC Media time Sun 29 Nov Saints v Manchester United
Photo by Matt Watson | Jan Bednarek
Sun 29 Nov 2PM
Premier League
Southampton
2
Manchester United
3
Bednarek [23'] Ward-Prowse [33']
goal
Fernandes [60'] Cavani [74' 90+2']
Ward-Prowse (16')
yellow card
Referee: Jonathan Moss | Venue: St Mary's Stadium | Attendance: 0

Southampton’s unbeaten run came to a cruel end at St Mary’s, where Edinson Cavani headed a stoppage-time winner to complete a dramatic Manchester United comeback.

James Ward-Prowse’s set-piece prowess came to the fore in the first period; his devilish corner touched in by Jan Bednarek, before a trademark free-kick beat David De Gea, who was forced off at the interval with Saints leading 2-0.

But United responded after the break, as substitute Cavani set up Bruno Fernandes, before the latter’s deflected shot was headed in by the former with 16 minutes left.

Both teams pushed for a winner, but the visitors carried the greater threat and were rewarded two minutes into added time when Cavani darted to the near post to nod home Marcus Rashford’s driven cross.

20201129 Southampton v Manchester United
Manchester United celebrate their late winner.

Ralph Hasenhüttl named an unchanged team from his side that drew 1-1 at Wolves, as Saints extended their unbeaten Premier League run to seven matches. 

United may have had an indifferent start to the new season but their away form has been flawless, with the Red Devils chasing an eighth successive league victory on the road.

It was the visitors who made the brighter start, having switched to 4-4-2 – surely a compliment to Hasenhüttl’s success in overrunning teams in midfield. 

Mason Greenwood raced on to an early ball in behind the Saints defence that lured Alex McCarthy from his goal line, allowing the youngster to round the keeper, but he was defeated by the tight angle and could only shoot into the side-netting.

Then Fernandes let fly from trademark long range, sending a powerful effort veering narrowly wide of McCarthy’s right-hand post via a slight deflection.

Slowly but surely, Saints grew to their task, taking the lead from their first sight of goal midway through the half. 

From a corner on the left, Ward-Prowse swung the ball in right underneath De Gea’s crossbar, and Bednarek peeled away from the goal-line to nod the ball into the net from no more than a couple of yards.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Jan Bednarek celebrates putting Southampton ahead.

It was the Polish defender’s first goal since January and gave his team a huge lift. 

Saints flooded forward, led by rampaging right-back Kyle Walker-Peters, who drilled a low shot that clipped the heel of Alex Telles and clunked against the foot of De Gea’s right-hand post.

Back came United, helped by some generous distribution from McCarthy, who inadvertently passed the ball straight to Greenwood.

Ignoring Fernandes and Rashford to his left, Greenwood went for goal with a shot McCarthy could only parry to Fernandes, before instantly flinging himself to his right to block the follow-up, which was destined to level the scores.

This was an entertaining spectacle between two teams attacking with energy and purpose.

After Moussa Djenepo danced his way to the byline to win a corner, the winger set off on another dribble that this time earned a free-kick just outside the penalty area, left of centre.

The stage was set for Ward-Prowse, who revels in such situations. Eyeing up his target, the skipper delivered another set-piece spectacular, beating the wall and curling the ball away from De Gea to squeeze an inch-perfect strike just inside the near post.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 29: during the Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Southampton, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse celebrates another spectacular free-kick.

The United keeper actually clattered into his upright in attempting to prevent the seemingly inevitable outcome, and perhaps that was what forced him off at half-time, replaced by Dean Henderson.

Greenwood was also sacrificed at the interval by an evidently unimpressed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who threw Cavani into his star-studded attack.

Just as in the first half, it did not take long for United to find a way in behind the Saints backline – this time Rashford going eye to eye with McCarthy, who stood tall and threw out a left hand to repel his shot.

Cavani was next to threaten, instinctively firing goalwards inside a crowded penalty area but over the crossbar after the hosts had struggled to clear Fernandes’s original cross.

There was more zest about United now, and Solskjaer’s men were back in the game just shy of the hour mark, when Cavani’s low ball from the right was neatly collected by Fernandes, who swivelled to steer the ball past McCarthy from 10 yards.

20201129 Southampton v Manchester United
Bruno Fernandes collects the ball after starting United's comeback.

This had the makings of a long half an hour for Saints, who were coming under increasing pressure as United smelled blood.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross was headed only fractionally wide by Cavani, who was inches away from connecting with a Fernandes corner at the near post.

Hasenhüttl’s first move in a bid to stem the tide was to introduce Shane Long for Djenepo, as Walcott moved out to the wing.

But within three minutes United had the equaliser their second-half improvement had threatened, when Fernandes fired a low shot through a crowded penalty area that took a deflection and sat up perfectly for Cavani to head home from six yards.

Rather than allow despondency to kick in, Saints retaliated through a sharp shot on the turn from Adams, which just skidded wide as the hosts threatened to retake the lead immediately.

But United were still pushing, as Rashford’s final ball to Fred was found wanting, before the England man got it right to pick out Cavani, whose arrival from the bench had transformed Solskjaer’s team.

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Southampton

Head to Head Stats

Manchester United
  • Possession (%)
    50
    comparison angle
    50
  • Shots
    10
    comparison angle
    15
  • Shots on target
    5
    comparison angle
    6
  • Corners
    5
    comparison angle
    9
  • Passes Complete
    418
    comparison angle
    417

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
3
Ryan Bertrand
2
Kyle Walker-Peters
replace Daniel N'Lundulu (94′)
4
Jannik Vestergaard
35
Jan Bednarek goal
6
Oriol Romeu
8
James Ward-Prowse (C) yellow card goal
17
Stuart Armstrong
replace Ibrahima Diallo (90′)
12
Moussa Djenepo
replace Shane Long (72′)
10
Che Adams
32
Theo Walcott
27
Ibrahima Diallo
23
Nathan Tella
40
Daniel N'Lundulu
5
Jack Stephens
14
Michael Obafemi
7
Shane Long
44
Fraser Forster

Manchester United

1
David de Gea (GK)
replace Dean Henderson (45′)
29
Aaron Wan-Bissaka
5
Harry Maguire (C)
2
Victor Lindelöf
27
Alex Telles
replace Brandon Williams (84′)
17
Fred
31
Nemanja Matic
18
Bruno Fernandes goal
34
Donny van de Beek
11
Mason Greenwood
replace Edinson Cavani (45′) goal goal
10
Marcus Rashford
26
Dean Henderson
24
Timothy Fosu-Mensah
38
Axel Tuanzebe
8
Juan Mata
7
Edinson Cavani
33
Brandon Williams
21
Daniel James
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