Saints earn a point against United


Southampton bounced back from their opening-day defeat at Everton to pick up a well-deserved point against Manchester United in their first home match of the Premier League season.

A Ché Adams effort that was deflected in by Fred gave Saints a lead going into half-time and, although Mason Greenwood levelled for the visitors shortly after the break, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side remained good value for the draw and could well have even won the match late on.

Hasenhüttl kept faith with the same team that he had selected on the opening day of the season, at Everton, although there was no place among the subs for Stuart Armstrong, who missed out with a minor calf problem.

Saints started the game well, James Ward-Prowse testing David de Gea within a minute, trying to catch the United keeper out at his near post with a low free-kick from distance, but he was able to scramble across and punch the bouncing ball behind.

The hosts survived a major scare on seven minutes, though, going perilously close to conceding.

Bruno Fernandes whipped in a free-kick from the right, which only just eluded the head of a diving Victor Lindelöf before being looped onto the bar by Harry Maguire’s outstretched boot at close range. The rebound fell kindly to Anthony Martial six yards out, but Mohammed Salisu was well positioned to clear his header off the line.

It was a moment that kick-started something of a nervy spell for Saints, as United pressed, but they were able to ride it out without suffering damage.

Hasenhüttl’s men then began to grow back into the game, and they worked a decent opening shortly before the half-hour mark, as Moussa Djenepo tricked his way into the left side of the area and laid the ball back to Adam Armstrong, who sent a curling effort over from 20 yards.

Two minutes later, the breakthrough arrived.

It started with Jack Stephens dispossessing Fernandes on the United left, before playing a low pass into Djenepo about 25 yards out. Quick as a flash, he moved it to Armstrong, who flicked it to Adams, and he in turn worked space on his left foot just outside the box and sent a low strike, which, with the aid of a deflection, nestled in the bottom corner, as St Mary’s erupted.

The effort was later ruled by the Premier League’s Goal Accreditation Panel to be an own goal from Fred, but it mattered little.

Fans were again on their feet in the 40th minute, when teenager Tino Livramento went on a bursting run from the edge of his own area, blowing past Fred and ending up in the final third, but his low delivery across the face of goal was just out of the reach of a sliding Armstrong.

Saints were well on course to take a lead into half-time, although Alex McCarthy had to be called upon to keep the advantage intact, making an excellent save from a Nemanja Matic header, after he had met Luke Shaw’s corner shortly before the break.

Despite being in front, Hasenhüttl opted to make a change at the interval, withdrawing Theo Walcott and sending on Jan Bednarek, as he switched to a back five for the second half.

Saints’ lead would only last ten minutes after the restart, though.

Paul Pogba played a pass into the area, which found Fernandes, who spun and attempted to lay the ball back into the path of Pogba’s run. The delivery was a little off, but it nonetheless ended up falling into the path of Greenwood, who struck a low, left-footed shot from about 12 yards that went through the legs of McCarthy and into the back of the net.

Pogba then almost fired United into the lead in the 59th minute, brilliantly working room on his left foot in the area, but dragging his subsequent shot just wide of the far post.

Greenwood also missed a fine opportunity soon after, heading over from a good position after Fred’s clipped cross from 25 yards on the inside-right had picked him out.

Moments later and Fernandes was on target with a header from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s delivery, but McCarthy was able to divert this one around the post.

Perhaps prompted by the spell of pressure, Hasenhüttl then made his second change, as Ibrahima Diallo was introduced for Djenepo in the 70th minute.

Four minutes later, Saints should have regained the lead.

Ward-Prowse pressed and stole the ball off Maguire high up the pitch on the right, poking it to Adams in the process, and he quickly slid a pass in for Armstrong, who burst through the middle with only De Gea to beat, but his left-footed strike was too close to the United keeper, who was able to push it away.

Saints skipper Ward-Prowse then tested De Gea himself, with a well-struck free-kick from close to 30 yards out, but the visiting stopper punched it clear.

A final change of the afternoon for the hosts followed, as Kyle Walker-Peters was sent on for Romain Perraud.

Five minutes of added time were signalled at the end of the game, but Saints continued to prove comfortable at this point in keeping their opponents at bay, and they saw it out to get their season up and running, with cries of "Oh when the Saints go marching in" once again ringing around the ground at full-time.